Blue Ayuyus start prep for EAFF tourney


The CNMI’s Hark Joshua Galarion, right, is seen here in a file photo taken during the EAFF E-1 Football Championships 2019 Round 1 getting tangled with Guam’s Marcus Philip Lopez in the first half of their match at the Mongolian Football Federation Stadium in Ulan Bator. (EAFF Photo)

The islands’ players will be back at the NMI Soccer Training Center today to begin their preparations for the EAFF E-1 Men’s Football Championship 2021 Preliminary Round 1.

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director and CNMI Men’s National Team head coach Michiteru Mita will start the tryouts and training for the Blue Ayuyus who will play in the East Asian Football Federation-sanctioned tournament this year (definite dates and venue will be announced later). Training schedule will be every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting at 6pm and on two Saturdays (Jan 11 and 25 at 4pm and 6:30pm, respectively).

Players eligible to join the tryouts should be competing in the M-League Division A and U19 youth league. Those who have suited up for the CNMI youth and men’s teams are encouraged to participate in the tryouts and training, which will be held three times a week once the M-League and 2020 NMIFA Spring Youth League kick off.

Off-island players are also welcome to join the tryout, but they must inform NMIFA of their intent to be part of the national squad by Jan. 31. Off-island players must be currently playing in a soccer club or varsity team and training on a regular basis under a coach. A video of the player’s matches (between January to March this year) should also be submitted if he could not make it to the tryouts. Videos must be submitted by March 31.

NMIFA will be selecting 23 players to represent the CNMI to the preliminary competition.

In 2018, the Blue Ayuyus played in the EAFF E-1 Football Championships 2019 Round 1 at the Mongolian Football Federation Stadium in Ulan Bator and challenged the host country, Guam, and Macau. The CNMI lost to Guam (4-0) and Mongolia (9-0) before closing out with a draw (1-1) against Macau, with Sunjoon Tenorio drilling the equalizer for the Blue Ayuyus.

Mongolia went on to advance to the second round, but missed the finale, which South Korea won last month after eking out a 1-0 victory over Japan at the Busan Asiad Main Stadium in Busan.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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