CNMI yields less goals to Thailand


The CNMI Boys U16 National Team’s Joshua Mendez, center, reaches in for the ball to deny possession to Thailand’s Arthit Bua-Ngam, while the former’s teammate Ian Karl Maniago steps in for help defense during their game in the Group G of the AFC U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers last Monday at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok. (Asian Football Confederation Photo)

The CNMI U16 Boys National Team surprised Thailand with a much improved defense during the first half of their game in the Group G of the AFC U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers last Monday at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.

Eager to assert their might over the Teen Ayuyus, who suffered a 0-18 loss at the hands of Indonesia, and please the adoring home crowd, the Thais were denied from putting on a show early as the hosts did not score until the 30th minute.

Midfielder Punnawat Chote-Jirachaithon ended Thailand’s growing frustrations with just 15 minutes in the first half off a shot from the corner. The hosts went on to win their opening match in the qualifier, 10-0. Although they scored in twin digits, the Thais were held to three goals in the first half—three less than what the CNMI yielded against Indonesia last Saturday.

With the Teen Ayuyus limiting Thailand gunners to three goals in the first half, coach Salvador Valero Garcia can’t help but give praises to the visiting squad’s defense.

“From the first match Northern Mariana Islands played against Indonesia, they have improved a lot and it was difficult to play against them in this game. This is why we didn’t play well in the first half,” Garcia was quoted as saying in the story posted at the Asian Football Confederation website.

CNMI head coach and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita also had kind towards to his squad.

“We studied the Thai game during the AFF U15 tournament (where Thailand finished as runner-up). Thailand is a strong team, but we kept the score down in the first half which is good for us. I am pleased with the team’s performance during the first half. Although Thailand scored lesser goals against us than Indonesia, I think they played much stronger than the Indonesian side. They can find gaps and the potential of their players is very good,” Mita said.

Against Thailand, Mita nearly used the same first 11 with goalkeeper Jason Quimzon leading the roster. He was joined on the starting lineup by team captain Sebastien Manabat, Joshua Mendez, Kirt Andon, Ichiro Borja, John Michael Rojas, Mark Esalan, Terrance Montenegro, and Eun Syu Hahn. Ian Karl Maniago and Razeff Altamirano were also on the Teen Ayuyus’ first 11, while Taka Borja, Kaden Church, and Joseph Rasa were the substitutes.

As for the Thais’ side, midfielders Thanarin Thumsen and Sarawut Saowaros and forward Nattakit Butsing also started the game and made two goals each. Two more starters Arthit Bua-Ngam, Jakkrapong Sanmahung, and substitute Thakdanai Jaihan chipped in one goal apiece.

“The Thais played very technical. They had a lot of short snapping passes and made effective use of their spaces. They weren’t pressuring as high as Indonesia, but they were able to capitalize later on in the second half of the game,” CNMI team manager Rodwealth Espana said.

“As expected, Thai fans cheered the home team non-stop for 90 minutes. Nevertheless, we surprised the home crowd, showing them that an island of a little over 55,000 is able to concede only 3 goals in the first half to a country of nearly 69 million people and where soccer is the No. 1 sport. We are extremely happy with our players’ performance,” Espana added.

After their match against Thailand, the Teen Ayuyus took a rest yesterday and will resume their campaign in the qualifier today when they take on Laos at 4pm (7pm Saipan time).

“Laos is another strong team with more international experience. Please support the boys. We always tell them before each game that their family and friends are watching their game live. They’re not only playing for themselves or for the coaches, but also for the whole CNMI,” Espana said.

Laos lost to Timor-Leste, 2-5, during the Group G opener. Timor-Leste then missed a perfect record when it fell to early leader Indonesia, 1-3. Indonesia will face Thailand in the other match today with the former’s win giving them a spot to next year’s finals.

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

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.