CNMI humbled by Iran


The CNMI U16 Women’s National Team starters pose for a photo before their game against Iran in the AFC U16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers last Saturday in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI U16 Women’s National Team was routed by Iran, 12-0, during the opening game in the AFC U16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers last Saturday in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Iran scored six goals each in the first and second half of their Group C match to join Singapore in the win column. Singapore downed the host country, 4-1, in the other game in the opening day.

“Iran has a team made up of much stronger, faster, and more experienced players. From start to end, they were aggressive and were always trying to make plays to expose the space in our defense line in order to score,” team manager Liz Phan said.

“Our team worked on playing a collective defense, taking chances to send the ball over the opponents’ defense but with 80 percent of them being collected by Iran’s tall line of defense. Despite of this, our girls never stopped and at the end of the game the girls were in good spirits and thankful for the experience,” she added.

Fourteen players suited up in the CNMI’s debut game with goalkeeper Marinel Falalimpa leading the squad’s starting unit. Also playing as starters for the Commonwealth were defenders Khristelle Itaas, Sharmaine Francisco, Julian Hall, Lillian Podziewski, and Jenny Ann Capayas, midfielders Jannah Casarino, Nathanette Blas, and Katrina Costales, and forwards Paulyn Joyce and Emiliana King. Christina Atalig, Abegail Decena, and Sydney Hinds were the substitutes.

The CNMI players took a break yesterday and will return to action today, as they take on Tajikistan in the 7pm match (12 midnight Saipan time).

“We were able to watch the first half of Tajikistan versus Singapore and the girls mentioned they feel like they have a chance to make offensive plays against the hosts,” Phan said.

After the match versus Tajikistan, the Luem Khen Koo-coached team will have a three-day break before it faces group favorite Thailand on Sept. 21 in the 4pm tiff. Then for their last game, the Commonwealth bets will meet Singapore on Sept. 22, also at 4pm.

“All the teams in the tournament are the ones that our girls have never played against before; we don’t know what to expect, but I believe the girls will play their best. The game starts even before the players step onto the pitch. Although we don’t know what the results of the matches may be, what’s important is that we expect to improve after every game,” the team manager said.

Meanwhile, the four other groups have also started their respective qualifiers last weekend.

In Group A, Guam won over Sri Lanka, 4-2, while Jordan and Uzbekistan had a scoreless draw. In Group B. India topped Hong Kong, 6-1, and Mongolia shut down Pakistan, 8-0. Indonesia edged Palestine, 3-2, in their Group D match, while Vietnam eased past United Arab Emirates, 4-0, and Lebanon did the same against Bahrain, 8-0, in the Group F games.

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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