Teen Ayuyus gear up for AFC tournament


Players and officials of the CNMI Boys U15 National Team pose for a photo at the departure area of the Saipan/Francisco C. Ada International Airport last Friday before heading to the Philippines for a training camp. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI Boys U15 National Team is in the Philippines for an eight-day training camp, as the group builds up for the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers.

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita and coach Jersh Angeles and the 22 players of the team left Saipan for the Philippines last Friday and kicked off their training sessions right the next day. The 22-player roster is made up of Joe Emil Antonio, Jerald Aquino, Gabriel Arkoh, Dev Bachani, Richard Castro, Jeremiah Diaz, Chad Escaner, Oliver Fajardo, Kohtaro Goto, Dane Hodges, Akira Kadokura, Jose Lopez, Brian Lubao, Jim Kirt Maniago, Dylan Mister, Ariel Navarez, Daniell Mar Pablo, Jerick Quimzon, Andrew Sablan, Leo Takahashi, Merrick Toves, and Garrett Weaver.

Besides the regular drills that aim at strengthening and polishing the squad’s individual and group skills, the Teen Ayuyus also played a training match against a team from their host—Tuloy Foundation—at the Tuloy XO Field in Alabang last Saturday. Yesterday, the group was also scheduled to face De La Salle Zobel, while its remaining training matches for this week will be against Kaya FC, Stallion FC, and Tuloy. The visiting team will also participate in community outreach programs organized by Tuloy Foundation.

“Most of the boys will be playing off-island for the first time and against different countries, so this training camp is very important for the team and for the players,” said Angeles, who had the group watched a game between the Green Archers United and Stallion FC in the Philippines Football League last Sunday.

“It will also help our players to be more independent and improve their life skills outside their comfort zone. It will be challenging, but we know that this camp will help them improve a lot technically, tactically, and as a team,” he added.

After the training camp, the Teen Ayuyus will have less than two months to put the finishing touches in their preparations for the AFC qualifier (Group G), which will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia from Sept. 14 to 22. Besides the host, the CNMI will be playing against China, Brunei, and the Philippines.

The top finishers in each of the 11 groups in the qualifiers plus the five best runners-up will qualify in the finals that will be played from Sept. 3 to 16, 2020 with the venue yet to be determined.

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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