The CNMI Girls U15 National Team wrapped up its participation in the 2019 East Asian Football Federation U15 Girls Festival, getting one more goal in its last two matches and a lot of lessons from highly competitive squads.
The Commonwealth players dueled Chinese-Taipei in their penultimate game at the Mokpo International Football Training Center in South Korea last Friday with Kaithlyn Chavez scoring in the team’s 1-5 loss. Then last Saturday, the CNMI challenged China with the latter coasting to a 9-0 victory.
The winning margin against China maybe wide, but it did not reflect the way the CNMI players stepped it up a notch higher on defense.
“The team had a great experience at yesterday’s match (Saturday). Although we lost to China, the girls enjoyed the game against a strong and skilled opponent. Our defense was much more solid and we are happy to see the performance of all the players, especially the new players,” team manager Mae Ito said.
“The team has gained so much knowledge and experience from their matches, training sessions, and observing other national teams on and off the field,” she added.
Before their last two matches, the CNMI watched Japan play against Hong Kong—the best finisher in Group B after winning all its three matches. Japan had a 2-1 mark in Group A, taking the top spot by edging China and South Korea in goal difference. The Japanese, who did not bring their national team and instead were represented by the Japan Football Association Academy players, hammered Hong Kong, 19-0, and later crushed Guam, 22-0.
“The girls were astonished at how beautiful and sharp their techniques were and how they moved and played as a team. One player even asked how are they able to do all of that since they are in the same age group,” Ito said.
CNMI coach Luem Khen Koo responded: “Training, training, training!”
Another Commonwealth player got into the conversation and said she will do her best not to missing any training.
Meanwhile, EAFF handed out individual awards after the tournament. Japan’s Kotona Sakakubara was named MVP, while her teammate, Honoka Hamano was the top scorer in the event. Other awardees were best goalkeeper Pan Hongyan of China, best defender Hyeonjeong Lee of South Korea, and best midfielder Chan Chung Man Karri of Hong Kong.