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MD1 Preview - Group A: Home teams seek winning starts

Kuala Lumpur: Guam and the Philippines will be aiming for winning starts when they begin their respective FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers' campaigns on Thursday.

Guam face Maldives in the opening match of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers while Philippines will face Syria later in the day.

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Guam may be the lowest ranked team in the group but that is a mere statistic for head coach Karl Dodd and his players as they target a successful tournament after advancing past the first round of the Asian Qualifiers.

The Matao showed their strength at home when they overcame a 1-0 first leg deficit to beat Bhutan 5-0 in the return leg, with Jason Cunliffe scoring a hat-trick.

Matchday One - Group A

Australia Dodd has made no secret of the fact that he is counting on Guam maximising their home ground advantage in what promises to be a challenging yet thrilling competition for the East Asians.

With China PR, Syria and Philippines also in their group, Dodd wants his players to aim high and opening with three points will be the perfect boost.

Maldives will be aiming high too and head coach Petar Segrt's preparations included a training camp in Sri Lanka and arriving early in Guam, with the South Asians touching down on Monday.

Dubbed the 'Battle of the Islands', Croatian Segrt will be targetting three points ahead of what are, on paper at least, tougher matches coming up for Maldives.

Venue: Guam FA Field, Guam
Kick-off: 1530 hours (UTC +10)


The Philippines will fancy their chances of picking up the three points despite being ranked 39 spots behind Syria.

The West Asians have been a pale shadow of the side who pushed Australia all the way in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Confederation play-off with their AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 campaign ending in the group stage.

They also failed to advance past the group stage at the recent WAFF Championship and this will give Philippines belief that the three points are for the taking.

The Philippines will play their home matches at the Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, a venue which assistant coach Scott Cooper said was selected due to how difficult it is to get there.

The Philippines debut appearance in the AFC Asian Cup Finals was relatively successful and the Southeast Asians believe they have the quality to make it to China 2023.

Syria, however, cannot be discounted and head coach Fajr Ibrahim has the experience and guile to get his team up to speed.

He also has quality players at his disposal and this sets the stage for a thriller.

Venue: Pana-ad Park and Football Stadium, Bacolod City
Kick-off: 2000 hours (UTC +8)

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