The CNMI U14 Girls National Team finished their assignments in the AFC U14 Girls Regional Championships in Beijing, China over the weekend.
The Commonwealth bets played their final pool play (Group B) game last Sunday at the China National Football Training Centre and showed their best defensive form in the tournament, holding Chinese-Taipei to only one goal. The CNMI youth players shut down Chinese-Taipei in the first half before allowing Chung Tzu-En to score in the 59th minute.
“We played tough defense against Chinese-Taipei and also had some good attacking plays,” CNMI U14 Girls National Team manager Angie Ito wrote on the squad’s unofficial website. “There was so much communication from the goalkeeper (Chevy Kate Alipio) and the defense line. Both center backs assigned their midfielders and left and right backs players to pick up and to zone marking. Players were encouraging each other and the goalkeepers (Alipio and Carla Ballesteros) had many great saves.”
Before last Sunday’s match, Chinese-Taipei came from a 6-0 spanking of Hong Kong for the former’s second straight victory after dropping its opener against South Korea last Friday, 0-6.
“After the final whistle, Chinese-Taipei was frustrated and disappointed because they were able to score only one goal against us,” Ito added.
Before dueling Chinese-Taipei, the CNMI opened their campaign in the tournament last Friday against Hong Kong. The rematch of last April’s friendly game saw Hong Kong downing the Commonwealth players, 4-0. In the Girls International Youth Football Invitational Tournament in Hong Kong, the CNMI forced a 1-1 draw against the host behind the goal of Guinevere Borja.
“All four goals were scored in the first half. Although the team was not pleased with the result of the goals, they did play better than last year. We had more attacking plays and a lot more buildups. In the match we had at least eight shots. We had so many buildups but lacked the finishing touches,” the team manager reported.
Next up for the CNMI players was South Korea and the eventual top finisher in Group B hammered its foe, 7-0.
“The team played against one of the strongest squads in the tournament. In the first half, we held them to three goals. Our keepers did well in this game with so many saves. South Korea had a difficult time scoring in the opening of the first half and because it was difficult to penetrate through our defense and midfield line, they started to score from outside the box and had to keep switching the ball,” Ito said.
South Korea got its first goal in the 15th minute off Noh Jin Young’s conversion.
With pool play done, South Korea and Chinese-Taipei advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. South Korea was scheduled to meet Japan in yesterday’s semifinals, while Chinese-Taipai was paired against Group A top finisher North Korea in the other Final Four pairing. Winners in the semis matches will collide for the East championship tomorrow, while losers will play in the consolation round.
The CNMI brought 18 players to the East regional championship. Joining goalkeepers Alipio and Ballesteros and Borja in the competition were Luisa Alcantara, Katherine Angeles, Angelica Carreon, Jerlyn Castillo, Anela Eliza Duenas, Bernadette Horey, Samantha Manacop, Diana Maniacop, De’Jana Muna, Angelia and Lyka Sally, Pinyarat Shanweiler, Madeleine Taisacan, Krizel Tuazon, and Angelina Villagomez. Luam Khen Koo coached the team with Shuk Fun Wong and Chi Ming Tang as his assistants. Completing the CNMI delegation was team physiotherapist Pam Carhill of Marianas Health Services.