First game: 8:0 against Yap
Biggest win: 13:0 against Pohnpei
Biggest defeat: 0:9 against Guam
Most famous player: Chris Guerrero
Status: was associated OFC-member. Associated member of AFC and full member of EAFF (East Asian Football Federation)
Stadium: Oleai Sports Complex
Other facts: The CNMI (Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands) made it´s debut in 1998 during the Micronesia games in Palau when they they reached a great second place behind neighbors Guam. One year later in the Micronesian Games on the island of Yap they also competed. This time it wasn´t this successful when they took a trashing against the host team of the Federated States of Micronesia. In the end the CNMI became third of three teams right behind a team of foreigners based on Yap. Afther this tournament football slowly faded away from the commonwealth in union with the United States until a local football enthusiast named Jerry Tan took matters in his own hands. With hard work he revived and rebuild the football association. He even said he founded the FA because there was no organised football before. Quickly he established youth clinics to bring the local youth in contact with the world sport. In 2007 there even was the first official game of the Blue Ayuyus (nickname of the selection) since eight years against Guam. This led to an annual tournament called "The Marianas Cup". The Marianas are the group of islands which both territories in the northern Pacific belong to. Thanks to the effort of Jerry Tan and the Guam Football Association the CNMI became very quick a full-member of the East Asian Football Federation. They even competed in the preliminary competition for the East Asian Cup two times. They didn´t manage to get a draw this far, but the evolution of football is astonishing. The number of footballers increased very fast but to threaten the most popular sports on the islands Baseball and Basketball it will take more years and work.
In the last couple of years the Northern Marianas getting more active. They competed in three qualification rounds for the East Asian Football Federation Cup, losing all their games to either southern rivals Guam or Macau and Mongolia. In 2013 they will take another step into international football by competing at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualification. They will travel to Nepal, where they face the host, Bangladesh and favourites Palestine. It is unlikely that they will managae to grab a point but at the end beeing in that tournament is already a big win for them. The next topic on the agenda of the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association is to gain full-membership of AFC which is just possible by gaining FIFA membership as well. That target is planned to be achieved in 2013. The question will be if FIFA let the island chain into their world governing body since the Commenwealth is not an independent nation recognised by the United Nations which aleady proved to be a major obstacle for other FAs lioke Greenland, Gibraltar or Kosovo.
Did you know?
Saipan was the location of the second "football war" (first was between El Salvador and Honduras which started durind qualifying match for the World Cup between both sides and which led to a real war). Fortunately this time the "war" was not fought with real weapons but it made the CNMI famous in Ireland because of "The war of Saipan". It all started when the Irish football team chose Saipan as as workout location prior the World Cup 2002 in Japan and the Republic of Korea. But Roy Keane, at this time playing for Manchester United and captain of the Irish football team, was not amused about the condition of the Oleai Sports Complex. So the top-star of the team was not afraid to tell the journalists that the preperation was not good enough to be competetive during the tournament which backfired from Ireland an now was a national affair. In the end the coach of Ireland Mick McCarthy suspended Keane. In the end Ireland achieved the knock-out stage where they lost to Spain.
Northern Mariana Invitational Championship
2005 - cancelled
2006/07 - L&S/Kyung-Seung
2007 - Fiesta Inter Saipan
2008 (Spring) - Inter Godfather's
2008 (Fall) - Inter Godfather's
2009 - Inter Godfather's
2010 - Marianas Pacific United
2011 (Fall) - Inter Godfather´s
M*League Division 1
2012 (Spring) - IFC Wildbills
2012 (Fall) - Tan Holdings FC