The CNMI U15 Boys National Team was pitted against China instead of Japan in its second game in the East Asian Football Federation U15 Boys Tournament and fell to the host last Wednesday in Xianghe.
Tournament organizers had earlier announced the rained-out CNMI vs China tiff was to be played on July 26, leaving the Teen Ayuyus to prepare for a duel against Japan. However, EAFF went back to the original schedule and the CNMI ended up facing China, which cruised to a 10-0 triumph for a 2-0 record (pending results of yesterday’s games) in the tournament.
Despite failing to score against China, the Teen Ayuyus, who won over Macau in their first game (1-0), were credited for limiting the host’s production in the first half.
“The boys did extremely well during the first half of the game. Our defense was very disciplined. They were collective and played as one unit and because of this we were able to intentionally gain the ball from the opponent and transition from defense to offense. We created a few scoring opportunities, but unfortunately, we’re unable to capitalize. The team was focused and they played with confidence despite being tiny in both size and experience compared to China. As a result, the first half ended with CNMI conceding only 3 goals,” team manager Mikky Vargas said.
Zhijie Cai, Yan Li, and Yuwang Xiang scored for China in the 12th, 17th, and 20th minute, respectively.
It took a while for the Chinese to hit the board anew in the second half, but when they did, the goals came one after another. Zihan Gui made back-to-back shots in the 57th and 59th minute, Wen He also had a pair, while three other players lit up the board in the second half breakaway.
“During the second half of the game, the boys lost their focus and we started conceding soft goals. Their confidence dropped and because of this, the team went into its bad habit of busying itself with pure defense. We could no longer transition from defense to offense and China took advantage of our team’s lack of attacking unit,” Vargas said.
Despite their lapses, Vargas said the Teen Ayuyus try to stick to the positives.
“Coach (Michiteru) Mita believes that the boys really tried to get results for this game. Although we lost, we gained some experience and he’s confident that the team will use this experience to help them in the next match against Japan tomorrow (yesterday),” Vargas said.
The CNMI was scheduled to face Japan in the 4:30pm match (6:30pm Saipan time). Japan won its first two matches in the tournament, beating China last Monday, 2-0, and Chinese-Taipei last Wednesday, 6-0.
After their match over Japan, the Teen Ayuyus will square off against Mongolia today and then will meet Chinese-Taipei tomorrow. Mongolia, after two games, had a 1-1 record, losing to Chinese-Taipei in the opener, 0-6, and winning over Guam last Wednesday, 4-2.