AFC Soccer in Beijing: Guam Over Saipan 2-0; But Falls to Hong Kong and Mongolia

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Guam – Guam’s U14 Boys national soccer team encountered a rocky start to the 2012 AFC Festival of Football in Beijing, China but ended day one of competition on a positive note with a 2-0 win over the Northern Mariana Islands.

Earlier in the day, Guam lost to Hong Kong 2-0 and then swallowed a tough 1-0 loss to Mongolia.

“It was hard to move around and make good passes,” said Guam’s Napu Topasna about the Hong Kong team. “Their defense was good – they were always on us, making it hard to turn. Based on how we did during that game, we knew we had to work on team movement.

“Our passing game was better in the later match against NMI. We won, but we still could have finished more goals,” added Topasna, who played for the Southern Cobras during the Cars Plus Robbie Webber Youth Soccer League.

Topasna scored Guam’s first goal in this year’s festival after accurately lobbing the ball over NMI’s goalkeeper and into the goal. Moments later, Leon Bamba added an insurance goal for Guam to secure the win against NMI.

[Guam’s Napu Topasna takes control of the ball past a Hong Kong defender during an AFC Boys U14 Festival of Football match Wednesday at the National Football Training Center in Beijing, China.]

Earlier in the day, Guam played an aggressive game against Mongolia that saw both teams take a penalty kick each on different infractions. Guam earned the first one-on-one after a Mongolian defender was issued a yellow card for intentionally holding Guam’s Jake Benito to prevent him from shooting the ball near the goal. Joshua Lujan took the penalty kick, but his shot unluckily sailed over the crossbar to keep the game scoreless. Minutes later, Mongolia was awarded a penalty kick after an infraction was called on Guam. Mongolia’s kicker sent the ball just out of Guam goalkeeper Jerome Artero’s reach and into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.

Guam had more shot opportunities in the final minutes of the game, but could not find the back of the net before time expired.

Guam continues play at 10:30 a.m. Beijing time (12:30 p.m. Guam time) Thursday against Hong Kong a second time. Guam also plays NMI again on Thursday at 3 p.m. Beijing time (5 p.m. Guam time) and later faces DPR Korea at 5:15 p.m. Beijing time (7:15 p.m. Guam time) the same day.

Like Guam, NMI finished day one of competition winning one game and dropping two, including the game against Guam. NMI’s other loss was against DPR Korea, 2-0. Before facing Guam in the late afternoon game, NMI earned a 2-0 win over Chinese Taipei.