Japanese club Tokyo City FC will face Northern Mariana Islands in a friendly, the club announced on Friday.
The amateur side, who play in the Tokyo Prefecture Fourth Division (the ninth step of the Japanese football pyramid), will face the East Asian Football Federation members on March 15 in Saipan’s Oleai Sports Complex.
Northern Mariana Islands are an associate member of the Asian Football Confederation and are not yet recognized by FIFA.
Coach Kiyoshi Sekiguchi welcomed the match as a chance to foster ties between the small island nation, who played their first international match in 1999, and Japan.
“Our mission is to improve the team’s strength, but the level of football in Saipan is still low and our FA lacks the budget to travel overseas,” Sekiguchi commented in the announcement. “A Japanese team coming to play a match is a unique opportunity for us to test ourselves.
“I’m incredibly happy for this chance to deepen relations between Japan and Saipan.”
Kazuki Yamauchi, a striker for Tokyo City as well as the team representative, also expressed his anticipation for the match-up.
“I’m truly happy that our relationship with Mr. Sekiguchi has led to this international fixture,” Yamauchi wrote on the team website.
“We hope this match inspires other teams to visit Saipan and contribute to cultural exchange through football.”