Island derby returns with 2024 Marianas Friendlies in Saipan

Island derby returns with 2024 Marianas Friendlies in Saipan

[April 5, 2024 – Harmon, Guam] The island derby returns this weekend with the 2024 Marianas Friendlies men’s and women’s football competitions set to kick off Saturday at the Northern Mariana Islands Training Center in Koblerville, Saipan.

Guam’s delegation of 40 players and seven staff departed Guam early Friday morning ahead of the matches beginning with the men’s competition opening match at 5 p.m. Saturday, followed by the women’s competition opening match at 8 p.m. The teams play again Sunday, with the women’s competition kicking off at 5 p.m. followed by the men’s competition at 8 p.m.

football player kicking ball


“The team is really excited for another opportunity to represent Guam against NMI,” said E.J. Manibusan, called up for the Guam men’s team. “We’re focused on getting a result because we weren’t able to win last time. I think the derby games between Guam and Saipan are passionate, so it’s really important to win.

“Playing in these matches is a great privilege and the team, regardless of our age, has the opportunity to go win and give 100 percent – that’s all that matters,” Manibusan added.

Manibusan joins 19 other players called up for Guam to play in the men’s competition: goalkeepers Josiah Jones and Jacob Toves and field players Jace Almandres, Levi Buckwalter, Nicolas Chargualaf, Micah Elwell, Nathaniel Graves, Sean Halehale, Curtis Harmon, Takayuki Kobayashi, Donovan Moss, Malcom Ogo, Beau Perez, Jadyel Rink, C.J. Sablan, Andrew Stenson, Samuel Stenson, Shuntaro Suzuki, and Gatbo Topasna.

The women’s team also shares the same feeling for the weekend’s matches.

Female football player dribbling ball

A. Cruz

“The team is really excited heading into the matches – we’re all in good spirits and look forward to competing,” said Ariya Cruz, called up to the Guam women’s team. “Saipan’s teams have always been great opponents. The rivalry between both of our teams has always been strong, as we all know what it is like to represent our islands. It is always a pleasure having these consistent competitions with them.”

Joining Cruz on the Guam women’s team roster are goalkeepers Ha’ani Byerly and Kiarra Hutcherson and field players Sarah Benavente, Marlena Connelley, Hannah Cruz, Giselle Dahilig, Kalle Damian, Erlissa Delfin, Maya Iriarte, Anna Jones, Yae Kawauchi, Monica Marquez, Analea Meno, Anjelica Perez, Loyola Phillip, Richelle Ragadio, Sophia San Agustin, Dolores San Gil, and India Sheppard.

The seven staff traveling with the players are Ross Awa, Head Coach of the men’s team, Jeroen Bos, Goalkeeper Coach of the men’s team, Kristin Thompson, Head Coach of the women’s team, Chima Mbakwem, Goalkeeper Coach of the women’s team, Michael Milner, Assistant Coach, Sheena Newell, Team Manager, and Walfred Javier, Team Physiotherapist.