The CNMI U14 Girls National Team will play its first game in the AFC U14 Girls Regional Championships (East) 2015 today when it takes on host China.
The CNMI-China tussle is set for 5pm (7pm Saipan time) at Pitch 6 of the National Football Training Centre in Beijing. Also scheduled in the opening day of the tournament is the 2pm duel between Hong Kong and North Korea at Pitch 5.
The Commonwealth squad will be suiting up for its first match after having only one day to practice since arriving in Beijing last Sunday. The CNMI bets will be colliding against one of the favored teams in their group and are expected to work doubly hard to neutralize China’s attackers.
“It will not be an easy opening game. For sure our girls will be very busy on defense,” team manager Angie Ito said during a send-off ceremony for the CNMI delegation last Saturday at the lobby of Kanoa Resort.
“China along with North Korea are the top teams in our group and are in the same level with Japan in Group A so we have to be in our best defensive form to at least limit their goals to single digit,” Ito added.
Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, who is also part of the Commonwealth’s delegation, added that playing against high-level teams like China is good for the CNMI’s youth players.
“They will have a hard time against China and other top teams, but they can use these games to observe and learn techniques from their opponents. This tournament is also good for our new players as they will experience what it is like to play in an AFC event and the experience will help them play better the next time they compete,” Sekiguchi said.
The CNMI brought 18 players to Beijing for the six-day competition. The list includes Katherine Magat, Toremy Diaz, Katrina Costales, Anela Duenas, Samantha Manacop, Jasmin Phan, Angelica, Leisha, and Lyka Sally, Erica Santiago, Jobelle Tabuena, Kyla Tuazon, Angelina Villagomez, Grace Choi, Jerlyn Castillo, Francesca Bucalig, Guinevere Borja, and Princess Alcantara.
After its game against China, the Commonwealth’s youth players will duel North Korea tomorrow and challenge Hong Kong this Thursday. The Top 2 finishers in Group B after the round-robin contest will advance to the semis against the first two placers in Group A, which has Guam, South Korea, Chinese-Taipei, and Japan.