The Asian Football Confederation U19 Championship 2020 Qualifiers will be the CNMI’s last for the year and also the toughest, as the Commonwealth bets will be up against three high-caliber teams.
“This will be the most challenging tournament for us this year,” said Michiteru Mita, head coach of the CNMI Boys U19 National Team that will be facing host Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam in the Group G qualifying tournament, which will run from Nov. 2 to 10 at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
According to Mita, Thailand and Vietnam are ranked higher than Cambodia, but the host country defeated both squads in the ASEAN Football Federation U18/U19 Tournament last summer.
“Cambodia will be the toughest team in the group. They have the momentum and of course, the home crowd advantage. Actually, all teams are tough for us (including Brunei) because we are the lowest-ranked squad in the group,” the Teen Ayuyus head coach added.
Mita also said that the players their opponents will be fielding in the qualifier are being groomed to suit up for respective men’s national teams, so the CNMI Boys U19 National Team members have to brace themselves for a very high-level competition.
Despite the prospects of facing intimidating opponents, Mita believed that the Teen Ayuyus have enough motivation for next month’s tournament.
“To prove our development is the biggest team’s motivation. We have a limited football environment and limited resources, but we have a wonderful youth program. Our football leaders continue to working hard to develop our youth,” Mita said.
“Players grow under our youth program and play in international and high-level competitions. They show their pride and fight against giant teams until the end of every game,” the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director added.
Mita and majority members of the team will leave for Cambodia tomorrow. The CNMI’s 23-player roster is made up of Thaiphi Austria, Razeff Altamirano, Taka Borja, Joshua De Leon, Eunsyu Hahn, Joshua Mendez, Skyler Poon, Jason Quimson, John Michael Rojas, Kirt Andon, Joshua Waldo, Merrick Toves, Brian Lubao, Daniel Mar Pablo, Kohtaro Goto, Oliver Fajardo, and Reginald Pascual. Rounding out the squad are captain Sunjoon Tenorio, Dai Podziewski, Joshua Abragan, who will fly straight to Cambodia from the U.S. mainland.
Completing the CNMI delegation to the AFC event are assistant coach Jersh Angeles, goalkeeper coach Jimmy Tang, team manager Ruselle Zapanta, technical analyst Liz Phan, and physiotherapists Hazel Leoncio and Pam Carhill.