CNMI U16 Women’s Team holds training camp

The CNMI’s Sharmaine Francisco, right, slides to deflect a kick from a Quality Distributor player during a training match at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo last Monday. (Guam Football Association)

Members and coaches of CNMI U16 Women’s National Team are off-island for a six-day training camp in preparation for their participation in the AFC U16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers Round 1.

The camp started in Guam with the 20-player squad challenging Quality Distributor in a training match last Monday. The visitors held their opponents to a scoreless first half before Quality Distributor managed to score three goals in the second.

“The girls did very well defensively during the first half of the game (30 minutes). Because of our disciplined covering and collectivity in our defensive half, we were able to hold the opposition to zero goal at halftime. Our goalkeeper (Emalyn Aniana) played such an essential and active role in containing the attacks of Quality Distributors—an area we used to struggle with in the past—­which only attests to our continued growth,” team manager Mikky Vargas said.

Aniana started out for the Commonwealth, along with captain Julie Anna Hall, Sharmaine Francisco, Paulynn Joyce, Lana King, Sue Anne Huevos, Summer Manahane, Jannah Casarino, Khristelle Itaas, Katrina Costales, and Nathanette Blas. Other members of the team are Christina Atalig, Jenny and Julie Capayas, Joannah Carreon, Abegail Decena, Keisha Deleon Guerrero, Marinel Falalimpa, Sydney Hinds, and Sophia Quintos. Jimmy Tang is the head coach and is assisted by Angie Ito, while Olympian Luan Khem Koo and Yu Hung Lee are the head of delegation and assistant team manager, respectively.

After the scoreless first half, Quality Distributors women’s players used their experience and capitalized on the CNMI bets’ fatigue to notch three goals.

“Unfortunately, our girls’ lack of game fitness began to show during the second half of the game. Because of fatigue, they were no longer disciplined in covering collectively which created many holes for the opposition to attack,” Vargas said.

“Although they were unable to come back, the coaches believe that they played very well and put up a great fight considering the experience, age, and skill difference of their opponents. Furthermore, with a handful of first timers, the girls now have a realistic idea of what soccer outside of our island demands from a player. After the game, many of them acknowledged their need to better their fitness level and showed a new found understanding as to why coach Koo pushes them so hard during the fitness part of their training sessions back home,” the team manager added.

After the short stop in Guam, the CNMI team headed to the Philippines and was scheduled to arrive there yesterday morning. They will play two matches in the PH besides holdings training sessions at Tuloy Foundation, Inc., a non-profit group that provides residential care and services, including soccer training, to children and youth.

Upon completion of its training camp, the team will fly back to Saipan to continue their preparation for the Asian Football Confederation-sanctioned tournament.

The AFC U16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers Round 1 will take place from Sept. 15 to 23 with the CNMI heading to Tajikistan to play against the host, Thailand, Iran, and Singapore for the Group C matches. Five other pools will have their separate qualifying tournaments with the winners in each pool and two best runners-up advancing to the second round that will be played next year. Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, and Bangladesh are the hosts in the five other groups.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for 16 years. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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