The CNMI Boys U18 National Team will regroup and focus on the next tournament after the close loss to the Guam All-Stars in the Marianas Cup 2017 last Sunday at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo.
“This game gave us a hard lesson and it was an emotional loss for the team. Now, we will continue to gel the team dynamics to work as a unit in preparation for the AFC U19 qualifiers. Back to training when we get back home,” Teen Ayuyus team manager Ruselle Zapanta said a few hours after Guam’s 1-0 victory victory against the CNMI last weekend.
Devan Mendiola broke the visiting squad’s heart when he scored the winning goal in the 52nd minute. Before Mendiola’s dagger, the Teen Ayuyus’ defense repeatedly foiled the hosts’ attempts to score. On offense, the CNMI crew had its fair share of possessions and opportunities to hit the board, making the match anybody’s ballgame.
“Our rivalry with Guam is strong and it is a bitter feeling to lose to them. We win as a team and we go down as a team. We can’t make any excuses and instead have to work hard and play to the best of our ability. The team is upset about the result. We wanted the win, but unfortunately we fell short so we have to work much harder and play with more passion,” Zapanta added.
The greater desire to play to their full potential should be seen in the Teen Ayuyus’ next mission—the AFC U19 Championship 2018 Qualifiers—as they will be up against powerhouse Australia, the tenacious North Korea, and the persistent Hong Kong. The Group J qualifier will be held in Australia from Oct. 31 to Nov. 8.
“We’ve been practicing together for about a year and we will continue to work on our teamwork, skills, and tactics as we know we will be up against tough teams in Australia. Our focus after the Marianas Cup will be the AFC tournament,” team captain Ryan Relucio said during a send-off ceremony for the Teen Ayuyus last Friday.
Relucio started out for the CNMI in their game against the Guam All-Stars and was with goalie Chris Aninzo, Anthony Fruit, Alex Park, Euly James Ermitanio, Hark Joshua Galarion, Louie Calayag, Sunjoon Tenorio, Joshua De Leon, and Mareko Tekopua. Assistant coach Jonathan Takano called the shots for the Teen Ayuyus in absence of head coach and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita, who was off-island for official business.
As for the Guam side, Mendiola was joined on the starting 11 by goalie Sean Evans, Nichika Fermin, Eddie Huang, Takumi Ito, Clayton Mitchell, Noah Duenas, Joshua Calvo, Takumi Odell, Jordan Jasmin, and Seung Min Kim. Mark Chargualaf coached the Guam All-Stars, while Kimberly Sherman was the team manager.