Teen Ayuyus go for final push


CNMI head coach Michiteru Mita points out a play during a training session of the national team at the Koblerville Elementary School Field. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

With the AFC U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers fast approaching, the CNMI U15 Boys National Team is going all out in its preparation for next month’s competition.

The Teen Ayuyus have about two weeks left to train before they head to Thailand for the Group G qualifier that will run from Sept. 16 to 24 and head coach Michiteru Mita said they will spend the final stages of their practice sessions fine tuning the players’ skills, conditioning, and tactics and team strategies.

“We will focus on tactical understanding and improving our teamwork and physical fitness. We will especially work on team defending and improving our chances to have more ball possessions,” said Mita, who gauged the squad’s readiness for the Asian Football Confederation-sanctioned tournament at seven.

“We are at seven at this moment, but we will push further and try to make it to 10 in the last two weeks. As you know, we have limited soccer environment compared to the teams we will be facing in Thailand. However, my boys and the coaching staff are doing their best always to prepare for the AFC tournament,” the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director added.

Mita, along with assistant coaches Jershwin Angeles and Jonathan Takano, are working with the Teen Ayuyus four times a week since they got back from a training camp in Guam last month. They are consistently putting hours of practice time despite the uncooperative weather, training at the indoor pitch at the TSL Sports Complex to polish individual and team plays.

Twenty-two players are attending the rigorous training sessions and the number will be down to 19 today when Mita and his assistant coaches name the members of the squad that will represent the Commonwealth to the AFC tournament in Thailand.

The qualifier will take place at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok with the Teen Ayuyus debuting against Indonesia on Sept. 16. For its second game, the CNMI will face host and early favorite Thailand on Sept. 18, while the Teen Ayuyus’ match versus Laos is set for Sept. 20. For their final game, the Commonwealth players will take on Timor-Leste on Sept. 24. The top finisher in the round-robin play in Group G will advance to next year’s finals along with the winners in the nine other pools.

“We will do our best to bring positive results from Thailand,” said Mita, who thanked the squad’s supporters.

“We continue to get a lot of support from the parents and NMIFA and they are a big boost to the team. We appreciate all the help we are getting from them. Keep cheering for your Teen Ayuyus,” the head coach said.

The Teen Ayuyus will leave Saipan for Thailand on Sept. 14.

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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