Guam trio invited to professional team tryouts

Guam trio invited to professional team tryouts

Receiving an invitation to play soccer professionally in Cambodia is another reason for a handful of players on the Matao to be thankful during this holiday season.

Following the team’s recent success in the Southeast Asian country, three members of the Matao – Scott Leon Guerrero, Marcus Lopez, and Ian Mariano – each received an invitation to try out for the Phnom Penh Crown FC, Cambodia’s most decorated professional club team.

“My goal is go out with my best effort – be confident in my abilities,” said Leon Guerrero in Cambodia before heading to the club team trials. “I’ve been training for a while to go out there and prove that I can do it.

“At this point in Guam’s national program, you got to be playing somewhere else to stay on the team. For me, this opportunity is a steppingstone to higher and better things in terms of professional soccer,” added the 23-year-old, who has earned the same amount of international caps for Guam.

The tryout began over the weekend and continues through to this weekend. The Matao team members joined the rest of the professional squad after its three-game friendly match tour in China.

“With the success of the Matao in recent international fixtures, club teams in the region are taking notice of individual players to play professionally in their respective leagues,” said Gary White, head coach of the Matao. “As the selection pool for the Matao has become increasingly competitive, players aren’t able to rest on their laurels to make the squad. Playing in professional leagues will help the players continue to develop their skills at a high level. They’ll bring the experience back to the Matao, which will further strengthen the team in international matches.

“Seizing these opportunities now will help to continue opening doors for our elite youth athletes in the Guam Football Association National Academy, the future of Guam’s national teams,” White added.

Guam recently played against Cambodia at the Olympic Stadium and outplayed the host country in a 2-0 outing.

Prior to the Matao’s tour, White met Phnom Penh Crown FC’s Swiss head coach Sam Schweingruber at a FIFA course in Singapore and the conversation about inviting some members of the Matao to try out for the Cambodian professional team ensued, according to Phnom Penh Crown FC media officer Andy Brouwer.

“[W]e are the club with the most championship titles (four in total), so we need our new players to fit in quickly alongside our established team members to get the season off to a flying start,” Brouwer said. “There are ten teams in the league, so we play 18 games in total, hence the need to hit the ground running. We have already played a dozen friendly matches as part of our build-up, including a three-game tour in China, so any new players will need to acclimatize quickly with the players who have been performing for the past two months.

“One area of the pitch where we need to do better is scoring goals – we relied too heavily on two players last season. The Cambodian audience was impressed with the Guam team in the recent friendly, so having three of the Guam squad staying behind and trying out is bound to spark a lot of interest,” Brouwer added.

The Cambodian League begins the second week of January. Each club in the league is allowed five non-Cambodian players on its roster and only three of the five are able to play in any given match, Brouwer said. Leon Guerrero, Lopez, and Mariano are all competing for spots on the team with other foreign players from other countries, including Nigeria and Spain.

Three members of the Matao pose for a photo during a training session with Phnom Penh Crown FC in Cambodia. From left: Marcus Lopez, Scott Leon Guerrero and Ian Mariano. Photo courtesy of Andy Brouwer, media officer of Phnom Penh Crown FC.