A confident CNMI Women’s National Team is heading to Guam today for the EAFF E-1 Football Championships 2017 Round 1.
“This team is now confident that they can win games,” said coach Luam Khen Koo after the squad completed its training camp in the Philippines and won two of their three friendly matches there last week.
“Three or four years ago, they were not confident as they struggled to work on their skills. This time, they are improving and it shows in their games. They are playing with confidence,” Koo added.
The coach joined the rest of the team in a send-off ceremony yesterday at Kanoa Resort. The women’s squad has an 18-player roster led by captain Gabrielle Race. Completing the group are Chevy Kate Alipio, Elaine Enriquez, Sarah Allen, Bernadette Horey, Jeralyn and Jeraldine Castillo, Lyka Sally, Mikky Vargas, Guinevere Borja, Chloe Salvosa, Dianne Pablo, Gillian Villagomez, De Jana Muna, Krizzel Mae Tuason, Carla Mae Ballesteros, and Taylor Knecht, team manager Angie Ito, and assistant coach Jacky Lee.
“The training camp in the Philippines was very helpful because our girls were able to compete against different players with high level skills,” Koo said.
The CNMI women’s crew first played Nomad FC and lost, 1-2, with Borja scoring the lone goal for the Commonwealth off a pass from Jeraldine Castro. Next up for the visiting team was Ateneo University and this time the former won, 2-1, off Jeraldine Castillo and Pablo’s goals. In their last game (against Chelsea FC Philippines, Salvosa had a pair, while Knecht added one for the 3-2 victory.
“Those were good wins and a big boost to the players’ morale. I just hope they will bring that momentum in Guam and avoid silly mistakes that could give our opponents chances to score,” Koo said.
“They have to keep their focus in the game all the time and not let their guards down,” he added.
In Guam, the CNMI bets will be facing the host team and Macau with the top finisher in the round-robin tournament moving into the second round of competition, set for November in Chinese-Taipei.
“We beat Macau before, but we don’t know if they will have the same team. As for Guam, they always have a strong team, so we really have to work doubly hard to keep up with them,” Koo added.
The CNMI clobbered Macau, 7-0, during the 2015 EAFF East Asian Cup at the Guam Football Association on July 24, 2014 in Guam, a day after the Commonwealth earned its first international match in the men’s division with the Blue Ayuyus edging Macau, too, 2-1.