‘Very good experience’ for U20 NMI National Soccer Team

Posted on Oct 03 2022

NMI National Team head coach Michiteru Mita makes a speech during the sendoff ceremony of the NMI U20 National Team last month for the Asian Football Confederation U20 Asian Cup Qulifiers in Amman, Jordan.(LEIGH GASES)

The NMI U20 Men’s National Soccer Team that competed in the Asian Football Confederation U20 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Amman, Jordan last month lost all four games they played, but head coach Michiteru Mita said it was a “very good experience.”

The U20 AFC qualifiers was held from Sept. 10 to 18 and the team played against four countries. 

Their first game was against Turkmenistan, which they lost, 0-7; their second game was against Syria, which they lost 0-10; their third game was against home team Jordan which they lost 0-16, and their last game was against Chinese-Taipei which they lost 0-9.

With that, Mita said “it was [a] very, very good experience despite the result and all challenges. [The] boys and the teams [had a] very good experience on and off the pitch…”

He then shared that one of NMI’s U20 players, Kohtaro Sangel Goto, who is currently in college off-island, messaged him saying that he scored a goal in his college soccer game, showing that after the tournament experience, he was still motivated “and is working hard.” 

With the tournament, he said that “the AFC tournament is the professional setting so every country—the players want to be professional, so this is [a] high-level tournament. Our boys got experience, so playing with [those] higher level teams and the players in the professional setting, was a good experience for the team and for the boys.”

When asked what team was the most challenging that they faced, he said Jordan was the hardest because it was the home team, which had a huge home crowd cheering them on. 

He added that the players were exhausted after already playing two games prior to facing off with Jordan.

Mita did say that all the matches they played were tough “because it’s not [only] about the opponents, but because of the weather, the travel times, and also different time[zones], the jetlag. The kickoff time was like, 9 o’clock—we are not used to playing that late. So, all aspects…” 

He said they played a really good first game but after, some players fell sick and one player even had a concussion. 

“It was hard to perform every match at the best level because of the conditions,” he said, but “despite all these challenges, the boys also did their best—this is [an] experience you cannot get in this [normal] life. So, this is definitely a valuable experience for their future.” 

The team included 23 players, namely Leo Takahashi, Reginald Aljo Pascual, Akira Kadokura, Jerald Araquel Aquino, Brian Mallari Lubao, Markus Joaquin Attao Toves, Taka Hoimoto Borja, Anthony John Nicolas Bergancia, Ruben Antonio Cabrera Guerrero, Anthony Jampadai Austria, Ariel Jacobus Narvaez Jr., Brandon Tyler Limes Tenorio, Leland Isaiah Camacho Deleon Guerrero, Cody Soriano Shimizu, Jonne Alvey Navarro, Daniell Mar Pablo, Merrick Vicente Attao Toves, Vicente Jose Babauta Reyes, Jason Senobio Quimzon, Richard Ramon Steele, Rintaro Miyawaki, Kohtaro Sangel Goto, and Dev Ashok Bachani.

Mita and the players were joined by Mae Angelie Ito, team manager; Chi Ming Tang, assistant coach; Jireh Kuartei Yobech, technical analyst; Hazel Leoncio Mabasa, team doctor; Christopher Dela Rosa Aninzo, assistant manager; and Davy Joshua Laxa, kit manager.

Eight of the U20 players are currently en route to Australia for the Asian Football Confederation U17 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

Leigh Gases
Leigh Gases is the youngest reporter of Saipan Tribune and primarily covers community related news, but she also handles the utilities, education, municipal, and veterans beats. Contact Leigh at leigh_gases@saipantribune.com.
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