Sunday, April 10, 2011

CNMI pulls out of Pacific Games

It's final, the CNMI will not be sending football teams to the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia.

Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association president Michael White said Northern Mariana Islands Football Association decided to withdraw from the Games to avoid complications that would arise from its participation in the quadrennial meet.

NMIFA had initially informed NMASA that it will send men's and women's teams to New Caledonia and White then informed the Pacific Games Council that the CNMI will be competing in football.

However, the CNMI's participation to the Games hit a snag after NMASA was informed that the football competition in New Caledonia will be used as an Oceania Football Confederation qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and OFC, which is sponsoring the tournament, does not want a non-OFC member to compete in Noumea. The CNMI is affiliated with the Asian Football Confederation (associate member) and East Asian Football Federation (regular member).

“To avoid further problems, NMIFA gracefully decided to withdraw from the tournament and respect OFC's decision and NMASA commends the local football association for doing the right thing,” White said during the NMASA meeting on Thursday at the conference room of the Gilbert C. Ada Gymnasium.

White added NMIFA will not be penalized for withdrawing from the competition as per the Games' rules and regulations. A team that confirmed participation to the Games in February, but pulled out in the last minute will pay $1,000 penalty. However, NMIFA will not be fined, as its withdrawal was done for a good reason. White also said the council assured members that it will be taking necessary steps so conflicts like these will not happen again.

NMIFA through its general secretary Ed Salas, who was present at the meeting, said they made the decision for the best interest of everybody.

“We don't want to risk our application with AFC and FIFA by joining the tournament, which eventually became a Oceania qualifier. We may face possible sanctions from AFC if we do that. Also, we don't want to cause problems for other nations competing in New Caledonia,” Salas said.

While the CNMI is now out of the woods, Guam is not. Guam is also affiliated with AFC and EAFF, but at press time has yet to inform the council whether they will be pulling out or will still compete.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

CNMI football success is Guam's dream

CNMI football success is Guam's dream

By Roselyn Monroyo
Reporter

A relieved Richard Lai, president of Guam Football Association, showed up at the banquet for the 4th Annual Marianas Football Cup and shared the mixed emotions he felt during the Guam-CNMI tussle last Saturday at the Oleai Sports Complex Field.

“About two minutes before the match ended and with CNMI ahead, I was nervous. It seemed like we were about to lose a game against the CNMI for the first time,” Lai said during the banquet at the Seaside Grill of Saipan Grand Hotel.

After a scoreless first half, the CNMI took a 1-0 lead when Joe Miller nailed a goal in the 68th minute off a gamble by Guam goalie Brett Maluweng.

“But at the same time, I was proud, as several years ago, this CNMI players were just getting the feel of the game and we are helping them reach the competitive level of play by playing against them. Now, CNMI players improved significantly and they were about to beat us,” the GFA head added.

Fortunately, Jason Ryan Cunliffe saved the day for Guam, drilling a late goal in the 89th minute to force a 1-1 tie.

“My boy, Jason came out with the gutsy play and scored, just like what he did during the EAFF preliminary in Guam last year,” Lai said.

Cunliffe made a game-tying goal for Guam in the 91st minute during their match against Macau, allowing Guam to rule the preliminary tournament and beat eventual runner-up Mongolia.

With or without Cunliffe's game-saving goal last weekend, Lai had his hats off to CNMI players, its coaches, and officials for a well-organized event and for giving Guam another tough game.

“It there's one organization which will be proud to see CNMI players improved, it would be GFA. Your success in football is our dream. We will do our best to help Northern Mariana Islands Football Association develop its program and continue improving their players' skills,” Lai added.

Meanwhile, Lai and the Guam men's and women's team members and coaches thanked organizers of the Marianas Cup for providing them a much improved pitch.

Two years ago, Guam strikers struggled in a bit rocky and dry Oleai pitch. Then more than a month before this year's Marianas Cup, NMIFA through the help of both the private and public sectors rehabilitated the pitch, which now resembles the manicured greens of a golf course.

NMIFA president Jerry Tan thanked all those who contributed to the successful staging of the Marianas Cup and vowed to keep the good condition of the Oleai pitch and seek improvement of other fields to ensure safety of the players.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Marianas Cup ends in 1-1 draw

From the Saipan Tribune:
Marianas Cup ends in 1-1 draw
By Roselyn Monroyo
Monday, June 21, 2010

Almost, but not quite.

The CNMI Men's National Football Team was poised to pull off an upset over rival Guam when Jason Ryan Cunliffe scored a late goal, forcing the two neighbors to share honors in the 4th Annual Marianas Football Cup as the Saturday match at the Oleai Sports Complex Field ended in a 1-1 draw.

The host smelled blood when forward Joe Miller found the back of the net in the 68th minute, giving the CNMI a 1-0 lead.

All the Commonwealth's strikers needed to do was play tough defense and frustrate the visitors' attackers. CNMI goalie Chris Nelson and company did just that for nearly 20 minutes after Miller's goal until Cunliffe found one small lapse on the host's defense.

Guam swung the ball to the left with Cunliffe leading the attack and finding himself inside the penalty box. Two CNMI defenders faced Cunliffe, while Nelson instead of leaning to his left opted to move to his right to provide help defense in case the Guam forward decided to inch in closer and pass his defenders.

Nelson had been successful in running after Guam attackers and quickly diving for the ball in the first half and in the opening minutes of the second half. However, this time Cunliffe read the defense well and instead of moving in closer, he stopped and made a cross kick to the right where CNMI defenders were unavailable to block the shot. Nelson made a last-ditch effort of saving the ball, but was unsuccessful.

Cunliffe knocked down the equalizer in the 89th minute and with only a minute left in the match, Jason Schroeder had two chances to score from the left corner, but just could not get the ball to roll in.

When the game ended past 7pm, it took match commissioners a while to decide how to resolve the draw. Stressing the importance of players' safety and considering the inadequate lighting at the pitch, officials, in consultation with both teams, decided to call it a night and declare the CNMI and Guam as co-champions of theMarianas Cup.

Saipan hosted the Marianas Cup for the second time since its inception in 2007. In the first three editions, Guam came out the winner all the time.

Guam and the CNMI's fortunes seemed headed for a switch Saturday afternoon, as the host turned out to be the aggressor at the start of the match.

The CNMI surprisingly dominated possession in the first half and each time the home team had the ball and went for an attack, it drew loud cheers from the crowd, majority of whom obviously rooted for the Commonwealth's strikers.

The loudest roar came when Miller lit up the scoreboard on a shot inside the penalty box. Yikiomi Adachi started the offensive play when he sprinted to the left corner and made a pass to Miller in the center. Guam goalie Brett Maluweng then saw Miller moving closer, so the former gambled on stealing the ball before the latter could hit it. Maluweng paid a dear prize for the gambit, as he collided with Miller and the ball slipped away from his hands. With Maluweng still on the ground, looking for the ball and Guam midfielder Jude Bischoff a few steps late for a rescue, Miller found himself alone in the center and kicked the ball in.

The remaining minutes after Miller's goal were scary for the CNMI, as it repeatedly tried to foil Guam's attempts to equalize, until Cunliffe found one small opening on the host's defense to save the day for the visitors.

After Cunliffe's goal, the CNMI was left with limited options on offense, as Miller was already on the bench. Miller was injured and was pulled out of the match several minutes after he scored.

The CNMI had three more casualties due to the intense game, which saw a lot of shoving and accidental collisions. First to go out was Edwin Cruz, who fell on the ground after banging against a Guam defender. Next was Peter Houk, who also collided with a Guam defender in the second half. Houk and Cruz both went out of the game in a stretcher, but managed to go home in one piece. Midfielder Gilmark Reusora left the game midway in the second half limping, as he rammed into Maluweng while trying to recover a loose ball near the goal box.

As the game ended in draw, the CNMI was without its four starters, while Guam had two players forced to sit on the bench due to injuries.

“Injury definitely took its toll on us. We're just a few minutes away from victory, but unfortunately, Guam had time to tie the game. Still, I believed we did a pretty good job tonight, as the players gave their all in the game. Maybe next time, we will finally catch them,” CNMI captain Nick Swaim said.

“What you saw tonight was a high-level competition and we're just proud to give Guam a tough match, which something we always strive for every time we play against them,” he added.

1-1 draw makes CNMI, Guam co-champions in 2010 Marianas Cup

From the Marianas Variety:
1-1 draw makes CNMI, Guam co-champions in 2010 Marianas Cup
MONDAY, 21 JUNE 2010
BY EMMANUEL T. EREDIANO - REPORTER

THE CNMI national team had the bleachers roar in applause by hitting the first goal of the game leading to a jubilant climax of the 2010 Marianas Football Cup at the Oleai Sports Complex’ field last Saturday.

Guam battled from one goal down during the last 15 minutes of the second half, then, Jason Ryan Cunliffe put the ball into the net in the 89th minute to seize an equal share of what the CNMI national team had in their clutches: The 2010 Marianas Football Cup Championship crown.

The first half ran somehow fast as both teams burst into aggressive plays.

“It (the fist half) was supposed to be slow. But it turned out that both teams were excited playing very hard against each other,” CNMI team’s Pete Charles Houk said in an interview after the game. He noted that both teams had equal time of ball possession in the raging first half.

That equality lingered all the way to the presentation of awards that followed after the game as the match commissioner cited inadequate lighting in the field for an over time, thus, declaring CNMI and Guam co-champions of this years’ Cup.

The dawn was over when the time was up so it was decided not to go on with a tie-breaking extra minutes “to avoid unnecessary injuries.” Indeed.

At least five players—four with CNMI and one with Guam—went flat on the ground shrieking in pain due to cramps.

Except for Gilmark “Arkie” Resoura who still managed to rise back on his feet despite cramps on both legs, both team’s casualties left the field on stretcher.

The CNMI begun to have the advantage as early as the middle of the first half when team captain Nick Swaim immediately figured out who in Guam team they need to get rid of.

“Get the No. 12, Get the No. 12,” he always commanded every time they were in the defense. It worked really well depriving Cunliffe the ball and the clear view of the goal all the way to the end of the first half.

For Team Guam, there were so many NMI attackers to get rid of. The one that goalie, Brett Maluweng appeared too confident about was Joe Miller who always poised to attack from the center.

In the 68th minute, Miller was approaching right from the center where he always did from the very start. The ball came his way. Maluweng brace himself for the short-range hit, he knew would he get it.

Guam’s burly goalie blocked the first kick, but the ball bounced off his hands giving Miller another chance then, boom. The audience exploded in cheers, 1-0 CNMI.

Maluweng was sprawling on the ground when he watched the ball hitting the net.

NMI goalie Chris Nelson did excellent defense. In the 40th minute, the ever aggressive Cunliffe nearly hurt him when he grabbed the ball on its way into the box. They stood and held chests up against each other. This earned Cunliffe a yellow card.

Swaim proved himself right about Cunliffe.

With 15 minutes left in the ball game, Cunliffe was a few yards off the goal when he got the ball. His one kick to the right corner of the goal led the Guam Team to jubilate.

Both teams stood their ground in the remaining minutes that ran out with the score, still 1-1.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Guam 1, NMI 1

While most of the world focuses on the best international teams in football during this year's World Cup, on the tiny island of Saipan in the Western Pacific, 195th ranked Guam challenged unranked Northern Mariana Islands (NMI) in the fourth annual Marianas Cup.

NMI scored in the middle of the second half and led heading into the final minutes, but Guam was able to even the score in the 89th minute.

Team heartthrob, Brad Ruszala, had this to say of today's game, "Guam sucks!"

This was the fifth meeting in four years for the two squads. The teams met twice in 2007; they drew a 2-2 tie on Saipan, but a week later Guam slaughtered NMI 9-0 in Guam. The next year Guam bested NMI 3-2 in Saipan and last year Guam defeated NMI 2-1 in Guam.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pickup Games

There are pickup games played every Tuesday and Friday at Navy Hill at 5:00 PM.