Despite playing in front of a boisterous 8,800-strong home crowd yesterday, Taiwan have yet to win an East Asian Cup qualifier, losing to Hong Kong after conceding a controversial second-half penalty at the Taipei Municipal Stadium last night.
The contentious penalty was awarded in the 52nd minute as a pass came in and Taiwan goalkeeper Chiu Yu-hung was judged to have upended Hong Kong forward Jaimes McKee at the edge of the box. Taiwan players protested the referee’s decision, saying Chiu had gotten to the ball first to make the clearance. However, the call stood and Hong Kong midfielder Lam Kai-wai calmly slotted the ball into the net.
Still, Taiwan did not give up and went on the attack searching for an equalizer, but could not breach the Hong Kong defense. They had several good opportunities in the closing stages of the game, including when midfielder Wen Chih-hao ripped a low drive just outside the box, but his shot went agonizingly wide.
Photo courtesy of the CTFA
In the 86th minute, striker Onur Dogan found the net after a scramble in front of the goal, setting of celebrations among Taiwan players and fans, but the sound of the referee’s whistle canceled the equalizer after the ball was judged to have gone out of bounds right before Dogan (also known as Chu En-le) received it.
During three minutes of extra-time, Taiwan again came close to leveling the score, but midfielder Chao Hao-wei drilled his shot just wide of the goal.
When the final whistle blew, Taiwan coach Chen Kuei-jen rushed onto the pitch, vigorously protesting the penalty kick awarded to Hong Kong. A visibly furious Chen Kuei-jen stayed on the pitch for about five minutes — at times reduced to tears of rage — but eventually joined the players to thank the fans for their support.
“It was a very disappointing defeat. Our goalkeeper had gotten to the ball cleanly, then the Hong Kong player spilled on top of him. We have difficulty accepting the penalty ... but in the end we have to respect the referee’s decision,” the coach said.
In the first half, Taiwan took the game to the visitors with sustained forays against Hong Kong’s defense.
As early as the sixth minute, the hosts had a good chance to open their account when midfielder Chen Hao-wei’s cross from the right found Dogan inside the area, but the Turkish-Taiwanese striker could not get a clean shot.
In the 17th, Taiwan midfielding dynamo Chen Po-liang found an opening in Hong Kong’s defense and blasted a long-range shot that forced goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai to spring into a save.
Chen Po-liang’s attacking flair took him into the box in the 35th and he faked out two defenders to get tantalizingly close until a backtracking Hong Kong player took the ball from him with a sliding tackle.
Hong Kong’s best chance came in the 42nd minute, when a pass found McKee in the box, but his shot was blocked cleanly by Chiu.
In yesterday’s early match, a strong North Korea trounced Guam 5-1 to pick up their second win in as many games, with Jong Il-gwan and Ri Sang-chol netting two goals each to help their team to a well-deserved victory.
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