The CNMI Girls U13 Team is showing progress after each game in the AFC U13 Girls Football Tournament being played in Nanjing, China.
The squad, which is composed of Carla Mae Ballesteros, Guinevere Borja, Maile Aldrich, Britany Wally, Mary Kay Alferos, Patricia Santiago, Jesreelyn Bulaklak, Angelica and Lyka Sally, Bernadette Horey, Angelina Villagomez, Diana Maniacop, Samantha Manacop, Jasmine Phan, De'Jana Muna, Yna Poquiz, Renita Fleming, Chevy Alipio, Krizel Tuazon, and Chloe Salvosa, so far had challenged three teams, debuting against powerhouse Japan last Saturday, facing North Korea last Sunday, and dueling Chinese-Taipei yesterday.
Against Japan, the CNMI strikers lost, 0-25. In their second game, the Commonwealth bets bowed anew, but limited North Korea to only 11 goals. Then against Chinese-Taipei, coach Jimmy Tang's wards held their foes scoreless in the first half before losing, 0-2.
“I am not surprised with the result of our match against Japan, which is a very strong team. We went into the match not knowing the formation Japan was going to use. All of our players are beginners, so it was a huge disadvantage for us to play our first match against a team that is very skilled. After the first goal, the team lost its confidence and mental fatigue began to set in,” Tang said through an email assistant coach Patricia Coleman sent to Saipan Tribune.
After the loss to Japan, the CNMI regrouped and this time played better defense.
“The girls played well against North Korea. They followed the game plan and they were able to focus more on my instructions. At the end of the first half, the score was only 0-5.
The positioning and defending improved greatly compared to our first match. Our goalkeeper, Carla, had the best performance since I first saw her train on Saipan,” Tang said.
The Commonwealth strikers continued to play tough defense in the third game yesterday and hit their target-limit Chinese-Taipei's goals to single digit.
“If we can keep the score in the single digit against Taipei, this will be a huge accomplishment for our team,” said Tang before yesterday's game.
“Our girls continue to fight hard every game and for that we should all be proud,” Tang also said during an interview with the Chinese media.
After playing for three straight days, the CNMI strikers will have an off today and will return to the pitch tomorrow to face the host China. Then Tang and company will complete the six-country tournament against South Korea on Thursday.
The AFC event in China is a first for the members of the CNMI U13 Team and Tang said the tournament will be very helpful for the young Commonwealth strikers.
“This competition is a lesson. They must learn from the competitors. Overall, the technique of the team has improved, but it lacks competition experience. Getting experience takes time,” Tang said.