With the CNMI Boys U16 National Team over with the first game jitters, the squad has settled down in the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Proof of the Teen Ayuyus getting the hang of playing in a high-level tournament against much experienced teams was their better performance against Brunei last Monday, two days after being humbled by the Philippines.
“The team took everything they learned from their previous game against the Philippines and used the experience as their backbone. The boys were visibly more confident during this game. They were not as nervous and were more focused than they were against the Philippines,” team manager Mikky Vargas said.
The CNMI was shut down by the Philippines and gave up seven goals in its debut in the Group G qualifier. Then against Brunei, the Teen Ayuyus held their ground in the entire first half, preventing their opponents from making it to the board.
“The team’s spirit reverberated throughout the entire match, and although we were up against physically stronger, faster, and more experienced players, we were able to end the first half without conceding any goals,” Vargas added.
Brunei eventually hit five goals in the second half. Then just when the CNMI seemed headed for another goal-less game, Kohtaro Goto scored. It may be just one goal and way behind Brunei’s output, but head coach Michiteru Mita and his staff were very proud of it.
“The goal was not a set play or a mistake by the opposition in their defensive half. It was the result of a deliberate and calculated build-up. It only took a couple of seconds to orchestrate, but the boys have been practicing for months back home just to be able to create those specific moments that led to the goal. It was certainly a moment that the entire team could take credit for,” Vargas said.
“The team received loads of compliments from spectators, including AFC officials and the officials from other teams. Coach Mita was interviewed after the match and was also asked to talk about the goal. It was definitely one for the books,” the team manager added.
Meanwhile, the Teen Ayuyus had their penultimate game last night and it’s another test of character match, as they faced host Indonesia and its adoring fans. Then tomorrow, the CNMI crew will close out its campaign in the qualifier when it takes on China.