The NMI U20 Men’s National Soccer Team was sent off with good luck and well wishes last Friday at the Koblerville Soccer Field for their trip to the Middle East in Amman, Jordan.
The team will compete in the Asian Football Confederation U20 Asian Cup Qualifiers from Sept. 10, 2022 to Sept. 18, 2022. The team will fly out this Wednesday, Sept. 7.
There are 10 groups in the qualifiers and the top finisher in each group and five best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup to be hosted by Uzbekistan in March 2023.
The team will have four matches and the first team they will go up against is Turkmenistan on Saturday, Sept. 10. They will then square off against Syria on Monday, Sept. 12, before taking on home team Jordan on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The NMI concludes their campaign against Chinese Taipei on Friday, Sept. 16.
The team consists of 23 players, namely Leo Takahashi, Reginald Aljo Pascual, Akira Kadokura, Jerald Araquel Aquino, Brian Mallari Lubao, Markus Joaquin Attao Toves, Taka Hoimoto Borja, Anthony John Nicolas Bergancia, Ruben Antonio Cabrera Guerrero, Anthony Jampadai Austria, Ariel Jacobus Narvaez Jr., Brandon Tyler Limes Tenorio, Leland Isaiah Camacho Deleon Guerrero, Cody Soriano Shimizu, Jonne Alvey Navarro, Daniell Mar Pablo, Merrick Vicente Attao Toves, Vicente Jose Babauta Reyes, Jason Senobio Quimzon, Richard Ramon Steele, Rintaro Miyawaki, Kohtaro Sangel Goto, and Dev Ashok Bachani.
They will be joined by Michiteru Mita, head coach; Mae Angelie Ito, team manager; Chi Ming Tang, assistant coach; Jireh Kuartei Yobech, technical analyst; Hazel Leoncio Mabasa, team doctor; Christopher Dela Rosa Aninzo, assistant manager; and Davy Joshua Laxa, kit manager.
In attendance during the send-off were Northern Marianas Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan, NMIFA Executive Committee member Catherine Attao Toves, and family and friends of the team.
Tan gave a speech in the beginning of the ceremony and said among many things, that the “program really other than allow our kids to compete and be better players and hopefully go on to play college and professional one day is really the opportunity to travel to many, many different countries…this is really something that we’re very happy for our players, and the coaches that have the opportunity to not only compete, but to actually travel to new [countries] that most of us probably would never have a chance to visit in our lifetime. But they can do it at the age of 16, 17, 18… Do your best. You’re fighting for the flag. You’re representing CNMI. And I know it’s a contact sport. But please always observe the good sportsmanship on the pitch. Good luck to all of you, and enjoy the journey.”
He then thanked the parents in attendance and said thank you so much for your support. I know most of them are not new players. They came out from our grassroots when they were eight or 10 years old. Because of you, that’s why they’re able to be today.”
Mita and Attao-Toves, who has two sons on the team, also said a few heartfelt words toward the athletes, parents, and people in