The CNMI U14 National Team made it to the win column in the AFC U14 Regional Festival of Football 2015 after blanking Guam, 4-0, last Saturday at the National Football Training Centre in Beijing, China.
According to a report that reached team manager Derek Chambers, Jonah Pohl led the Teen Ayuyus’ victory, as he nailed a hat-trick in the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association-backed squad’s penultimate match in the weeklong event. Other details of the CNMI-Guam tiff were unavailable at press time.
The win over Guam came two days after the Teen Ayuyus scored their first goal in the festival against Chinese-Taipei. Incidentally, it was also Pohl who recorded the lone goal for the CNMI, which eventually fell to Chinese-Taipei, 1-4.
“Sometime in the last 10 minutes of the game, goalkeeper John Bucayo made a long kick from the goal box, sending the ball right into the defensive line. Jonah got a head on the ball, which then bounced off a couple of our players (with Jonah saying Andruw Omelau was involved somehow), landing just past their defense. Chinese-Taipei’s goalie came out to meet the ball, but Jonah got a little tap on it that sent the ball into the goal for CNMI’s first goal of the festival,” Chambers said.
Pohl was part of the Teen Ayuyus’ starting unit, joining forces with goalie Clayton Izuka, Cole Chambers, David Mafnas, Jonathan Capayas, Joshua Abragan, Joshua De Leon, Thaiphi Austria, Eddie Cho, Dai Podziewski, and Leandro Bichayda. Omelau came off the bench early in the second half, while Logan Mister, Mark Esalan, and Sebatian Manabat also had the opportunity to play in the final 30 minutes of the match.
The CNMI gave up an early goal to Chinese-Taipei, which lit up the board in the fifth minute. The Luam Khen Koo-coached squad then made some defensive adjustments to keep Chinese-Taipei from scoring.
“We held them off until the last few seconds of the first half when they scored their second goal. Their players were very skilled and strong,” Chambers said.
In the second half, the Commonwealth players held their ground in the first 10 minutes before Chinese-Taipei got its third goal, while the fourth one came in the closing minutes of the match.
After dueling Chinese-Taipei, the CNMI’s U14 watched the remaining games last Thursday.
“Taipei played its second game of the day against Guam. Guam started off good and held Taipei off a little longer than we did for the first goal but once Taipei got their rhythm, there was no stopping them. By the end of the first half, we saw Taipei score eight goals. Most of our players left at halftime to go get warm or go watch Hong Kong play,” Chambers said.
Meanwhile, the Teen Ayuyus were scheduled to play North Korea yesterday morning for their last match in the tournament, however results of that game were unavailable at press time and will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition.
Before facing its toughest foe in the festival, the CNMI got to watch North Korea play last Thursday.
“We walked over and watched the second half of the China vs. North Korea game. By the time we got there Korea had scored two goals and China had not scored. Both were very fast teams, but Korea is much more technical and aggressive. We will have our hands full when we play them on Sunday (yesterday),” said Chambers, who is now in Laos along with Izuka, Austria, Abragan, and Capayas to join the CNMI U16 National Team that is competing in the AFC U16 Championship India 2016 Qualifiers.