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No rest for Guam, says skipper Cunliffe

Dededo: Hat-trick hero Jason Cunliffe says its back to the drawing board for Guam after they sealed their place in the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Joint Qualification in emphatic fashion on Tuesday.

Guam defeated Bhutan 5-0 to advance 5-1 on aggregate with skipper Cunliffe scoring in the 26th, 81st and added time. Guam's other scorers were Isiah Kazunori Kimura Lagutang (23rd) and Shane Malcolm (51st) as Guam comfortably overcame the one-goal deficit at the Guam FA Field.

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Cunliffe said Guam were determined to deliver in front of their fans after not having played to expectations in the first leg.

"Playing at home is something we always enjoy as the stadium is a fortress for us. We are very difficult to beat at home and we were determined to deliver what the fans wanted," said Cunliffe, 35.

"Bhutan did well in the first leg as they pressed us but we ran away a little bit from our principles but in the return leg, we played the way we were expected to."

"We knew that if we scored the first goal, we would go on to score more as the pressure would be on Bhutan. They are the higher ranked team and had less travel time compared to us.

"Once we scored the second goal, we were in control. I never expected to score a hat-trick but I am glad I did as it helped the team.

"This match is now over and we have to wait and see how the draw goes but it's back to the drawing board for us as we must prepare well," concluded Cunliffe.

The next stage of the Asian Qualifiers will see Asia's big guns entering the fray but Guam head coach Karl Dodd is confident his team will be able to hold their own based on Tuesday's performance.

Dodd had called on his team to show more determination after Guam lost the first leg and his players responded with a five-star performance.

"The difference between the first and second matches was that the team turned up for the second leg. They showed what we have worked on the last 14, 15 months," said Dodd.

Bhutan head coach Pema Dorji admitted his team couldn't cope with the heat.

"I always knew that being just 1-0 up from the first leg would be very difficult. My players tried but it was very hot. We are used to playing in cold weather but it was 39, 40 degrees and my players couldn't cope."

Dorji said he will now look to rebuild the squad and will be scouting for players in the Bhutan Super League.

Photos: Guam Football Association

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