Three matches against highly competitive squads await the CNMI Boys U18 National Team as it heads to Hong Kong this weekend for a five-day training camp.
“This training camp is very important for us to prove our current level and improvement and build confidence,” Teen Ayuyus coach and Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita said in an interview with Saipan Tribune last Tuesday.
The 18-player squad will leave for Hong Kong this Sunday for the training camp that will run until Dec. 14. In the former British colony, the Teen Ayuyus will be playing against Chelsea FC HK U18 and Kechee Soccer Club U18, and the All Blacks.
The training camp was arranged through Chelsea FC Soccer School (Hong Kong) technical director Luam Khen Koo and coach Jacky Lee after NMIFA president Jerry Tan vowed to look for other opportunities for the Teen Ayuyus who missed last month’s AFC U19 Championship 2018 Qualifiers.
“The boys have been practicing hard for the AFC tournament since last year. Unfortunately, we couldn’t participate. However, the boys stayed positive, looking to new vision which is the Marianas Cup 2018,” Mita said.
The Teen Ayuyus were supposed to play against Australia, North Korea, and Hong Kong in the AFC U19 Championship 2018 Qualifiers from Oct. 31 to Nov. 8, but decided to withdraw from the qualifier after a venue change about three weeks before the competition kicks off. Australia was the original host country, but had to drop out of its hosting duties due to travel issues against North Korea. Vietnam was then designated as the neutral host, leaving the Teen Ayuyus with limited time and funds to make new travel arrangements. A neutral venue meant participating teams must pay $25,000 to the host country.
After passing on a chance to square off against Australia, North Korea, and Hong Kong, the Teen Ayuyus will now test their mettle against three tough teams in Hong Kong.
“We will play against Chelsea and Kechee U18, which both have players on the Hong Kong national team. They are also among the top youth clubs in Hong Kong,” Mita said.
As for the All Blacks, the Teen Ayuyus coach said the squad is organized by African players, who are either currently playing or had played in Hong Kong professional league
“All games will be very tough so it will be a very good opportunity to expose ourselves to strong teams and show them how we play football,” said Mita, who wants to see the Teen Ayuyus be more aggressive on offense in their training matches in Hong Kong.
“We try to build our style of play, which is attacking football. Football’s most exciting part is scoring a goal. To score, our team has to possess the ball. We kept training to improve ball possession using the field wide and depths. I want to see how much we can create chances while having possession against strong opponents,” the coach added.
The Hong Kong-bound squad is composed of Joshua Abragan, Kirt Andon, Christopher Aninzo, Thaiphi Austria, Louie Calayag, Jonathan Capayas, Joshua De Leon, Euly James Ermitanio, Anthony Fruit, Hark Joshua Galarion, Eun Syu Hahn, Sebastien Manabat, Joshua Mendez, Dai Podziewski, Ryan Relucio, John Michael Rojas, and Sunjoon Tenorio. Ruselle Zapanta is the team manager.
“I’d like to thank Coach Koo and Jimmy for the arrangement in the HK side, my boys and coaching staff for their hard work, and also the clubs, parents, supporters, and NMIFA for helping us get this opportunity. We will do our best to bring best results for our supporters,” Mita said.