Sports

Maldives take early lead in FIFA Prequalifier

Maldives faced off against Guam’s Matao team in a FIFA World Cup qualifier match Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019. (Photo: Rick Cruz/PDN)

Ibrahim Mahudhee scored the only goal of the game and the Maldives defeated Guam 1-0 at the Guam Football Association’s National Training Center in Dededo.

It was Guam’s Round 2 opener of the FIFA World Cup Prequalifier against the Maldives, ranked 152 in the FIFA World Rankings. Guam stands at No. 190 in the global list of more than 200 countries recognized by FIFA.

Although the Maldives held the lead, they were far from dominant in the first half. The Matao had five shots on goal in the first 40 minutes of play.

It took some time for Guam’s offence to get going, however, and it wasn’t until about 15 minutes into the game that Guam’s Marcus Lopez had a good look at a shot. He took advantage of a sloppy clear by the Maldives’ defence, but his shot was deflected.

Minutes later, he had a second attempt from the corner but was also cut off. In quick succession, Matao captain Jason Cunliffe’s header was also blocked.

The player from Maldives scores

In the 27th minute, Maldives forward Ibrahim Mahudhee scored. He dribbled past two Guam defenders, found an opening and delivered a shot from right outside the goal box, bending the ball to the left of the goal, just out of Guam keeper Dallas Jaye’s reach.

Guam had two more shots before halftime. Cunliffe crossed to teammate Shane Malcolm, who’s long header was off target. Another attempt by Dylan Naputi off a long pass from Cunliffe was also off.

The Maldives were playing without two of their best players due to family and visa issues.

The teams played balanced in the second half, although several Maldives players complained of cramps. Guam played a man short for the last part of the game when Shawn Nicklaw was ejected after protesting a yellow card – one of at least four charged to Guam in the match.

Guam’s next match is against the Philippines, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the GFA.

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