The CNMI Boys U18 National Team made it to the board in its first training match at the Changnyeong Sports Park in South Korea last Monday.
The Teen Ayuyus found the back of the net just six minutes into the second half, thanks to Sunjoon Tenorio’s conversion off a one-on-one play against Japan’s Kunimi High School. The CNMI forward’s goal tied the match, 1-all. Kunimi, a champion team in Japan, earlier hit the board first off a header in the 33rd minute of the 80-minute game.
“Right back Carlson (Cruzat) sent the ball behind the defense line and Sunjoon was able to beat the last defender and had a 1v1 against the goalkeeper. He took the shot and scored,” assistant coach Jershwin Angeles said in a report forwarded to Northern Mariana Islands Football Association.
The match remained even until Kunimi connected on a penalty kick from Mareko Tekopua’s foul in the box in the 54th minute. The Japanese high school team then gained more cushion as it scored off another header in the 69th minute, while the winning squad’s last goal came a minute later.
Despite the 1-4 loss and playing under conditions that’s hotter than Saipan, the Teen Ayuyus remained upbeat as they managed to attack Kunimi’s defense on several plays and kept the ball longer.
“The CNMI team tried to build up in attacking and possessed the ball longer. The heat was very challenging for all of us, I believe it is hotter here than on Saipan,” said Angeles, adding that head coach Michiteru Mita has scheduled today’s weight measurement and jogging, beginning at 6:15am to avoid the searing heat.
More work for players, coaches
The work for the CNMI squad and its coaches did not stop after their match against Kunimi.
Mita and goalie Christopher Aninzo attended a goalkeeper training last Monday afternoon, joining other representatives from Japanese and Korean teams that were playing in the youth football festival.
Clayton Izuka and John Bucayo were under the weather and missed the goalkeeper workshop, according to Angeles. Kim Byung Ji, who played for South Korea in 2002 World Cup, facilitated the clinic.
While Mita and Aninzo were working with Kim, the rest of the team watched the afternoon match between Shujitsu FC of Japan and Gwangju FC of Korea.
“Players were divided into two groups and they analyzed the two teams based on how they attack, defend, make transition, and use tactics. During the halftime and at the end of the match, the players presented their answers and had discussions. Coach Mita wants the boys to always communicate with each other and analyze other teams’ tactics,” Angeles said.
Meanwhile, the Teen Ayuyus were slated to face New Yangdong FC of Korea at 5pm (6pm Saipan time) yesterday for their second training match. The games in South Korea are part of the CNMI team’s five-day training camp.