With the CNMI U16 Girls National Team almost done in its campaign in the AFC U16 Women’s Championships 2017 Qualifier, it’s now the CNMI U14B Boys National Team’s turn to take the center stage when it competes in the 2016 AFC U14 Festival next week.
The Jershwin Angeles-coached U14 crew will leave Saipan for Beijing, China this Sunday to play against four other teams in the festival.
“There are 10 countries in the festival and most likely, they will be divided into two groups so we are guaranteed of four matches,” Angeles said during a send-off ceremony for both the U14 and U16 teams last week at Kanoa Resort.
Angeles added they don’t know yet which countries they will be facing in Beijing as the draw will only take place during the manager’s meeting next week.
“If we will be grouped with Guam and Macau, our plan is to balance attacking and defending. We’ve beaten these teams before so we have a good chances of winning against them again. We’re also hoping to win or have a close game against Chinese-Taipei and Hong Kong. Against the stronger countries, we will be focusing on defense so we can limit their production,” Angeles said.
The CNMI U14 team has 11 players who will be competing in the AFC for the first time and Angeles believes their skills will compensate for their lack of experience.
“Half of these newcomers are highly skilled. I was really surprised with what they showed us during the early stages of our training session. I asked them how they learned those skills and they said during their lunch break they kicked and passed round,” Angeles said.
“We just need to polish their skills and strengthen their fundamentals. The last few weeks of our training session were also focused on team play, helping each other to make things work,” the mentor added.
The Commonwealth’s U14 squad is composed of captains John Michael Rojas and Sebastien Manabat, Mark Salamat, Kirt Andon, Ichiro Borja, Terrence Montenegro, John Guiller Canape, Jamin Elliot, Edward Cho, Mark Esalan, Joshua Waldon, Brandon Delos Reyes, Christian Aldan, Kirro Batino, Thomas Benavente, John Paul Cruz, Joshua Mendez, and Eun Syu Hahn. Completing the group are assistant coach Wai Wo Lee, NMIFA technical director and head of delegation Kiyoshi Sekiguchi, and physiotherapist Jungsang Park.
Meanwhile, the CNMI U16 Girls National Team will play their last game in Group B of the qualifier tomorrow when it takes on India at 11am (1pm Saipan Time) at the Luneng Football School in Weifang, China.
The Taketomo Suzuki-coached squad had its penultimate match yesterday, falling to South Korea, 0-11, to remain at the bottom of the team standings with its 0-0-3 mark. South Korea improved to a 2-0-0 record to tie the Philippines and boosted its chances to win the group and the slot to the finale.