Before and after COVID-19: Guam, damage limitations and building for the future

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The AFC (Asian Football Confederation) have announced the dates that they are hoping to re-start Asian World Cup qualifying on. Here we will have a rundown of all the teams from the EAFF (East Asian Football Confederation) and see how they have done so far before they resume their campaigns. Next up is Guam, who are in qualifying group A. 

Guam aim for damage limitations

Guam's World Cup qualifying campaign might have seemed like it has been a disaster so far, but after their pre-group stage qualifying match against Bhutan, where they lost 1-0, they could have easily been knocked out before this stage even began.

Getting to the group stage alone is a triumph for Guam, and the reason it is a success, is because it gives their players a chance of playing against some of the top players from the Asian region, and gives their players a chance to play in more competitive games.

With all that said, however, the level of opposition that they have to face in the group stage has seemingly looked to be a level too high for the tiny island nation. The first match of the group stage against the Maldives looked to be Guam's best chance of taking any points at all, and unfortunately for them the game ended in a 1-0 defeat, even after they battered the Maldives defence for most of the game.

After this, they have lost 4-1 at home to the Philippines, 7-0 away in China, 4-0 away to Syria (the match was played in Dubai), and 3-1 away in the Maldives. When football recommences for qualifying in October, Guam's first task will be to travel to the Philippines and then have a home game (which will take place in the neutral venue of Buriram, Thailand, due to the Coronavirus) which means it isn't really a home match.

Guam's last qualifying game is a home tie against Syria, therefore they still have to play the top three seeded sides in the group, which looks like they could finish the qualifying group with 0 points, which would seem like a disaster but a lot of young players have been given a chance to play during this cycle of qualifying, and the hope must be that they will do better next time around in four years.


Guam building for the future with youth

Guam have spent a lot of effort in making sure they are able to build for the future. Guam manager Karl Dodd has stated when he took over the job that there was a lack of youth players and youth football, and this is something he has been striving to change through the work he has been doing. Shown as he said the following:

Maybe, in the past, Guam was running a little too quick for what it could do at a sustainable pace, and that is something I came up with in our strategic plan: Let’s make this a sustainable program for all the age groups.

Therefore this means that the nation is really playing catch up with our nations because the youth system has been so dormant. There has obviously been an over-reliance on the senior team, and that has likely eaten up most of the countries resources for supporting the team.

But, as Dodd alludes to, these older aged players won't be around forever, and the 28's and over likely won't feature much again in four years time. This is why Dodd has been giving some of his better youngsters games and chances during this qualification cycle. It may not look good in the results but it gets players valuable experience which will help them in the next time around.

Guam is looking to the future, and focusing on youth levels is an excellent policy, just as other small nations have displayed in various small countries around the world. As they will be hoping to replicate that in any way they can when their youth levels begin to breakthrough after they've had greater emphasis put on them than ever before.

Guam's next games:

8th October - Philippines vs Guam
13th October - Guam vs China (match played in Buriram)

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