Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Taiwan restore pride with N Korea draw

By Dominic Wallace  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan players and staff cheer at the Taipei Municipal Stadium after the hosts drew with North Korea in their 2015 East Asian Cup qualifier yesterday.

Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times

Taiwan last night registered a 0-0 draw against North Korea after a hardfought encounter at the Taipei Municipal Stadium that provided more entertainment than the scoreline might suggest.

Taiwan’s chances of qualifying for the last available spot in the 2015 East Asian Cup evaporated on Sunday after they lost their second consecutive game, so they were left playing only for pride against the standout team of the group. North Korea came into the game unbeaten and on the back of thrashing Guam 5-1 three days earlier.

Despite North Korea dominating possession early on, there was little between the teams until the 18th minute, when Taiwan goalkeeper Chiu Yu-hung pulled off an acrobatic save to tip over a powerful header from just inside the area.

The visitors had the ball in the net just before halftime by way of striker Jin Hyok-ri’s well-weighted lob from all of 25m, but luckily for the hosts, the goal was ruled offside.

Immediately following the restart, a lucky deflection left North Korea striker Chol Min-rim with an open goal, but he somehow fired over the bar from close range.

One minute later, midfielder Il Gwan-jong stuck out an outsretched boot to loop the ball over Taiwan goalkeeper Chiu from the edge of the box, but again North Korea were denied by the linesman’s flag.

Having had to chase possession for much of the match, the hosts began to tire, allowing their rivals to attack in numbers. However, having ridden wave after wave of attack — backed by a ferociously vocal crowd — the home side rallied and might even have gone on to snatch victory in the late stages.

Taiwan might feel somewhat unfortunate to have lost their first two games, but are likely to be boosted by recording a respectable draw against quality opponents, who were widely expected to put several goals past the hosts.

Taiwan’s women’s team showed more promise, making it to what was effectively the final of the qualifying round on Tuesday.

Yet despite a valiant effort, they were ultimately beaten 2-0 by a strong South Korea, who knocked up a tally of 26 goals without conceding in their three group games.

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