CNMI builds up prep for AFC tourney
The CNMI U19 National Team has its hands full in the last two days, holding multiple training sessions in preparation for the AFC U19 Championship Bahrain 2016 Qualifiers in Thailand.
Team manager Ruselle Zapanta told Saipan Tribune that the squad trained in the morning and afternoon last Tuesday and yesterday after arriving in Chonburi Sunday evening.
“Last Tuesday, we worked on our technical skills in the morning and had a short scrimmage in the afternoon. The team is still trying to gel back together after three players from the U.S. rejoined us,” Zapanta said.
Scott Kim, Won Young Kim, and Jordan Butcher arrived in Chonburi for the training camp last Monday, joining Joshua Galarion, Joel Fruit, Yoshi Mafnas, Greg Sablan, Terrence Belcher, Josh Diego Masga, Sean Perez, and Ryu Tanzawa, who flew from Saipan to the Thai city. The other members of the squad—Christopher Aninzo, Emmanuel Aniana, Mareko Tekopua, Euly Ermitanio, Alan Hinson, and Chad Shankweiler along with coach Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, assistant coach Jershwin Angeles, and delegation head Elna Curate came from Laos. Kennedy Izuka, who is still on Saipan, and Kansas-based Hunter Jewell complete the team and will be arriving in Bangkok in time for the qualifier set for Sept. 28 to Oct. 6.
“We’re having a good training session overall. The players are gaining valuable experience and an overcast throughout the day (last Tuesday) and a drizzling afternoon helped with the humid weather,” Zapanta said.
Yesterday, the group had a short training session in the morning as it was scheduled to travel to Si Racha District to play against the touted Assumption Christian College.
“It will be a good test for the boys as I’ve heard from our liaison that they run a good football program and develop a lot of Thai national players,” Zapanta said.
Meanwhile, news of the CNMI’s training camp in Chonburi has reached local TV—Thairath—and the media company conducted an interview with Sekiguchi and some Commonwealth players.
Shankweiler during the interview said the team is progressing well and is prepared for the tournament in Bangkok where they will face the host, South Korea, and Singapore. Shankweiler added the Teen Ayuyus will use the support they are getting back home as inspiration to get a positive result from the AFC qualifier, while Fruit said the team must work together always to keep pace with their opponents.