The CNMI can draw inspiration from Guam’s wins in the World Cup qualifying as the Commonwealth prepares for three Asian Football Confederation events in September this year.
Guam posted a pair of victories in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification (Asia), beating Turkmenistan last week, 1-0 (own goal), and India, 2-1, last Tuesday at the GFA National Training Center in Harmon.
“Congratulations to Guam Football Association and its president Richard Lai,” said Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan, who was in Guam to watch the host stun India behind the goals from midfielder Brandon McDonald and defender Travis Nicklaw.
The twin wins got the attention of the world as CNN featured a story about Guam’s recent success, highlighting how a small island in the Pacific beat India and Turkmenistan to become the unlikely leader in Group D. Guam, which suffered lopsided losses to Iran, 0-19 and Tajikistan, 0-16, in 2000 during its first World Cup qualifying stint, earned 6 points from the first two games in this year’s qualifier to lead Oman (3), Iran (1), Turkmenistan (1), and India (0). Guam is the lowest-ranked (FIFA rankings) team in Group D at No. 174, while Iran tops the field at No. 41, and Oman, India, and Turkmenistan are ranked No. 101, 132, and 173, respectively.
“NMIFA and the CNMI teams can draw a lot of inspiration from Guam and its recent success in the ongoing World Cup qualifier. Guam clearly shows that despite being a small island, it can still be competitive if it puts in a lot of hard work consistently,” Tan said.
Tan and NMIFA are sending teams to the AFC U14 Regional Festival of Football 2015 (East Region), AFC U-19 Championship Bahrain 2016, and AFC U14 Regional Festival of Football 2015 (East Region) in September with the Commonwealth bets out to battle powerhouse squads in the region. Tan is hoping Guam’s triumphs will inspire and boost the confidence of the CNMI teams, as they go all out to produce the best possible results for the Commonwealth.
“Guam Football Association is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, while NMIFA is at its 10th anniversary. Despite being 30 years behind, we continue to make progress with our youth development program and I want to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to GFA for their continuing support to NMIFA,” Tan said.
Meanwhile, Guam will resume its 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification bid on Sept. 8 when it takes on Oman and will close out against Iran on Nov. 17. The group winners and best four runners-up (all groups combined) will advance to the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualification and qualify for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals. In the third round, the Top 2 teams (two groups) will earn slots to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which Russia will host. The two third placers in the third round will go to the fourth round and the winner of the two games will make it to the inter-confederation playoffs to fight for the remaining FIFA World Cup berths.