The CNMI U16 Women’s National Team played better defense in its second game in the AFC U16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers, limiting host Tajikistan to just three goals in their Group C duel last Monday in Dushanbe.
The visiting squad, which lost to Iran, 12-0, held the home team to just one goal in the entire first half before giving up two in the second.
“From the beginning, the girls did their best to stay disciplined and it seemed to have paid off, as Tajikistan players were unsure how to play the ball forward and instead kept the ball moving from their defense to midfield and back. The first half ended at 1-0 for Tajikistan,” said team manager Liz Phan, adding that Tajikistan got a goal off a break, as there was a miscommunication between the defense and CNMI goalie Marinel Falalimpa.
The goalkeeper was joined on the Commonwealth’s starting unit by defenders Kristelle Itaas, Sharmaine Francisco, Julianne Hall, and Jenny Ann Capayas, midfielders Joannah Carreon, Jannah Casarino, Nathanette Blas, Christina Atalig, and Katrina Costales, and forward Paulyn Joyce. Abegail Decena and Lilian Podziewski also played against Tajikistan, replacing Blas and Atalig, respectively. Podziewski came in midway in the first half, while Decena entered the pitch in the second.
“Going into second half, the girls continued to play the same game. The opposing team was able to get back-to-back goals, but the girls didn’t falter in their confidence and kept playing,” Phan said.
Overall, the team manager said the CNMI players followed goalkeeper coach Jimmy Tang’s teachings.
“The girls played according to the ‘3 Cs’ principles taught to them by Coach Jimmy: Compactness, communication, and collectivity,” Phan added.
With two games down, the Commonwealth bets have two more matches left and they have three days to prepare before they face Thailand in their penultimate match on Sept. 21. The CNMI will close out its campaign in the qualifier on Sept. 22 when it collides against Singapore and despite a 0-0-2 win-draw-loss record and having two even tougher opponents, the 18-player team remains positive.
“The wonderful thing is how the girls are never negatively affected by their losses and instead, they are always looking forward to the next game. Little by little, we can see the changes in mentality they are adopting,” Phan said.
Meanwhile, in other results in Group C, favored Thailand crushed Singapore, 6-0. Singapore came from a 4-1 win over Tajikistan in the opening day in the pool.
Thailand will go for win No. 2 today when it takes on Tajikistan, while Iran and Singapore will square off in the other pairing in Group C. The Top 2 finishers in the pool after the round-robin play will advance to Round 2.
Other results last Monday had China whipping Guam, 20-0, and Jordan shutting down Sri Lanka, 7-0, in Group A; Lebanon beating United Arab Emirates, 6-3, and Bangladesh routing Bahrain, 10-0, in Group F; and Laos downing Pakistan, 3-0, and Hong Kong nosing out Mongolia, 2-1, in Group B.