Kanoa holds ground in friendlies


Kanoa Football Club’s boys U15 team performed beyond expectations in the 2018 Guam/NMI Friendlies held last week at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo.

Kanoa won a pair of games, had one draw, and dropped only one match.

“To be honest, I was surprised with how our team played, considering they haven’t been playing organized soccer since Super Typhoon Yutu hit Saipan late October. Some of them are not that fit because of the lack of games and the suspension of the 2019 NMIFA Fall Youth League, but they delivered and exceeded expectations by winning two games and holding their ground against older players,” Kanoa coach Raymond Zapanta told Saipan Tribune.

“I think it helped that some of the guys were able to train with the national team under coach Mita (Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita) several weeks after the super typhoon and before we went to Guam,” Zapanta added.

The club’s U15 squad was made up of Joe Emil Antonio, John Mark Anastacio, Zyrus Lester Bata, Markus and Merrick Toves, Renz Guiller Fauni, Sean Gil, Taehun Han, Brian and Ian Lubao, Jonathan Mindanao, Daniel Mar Pablo, and Ian Karl and Jim Kurt Maniago.

Ian Maniago had a hat trick in Kanoa’s 4-2 victory over Wings FC last Thursday with the club’s forward scoring in the 30th, 70th, and 85th minute. Brian Lubao drilled the other goal for Kanoa.

The visiting team then made it two in a row after crushing the Southern Cobras last Friday, 8-3. This time, it was Markus Toves’ turn to shine, delivering three goals in the lopsided victory. His older brother Merrick added a brace, while siblings Jim Kurt and Ian Maniago and Lubao contributed one each.

For its third game last Saturday, Kanoa was pitted against the Islanders, who were bannered by 2018 Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam Boys Soccer League Finals MVP and former CNMI national team player Ed Cho. Cho went on to knock in two goals and towed the Islanders to a 5-2 victory. Merrick Toves nailed both goals for Kanoa.

After absorbing their first loss, Kanoa players returned to the pitch and stood toe-to-toe against Wings, which fielded much experience and older players in their second outing versus the visiting squad. The match then ended in a draw, 3-3. Ian tallied two goals, while Markus added one.

“We are very happy and proud with the way our team played in all the games. If there’s one thing that they need to improve on—it’s the mental aspect of the game. When the match is intense and they hear words from our opponents, they have to learn how to handle the situation so that they will keep their focus in the game,” Zapanta said.

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.
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