The CNMI Men’s and Women’s Nationals competing in the preliminary round of the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup have a mix of youth and experience.
In the 18-player preliminary roster of the CNMI Men’s Nationals, veterans Nick Swain, Kirk Schuler, and Steve McKagan are included on the list. These three players had already suited up for the CNMI team in previous men’s competitions. Joining them are young guns Bo Barry, Lucas Knecht, Raphael Zapanta, Brian Lee, Kenneth Domingo, Enrico Del Rosario, and goalie Gregzon Fontanilla, who are all products of Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s youth leagues.
Rounding out the preliminary roster are various men’s league mainstays like Eric Cooke, William Dunn, Dan Westphal, Peter Loken, Joe Miller, Arkie Reusora, Ruselle Zapanta, and goalie Dan Stafford.
Midfielders Del Rosario and Lee are the youngest members of the team at 15, while defender Westphal is the most senior at 42.
On the women’s side, Gabrielle Race is the youngest at 14. Other young blood on the team are Jeralyn and Jeraldine Castillo, Phalai Frink, Melody Johnson, Mikky Vargas, Alexa Vergara, and Marielle Gariguez. They will team up with veterans Katie Peters, Natalie Hill, Megan Herber, and Carrie Schuler. Completing the squad are goalkeepers Jhaneeka Atalig and Rachel Masga, defender Marilou Gariguez, midfielders Liezel Tiples and Lyvette Lacina, and forward Michelle Masga.
Joining the women’s team are officials Luan Khen Koo, Wai Wo Lee, Jimmy Tang, Lalaine Pagarao, and Angie Ito. The men’s side has coach Chikashi Suzuki, goalie coach Johann Noetzel, team manager Norman Del Rosario, and officials Jake Lee and Jershwin Angeles.
Both teams will announce their official 18-player rosters this weekend in time for the women’s squad’s departure for Guam on Sunday. The two squads will also have a mini camp before they leave. The women’s team’s camp will be from today to Saturday, while the men’s will have their turn from Friday to Sunday and they will leave Saipan on Monday.
In Guam, the women’s team will debut against the host on Tuesday and then will collide against Hog Kong next Thursday. All CNMI matches will be played at 4pm.
The men’s squad’s first game is against Guam, too, on Wednesday and the last will be versus Macau next Friday.
The top team in the men’s and women’s divisions will advance to Round 1 competition. The second round of the men’s division will be played in Hong Kong with the host Chinese-Taipei and North Korea joining the qualifier. China will host the Round 1 competition for the women’s division and will challenge the representatives of Chinese-Taipei and the winner in the Guam qualifier.
Details about the venues and participating nations for the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup have yet to be announced.
By Roselyn Monroyo