CNMI to focus on defense in AFC qualifier


Coach Luam Khen Koo supervises the CNMI U19 Women’s National Team’s training session at the Oleai Sports Complex Field last week.
(Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Defense will be the CNMI U19 Women’s National Team’s battle cry as its competes in the AFC U19 Women’s Championship 2017 Qualifiers in Nanjing, China, starting tomorrow.

“This will probably be the toughest competition for our young players so they really have to focus on defense to limit the scoring of Australia and Jordan. Our realistic goal is to keep the scoring to single digits,” said coach Luam Khen Koo in an earlier interview with Saipan Tribune.

Koo and the 18-player women’s team left Saipan for China last Friday. The Commonwealth squad is made up of captains Chloe Salvosa and Dianne Pablo, goalies Chevy Kate Alipio, Carla Ballesteros, and Toremy Diaz, defenders Elaine Enriquez, Krizel Tuazon, De Jana Muna, Samantha Manacop, Grace Choi, Pinyarat Shankweiler, Anela Duenas, and Bernadette Horey, and midfielders Diana Maniacop, Lyka Sally, and Jasmine Phan, and forwards Angelica Sally and Guinevere Borja. Assistant coaches Jimmy Tang and Lalaine Pagarao, physiotherapist Pam Carhill, team manager Mikky Vargas and officials Yu Hung Lee and Longwen Ji joined the CNMI players and Koo in Nanjing.

“We are practicing a lot of defensive strategies during our training sessions and hopefully these will work when we face Australia and Jordan,” Koo said. “If we have opportunities to score, we will take it. We will see what Australia and Jordan’s defense will give us.”

Before debuting in the U19 qualifiers, the Commonwealth bets had training matches against teams from Jiangsu Football Association over the weekend.

“We will only be playing against two teams in the AFC qualifier so it’s good to have additional matches to maximize the squad’s trip in China and give them more experience playing against other very competitive teams,” Koo added.

The CNMI, Australia, and Jordan are in Group A of the qualifiers and only the top team in the pool will advance to the championship round and join early finalists South and North Korea, Japan, and China. Singapore and Lebanon were originally included in Group A, but they pulled out due to funding problems.

The Commonwealth players will duel Australia tomorrow at 4pm (2pm) and the former’s game against Jordan is also set for 4pm this Friday.

Three other groups have their respective qualifiers with Group B now down to two teams—Chinese-Taipei and Uzbekistan, who have similar 2-0-0 win-draw-loss record in the tournament that started last Sunday. Host Taijistan and Hong Kong complete the group. Group C also has four teams in Thailand, Palestine, Kyrgyztan, and host Myanmar, while only Iran, Vietnam, and India are playing in Group D.

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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