The CNMI will begin its campaign in the Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers tomorrow when it takes on Brunei in the Group G opener at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
The CNMI-Brunei tiff is set for 3:30pm (6:30pm Saipan time), preceding the highly anticipated 6:30pm duel between tournament favorites Cambodia and Malaysia.
The Michiteru Mita-coached CNMI U19 Boys National Team arrived in Phnom Penh last Tuesday evening and quickly buckled down to work the following day in preparation for its first game in the competition. Captain Sunjoon Tenorio, Dai Podziewski, and Joshua Abragan, who all came from the U.S. mainland, were reunited with the 20 other members of the team yesterday and joined the crew’s training session.
“Our delegation is complete for the competition. Dai, Sunjoon, and Joshua arrived early today (Thursday), settled in and joined the team right before lunch. The team jogged by the river and completed a training session to get accustomed to our new environment. We will continue to train and stay focused,” team manager Ruselle Zapanta said.
The Teen Ayuyus will be facing the Brunei crew, which failed to win a single game in the ASEAN Football Federation U19 Championship held in Vietnam in August this year. Brunei bowed to the Philippines (4-1); Myanmar (2-0); Indonesia (6-0); Laos (1-0); and East Timor (7-2).
The three goals that Brunei scored in five games in the AFF tournament were courtesy of five-time captain Aisan Aiman, making the forward a marked man in tomorrow’s curtain-raiser.
The CNMI is hoping to have a good showing against Brunei to give the squad momentum, as the Commonwealth’s last three matches will be tough. The Teen Ayuyus will challenge host Cambodia on Monday, battle Thailand on Wednesday, and close out against Malaysia next Friday.
Malaysia was the runner-up to Australia in the AFF event and defeated Cambodia in the same competition, 3-0. Thailand edged Malaysia in the preliminaries, 1-0, while Cambodia nosed out the former, 4-3.