After more than two days traveling to Wuhan, China, the CNMI U16 National Team settled for a site visit instead of a practice before its scheduled game against the host squad in the kick-off day of the AFC U16 Qualifying Tournament.
Team manager Wes Bogdan in an email to Saipan Tribune said the squad and some of its officials arrived in Wuhan separately last Tuesday afternoon and evening due to the cancellation of their flights from Guangzhou last Monday.
“There has been no opportunity to practice since we arrived here in Wuhan, but the team is fine, the players are very excited,” said Bogdan, who joined the Teen Ayuyus, coach Johann Noetzel, and assistant coach Jershwin Angeles in visiting the Hankou Culture and Sports Stadium yesterday morning.
“It’s raining lightly in Wuhan. The pitch is relatively fine as they are draining it nicely,” the team manager added.
The site inspection came less than 24 hours before the Teen Ayuyus played China last night in the second game in the opening day of the Group I qualifier. The CNMI-China tiff was scheduled for 7:35pm (9:35pm Saipan time). In the first game at 3:30pm, North Korea was slated to duel Myanmar.
The Group I qualifier will continue on Friday with the CNMI expected to practice today to prepare for its outing against North Korea tomorrow. Then on Saturday, the Teen Ayuyus will challenge Myanmar.
Meanwhile, Northern Mariana Islands Football Association would like to extend its appreciation to CNMI delegation head Elna Curate for taking charge in rebooking flights for the Teen Ayuyus and the team officials. NMIFA also thanked association vice president Vickie Izuka for ensuring ground transportation arrangements with the tournament organizers.
The CNMI delegation left Saipan for the AFC event last Sunday and made it to Manila for their connecting flight to China late night the same day. The delegation arrived in Guangzhou Monday morning, but had to stay there overnight as its flight was cancelled due to Typhoon Usagi. The first group (players and coaches) finally made it to Wuhan late Tuesday afternoon, while some officials arrived in the evening.