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Coaches emphasize importance of training matches

GUAM—NMI coach Angie Ito and Guam’s Sakiko Ogura are looking beyond the goals scored or missed in their first two friendly games here at the Guam Football Association National Training Center, as the two officials acknowledged the benefits of the training matches for both camps.

Ito coached the NMI Women’s National Team to a scoreless draw against Ogura’s Masakada last Sunday night and though neither squad made it to the board, their relentless efforts on the offensive and defensive ends kept the coaches and even the spectators at the GFA facility up on their feet.

“It was a very intense game and I am just so happy that our players were able to hold their own both on offense and defense. In the last 10 minutes, Guam came out very aggressive on offense, but our collective effort on defense stopped them,” said Ito, who had to endure several anxious moments in the closing stage of the game.

One of those incidents happened in the last few seconds of the match when a Guam player attacked and unloaded a cross, which the NMI’s Britanny Wally anticipated, as she extended her leg in an attempt to block the ball that eventually went out. Wally in the process sustained scrapes on her left knee.

“Our girls kept their patience and composure and they showed discipline. I couldn’t ask for more,” Ito said.

On offense, the NMI coach liked how their players counter-attack and were decisive in taking their shots.

“Now, we just have to finish and complete those plays in the next games, which I expect to be more intense now that we know how Guam plays,” said Ito.

It’s been a while since the NMI Women’s National Team dueled Guam and although Ito’s players were here last year for a couple of training matches, this year they faced a different team.

“The good thing with these friendlies is we now have an idea on how Guam’s current players play. You know what to expect and make the adjustments in the next game and future competitions. Players see their competition and will have helpful knowledge on how they will approach the game the next time we meet,” said Ito.

Meanwhile, Okura sees the training matches as an opportunity to evaluate not only their opponents, but also her own players. Okura also coached the Guam Women’s U18 National Team that lost to the NMI side, 0-4, last Saturday.

“These types of training matches are essential for both teams for overall development. With these as my first matches with Guam’s teams, I was able to make assessments of the players’ abilities and skills and build from this experience,” said Okura, who also serves as technical director of the Guam Women’s National Program.

“Before the matches this weekend, I was only able to watch film from previous international matches and work with the players in training sessions for only a few weeks beginning last month. We have not yet made any final selection for women’s team training squads, as I feel I need to see more from the players who regularly come to open training sessions. These first two matches were a good test and now the players will be more motivated to train harder for better results,” the Guam coach added.

Okura said they did not have competitive league matches in Guam for about two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the lack of match experience showed. She reiterated that training matches will help develop the current players and further strengthen the overall Guam Women’s National Program.

Published by Saipan Tribune - Feb 22 2022


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