Training camp to gauge NMI U18’s progress


NMI Boys U18 National Team coaches and players gather for a group photo at the departure area of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport yesterday morning before heading out to Guam for a training camp at the Guam Football Association National Training Center. (Contributed Photo)

The CNMI Boys U18 National Team is now in Guam for a training camp and will use the event to gauge its progress after more than a year of exclusively training on island under the challenging COVID-19 restrictions.

The 21-player squad left Saipan early yesterday morning and began its training camp last night at the Guam Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo. The squad is made up of Aloyzeus Angeles, Dev Bachani, Anthony Bergancia, Taka Borja, John Ezekiel Canape, Kadne Church, Jeremia Diaz, Kohtaro Goto, Ruben Guerrero, Dane Hodges, Akira Kadomura, Brian Lubao, Ariel Narvaez, Daniel Pablo, Reginald Pascual, Jason Quimzon, Andrew Sablan, Richard Steele, Rinto Takahashi, and Markus and Merrick Toves. Completing the delegation are head coach Michiteru Mita, coach Jersh Angeles, assistant coach Martin Jambor, and team manager Ronnel Ocanada.

“This training camps for both NMI U18 and NMI Women’s have a great significance to our national team program’s progress. This is our first international trip and play since the pandemic. Although all international tournaments were postponed, our national teams have continued training for one year and half now,” Mita said.

“Our national team players have continued to hard work and remain motivated for future tournaments. These training camps give our players the opportunity to evaluate our progress and direction,” the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director added.

Without international exposures, Mita said the NMI U18 players tried to work on their individual and team games during the M-League Spring 2021 where the team finished second to TanHoldings Football Club in Division A and led the competition in goal difference. However, the style and level of play in the M-League are definitely different from off-island games, so the NMI 18 team welcomes the training camp in Guam.

“We set up plays for international standards. However, the domestic league is much different from the international play where opponents’ speed and pressure of the game are at the different level. Playing against Guam, our boys would get to experience that different speed and pressure. Through these matches we will know our progress,” Mita said.

The visiting team will meet Guam U18 squad twice with the first match set for 7pm tonight and second this Thursday at 6pm. Before the evening matches, the NMI U18 crew will have training sessions every morning beginning today until Thursday. A two-hour training session was also set yesterday and the squad will follow the same schedule on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, NMIFA general secretary Ross Zapanta thanked GFA president Tino San Gil, executive director Cheri Stewart, and all GFA staff for their full support to the two training camps. The host FA provided NMI players, including the NMI Women’s National Team that had their training camp in Guam last week, with equipment, training rooms, and two vehicles.

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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