The two CNMI national youth squads are back on island after completing their respective events in Japan and China.
The CNMI U17 Boys National Team returned yesterday from its training camp in Japan last week, while the CNMI U19 Women’s National Team arrived last weekend after competing in the AFC U19 Women’s Championship 2017 Qualifiers at the Jiangsu Training Base Stadium in Nanjing.
The Commonwealth’s boys team brought 20 players in Japan and they had a series of training matches against different teams in Tokyo. The squad is made up of Clayton Izuka, Christopher Aninzo, John Joseph Bucayo, Alex Park, Alan Hinson, Mareko Tekopua, Euly James Ermitanio, Carlson Cruzat, Dai Podziewski, Ryan Relucio, Terrence Evan Belcher, Sunjoon Tenorio, Joshua Abragan, Joshua De Leon, Anthony Fruit, Edwin Kim, Joshua Galarion, Chad Shankweiler, Thaiphi Austria, and Jonathan Capayas, and they were joined in Japan by Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Kiyoshi Sekiguchi and NMIFA staff/coach Jershwin Angeles.
The Teen Ayuyus dueled Briobeka Urayasu, Yokogawa, Torelos, Waseda Jitsugyo High School, Tamadaigaku Meguro High School, FC Tokyo Fukagawa U14, and Mitsubishi Yowa U17. The Commonwealth strikers dropped all their matches and scored three goals. Kiyoshi and Angeles made assessments of each game, discussing the good and bad plays the CNMI players did against their Japanese foes.
“No pain, no gain,” Sekiguchi was quoted as saying at the end of their matches. “We improved each game.”
“There were more communication from all players and more aggressiveness and passion to win the game. Though we lost to younger teams, coach Seki wanted the players to get use to the opponents’ quickness and skills so they would be more prepared in the next games,” Angeles said.
Besides the friendly matches, the CNMI delegation also had a tour at the Nissan Stadium—the biggest stadium and Japan and was the venue of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. They watched, too the game between eventual champion Urawa Reds and Yokohama Marines in the J1 League.
Meanwhile, in China, the CNMI U19 Women’s National Team played a much better defense in their second and last game in the Group A qualifier after limiting world No. 54 Jordan to four goals.
“The improvement of the team was more than evident in this game, especially from our defensive unit. Their performance today was what they’ve been practicing the past months leading to the tournament. They were compact, disciplined, organized, and smart. The girls were able to defend well as their understanding and vision of the game has reached another level. They were able to anticipate some of the Jordanians’ plays and go where they were supposed to be early instead of a second late,” team manager Mikky Vargas said.
The CNMI bets, who bowed to Australia in their opening game, 0-16, also did not shy away from the chances to score against Jordan.
“We had many opportunities to score. There were some instances where the girls had our officials on their feet screaming, ‘Go, Go!’ because of some breakaways or counter attacks. And it wasn’t the kick over the defense and run type of counter attacks. It was from actual passes and moves and through ball type of counter attacks. The coaches were very pleased with the girls’ performance. They were not expecting this level of play from them,” Vargas added.
Olympian Luam Khen Koo coached the CNMI U19 crew and was assisted by Jimmy Tang and Irish Pagarao. Elaine Enriquez, Krizel Tuazon, De Jana Muna, Samantha Manacop, Diana Maniacop, Lyka Sally, Guinevere Borja, Dianne Pablo, Bernadette Horey, Carla Ballesteros, and captain Chloe Salvoza were the CNMI’s starters against Jordan. Anela Duenas and Pinyarat Shankweiler were the substitutes, while Chevy Kate Alipio, Grace Choi, Toremy Diaz, Jasmine Phan, and Angelica Sally were the other members of the team.