Teen Ayuyus leave for AFC event


Players and officials of the CNMI Boys U16 National Team pose for a photo during a send-off ceremony for the group at Kanoa Resort last week. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

The CNMI Boys U16 National Team left Saipan early this morning to compete in the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Head coach Michiteru Mita left with the 23-player squad along with team manager Mikky Vargas, assistant coaches Jersh Angeles and Patrick McCallion and equipment manager/goalkeeper coach Christopher Aninzo. Joe Emil Antonio, Jerald Aquino, Gabriel Arkoh, Dev Bachani, Richard Castro, Jeremiah Diaz, Chad Escaner, Oliver Fajardo, Kohtaro Goto, Dane Hodgers, Xin Wen Jin, Akira Kadokura, Jose Rafael Lopez, Brian Lubao, Jim Kurt Maniago, Alex Megino, Ariel Narvaez, Daniel Mar Pablo, Jerick Quimzon, Andrew Sablan, Leo Takahashi, Merrick Toves, and Garrett Weaver are on the Teen Ayuyus’ roster and they left Saipan for Incheon, South Korea for their connecting flight to Indonesia.

The CNMI crew is expected to arrive in Jakarta later today and will have a day and half to prepare for its first game in the Group G qualifier against the Philippines. The CNMI-PH tiff is scheduled for this Saturday at 7pm (10pm Saipan time) at the Madya Stadium.

The CNMI’s Leo Takahashi tries to control the ball during a training match against Guam. Takahashi and the rest of the CNMI Boys U16 National Team left Saipan for Indonesia to compete in the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers. (Guam Football Association)

“This is it. All the months of training and working hard will come down to this AFC tournament. We have to show how far we have gone and what improvements we have,” said Mita.

“I am sure the players will do their very best to represent the CNMI well. They made it this far after going through months of training and it’s time to play with confidence and trust the process, believe that they are prepared to play in this high-level tournament,” the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director added.

Mita admitted that all the teams they will face in the AFC qualifier are tough squads and he hopes the little scouting he did will help the Teen Ayuyus when they duel the host, Philippines, China, and Brunei.

“I watched the Philippines play against Indonesia last August and also Brunei against the Philippines. They are very good teams. I tried to analyze some matches, got as many information from these teams, and worked on some plays that will reduce the gap. And as for China, it is the top team in the group,” Mita said.

The CNMI will be battling China, Brunei, and the Philippines for the first time in the U16 age group and Indonesia for the second. The Indons crushed the Commonwealth bets, 18-0, when they first collided during the same U16 qualifier in 2017 in Bangkok.

“Our biggest motivation against Indonesia is definitely not to let them get that big win again,” Mita said.

The Teen Ayuyus will challenge the host on Sept. 18 for their third game, while the former’s second match will be versus Brunei on Sept. 16. The CNMI will wrap up its campaign in the qualifier on Sept. 20 when it squares off against China.

The top finishers in Group G and 10 other pools plus the five best runners-up will qualify in the finals that will be played from Sept. 3 to 16, 2020.

CNMI Boys U16 National Team goalie and captain Merrick Toves, second left, gets a save, while his teammates prepare to head back to the play during a training match in Guam this year. (Contributed Photo)

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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