Masakåda roster finalized, team ready to compete at WAFF tourney

Masakåda roster finalized, team ready to compete at WAFF tourney

[February 13, 2024 – Harmon, Guam] Guam Women’s National Team Head Coach Kristin Thompson officially released her roster of 23 players called up to the Masakåda for this month’s West Asian Football Federation Women’s Championship Saudi 2024 tournament, set to kick off Feb. 19 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“The players who made the final selection are eager and ready to prove themselves and to play hard for their island,” Thompson said. “The majority of the roster are returning from the EAFF E-1 Football Championship Women’s Competition squad (from November 2023) but we have also added some new talent to the team. It will be a fight to see who is in that starting 11 and who comes off the bench in key moments in the game. The high level of players on this roster is very exciting for not only this tournament but the future of the Masakåda program as a whole.”

Among players called up are goalkeepers Isabella Hara, Gabrielle Moser, and Sierra Ruehl. Field players are Mariah Anaya, Rebecca Bartosh, Maile Chargualaf, Camryn Cruz, Kalle Damian, True Dydasco, Samantha Kenney, Yasmeen Lopez, Kaia Malakooti, Analea Meno, Jenna Merrill, Aida Pedemonte, Inyssa Perez, Jenae Perez, Mihaela Perez, Sophia San Agustin, Aryanna Sanchez, Lexi Taitague, Kaia Villanueva, and Emily Walton.

The team learned of its opponents in the tournament’s official draw ceremony held Feb. 5. Guam was drawn into Group A with tournament host Saudi Arabia, five-time champion Jordan, and Lebanon. Group B will feature Nepal, Palestine, Syria, and Iraq.

“There was a lot of anticipation leading to the draw; we have not played most of the teams so we were excited for whichever team we were going to draw,” Thompson said. “During the draw it was a little surreal to see one heavy-hitting team after another being drawn into our pool. In the end, we did draw, who I believe, are arguably the best teams in the West Asian region and this tournament. To be quite honest, I was a little disappointed at first knowing it was going to be a tough road, but then the more I thought about it, the more excited I started to get about facing these great teams. If we want to be the best and compete at this level we should want to play the best teams we can.

“We have really dug in and started to analyze our opponents and how they play, but more importantly how are we going to play to beat them and succeed! I can honestly say I am confident in the amazing players on the list who have been selected. I am so excited to be a part of helping them achieve their goals as individuals and our goals as a team in bringing home wins. I know we can do it and we are capable of winning. I have very high expectations for them as players, and as a team, and I know they will rise to the challenge. All I can say is bring it on, we are ready,” Thompson added.

Guam will open its bid against Lebanon in the tournament’s opening match at 5 p.m. local time on Feb. 19 (12 midnight, Feb. 20 Guam time) at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah. Guam will next play against Jordan on Feb. 21, also with a 5 p.m. local time kick off. Guam’s final group-stage match will be against Saudi Arabia at 8 p.m. local time on Feb. 23 (3 a.m., Feb. 24 Guam time).

The top two teams from each group move on to the semifinal round. The winners from the semifinal round move on to the tournament’s championship match on Feb. 29.

More information about how to watch the matches will be announced once official information is received from WAFF.

The Guam-based players and staff will depart early morning of Feb. 15 in a 30-hour journey to Jeddah. Traveling staff are Head Coach Kristin Thompson, Assistant Coach Michael Milner, Goalkeeper Coach Chima Mbakwem, Team Manager Sheena Newell, Assistant Team Manager Ghada Al Jurdi, Media Officer Jill Espiritu, and Team Physiotherapist Dr. Kelsey Kuehn.