Wed, Dec 05, 2001 - Page 16 News List

Women's football coming home to Asia

ON THE BALL High-scoring games were the order of the day yesterday, with Taiwan overwhelming Malaysia 14-0 in its opener. North Korea and Japan also won big

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's Chen Ya-ling, top, beats her opponent to the ball yesterday evening. Taiwan handed out a 14-0 drubbing of Malaysia in its opening game of the biannual Asian Women's Football Championship. All first-round matches will be played at either Chungshan Stadium or the Taipei Municipal Stadium and entrance is free.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese Taipei's Olympic flag flew high at Taipei's Chungshan Soccer Stadium yesterday as the 14th Asian Women's Football Championship got off to a noisy start.

Unlike the recent Baseball World Cup, however, the terraces weren't awash with Taiwan's national colors.

Officials had earlier appealed to fans not to fly the red, white and blue colors of Taiwan and refrain from chanting "Taiwan," so as to avoid turning the event into a political spectacle rather than a sporting event.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)opened the championship with a few words of encouragement to the teams' fans, many of whom were still wearing their school uniforms.

Happy hosts

"We're happy to be hosting the 14th AFC Championship and hope that both the players and fans will enjoy the sporting event with as much passion as the Baseball World Cup was enjoyed," the president said.

But it was Huang Shih-cheng (黃石城), president of the Chinese Taipei Soccer Association, who summed up the evening's mood when he rallied the home crowd with memories of Taiwan's prestigious footballing past.

"Football has come home," Huang said, recalling the nation's football glory days of the 1970s and 1980s.

"[Taiwan] was one of the first countries to play football in Asia and it's fantastic that we are once again able to play host to an international football competition."

The lack of the national color and the cold breeze that whipped through the stadium didn't mute the rowdy reception the home fans gave their team when it took to the field minutes before its opening match against Malaysia.

Looking to repeat -- if not surpass -- the behemoth 16-0 drubbing it gave Malaysia in the 1999 AFC Championship, Taiwan got off the blistering start.

Taiwan should have capitalized on a string of Malaysian midfield blunders within the opening five minutes.

Malaysia's luck ran out in the 14th minute when Lin Chi-i (林綺苡) capitalized on a defensive blunder and hammered the ball home from close range.

While Taiwan heaped on the pressure the suspect Malaysian defense rallied to try and keep the white shirts of Taiwan at bay.

The complexion of the game changed, however, when the referee red carded a Malaysian defender in the 25th minute after a midair collision in the Malaysian box.

With the visitors reduced to ten women, Taiwan's Lin calmly stepped up to the spot and blasted home.

Before the visitors had time to digest the second goal, Taiwan's unmarked Chen Ya-ling (陳雅玲)capitalized on a defensive gaff and slid the into an unguarded goal to made it three.

Five minutes later it was the turn of Huang Chun-lan (黃春蘭) to hammer home a fourth and the rout was on.

With the Malaysian defense full of more holes than a slab of Swiss cheese, Chang Hui-ching (張卉靜)made no mistake and found herself on the score sheet twice within a matter of minutes.

By the time the referee blew the halftime whistle, Taiwan was leading by six unanswered goals.

Humiliation

Taiwan began the second half at a much slower pace.

Even without the need for excess pressure, Taiwan's strikers found themselves within meters of the Malaysian goalmouth within the opening minutes.

In the 66th minute Lin Chi-i dribbled her way into the area, making mincemeat of the defense on her way and tapped home her third.

A minute later Taiwan's forward line humiliated the visitors once again and Huang Chun-lan headed home the home team's eighth.

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