Wed, Mar 11, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Taiwan eyeing rare World Cup victory

TRULY INTERNATIONAL:With coach Chen Kuei-jen selecting eight players based overseas, local media are saying the Taiwan squad is the best ever assembled

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan’s Xavier Chen acknowledges the team’s supporters after Taiwan defeated Malaysia 3-2 in the second leg of their FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Taipei Municipal Stadium on July 3, 2011.

Photo: Hsia Wei-yeh, Facebook

Taiwan are seeking a valuable victory when they host Brunei tomorrow in Kaohsiung, part of the first-round encounters in Asian qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Local soccer fans are expecting a good performance and maybe something to cheer about for a change, because although Taiwan are in the nether regions of the FIFA world rankings in 184th place, Brunei are even lower at 198th.

However, Taiwan must not take the opposition lightly, as Brunei are coached by former Blackburn Rovers manager Steve Kean.

Going all-out for the victory in front of the side’s home supporters, Taiwan coach Chen Kuei-jen has selected eight players based in overseas leagues, the most “international” national squad ever assembled.

Fans and netizens are buoyant at the prospect for a rare international victory, which would do wonders for the downtrodden state of soccer in this country. Supporters and local media are labeling it the best Taiwan lineup ever, citing the players with experience in overseas professional leagues.

Chen said he wanted to choose his strongest lineup to go all-out for the victory and to progress as far as possible in the qualifying rounds so that Taiwanese fans would be able to enjoy more international soccer in the coming months.

“We hope there will be a big crowd cheering us on [at the National Stadium] in Kaohsiung, which is a certified ground for international games. The players need the passionate support of the home fans, which will give us a better chance of advancing to the next round,” Chen said.

Announcing his starting lineup on Monday, the head coach picked popular former KV Mechelen fullback Xavier Chen and midfield dynamo Chen Po-liang.

Both are currently playing in the Chinese Super League, with Belgium-born Xavier Chen a regular starter at Guizhou Renhe and Chen Po-liang at Hangzhou Greentown.

Xavier Chen echoed the same message as the manager on his social network page.

“Come out to cheer for us at the game on March 12. I shall see you all in Kaohsiung,” he wrote.

Other China-based players in the squad of 23 are Ko Yu-ting of Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai, while Wen Chih-hao of Beijing Enterprises Group, Chen Wei-chuan, Wu Chun-ching and Chen Chao-an of Hunan Xiangtou, and Chen Hao-wei of Beijing Institute of Technology are all plying their trade in the Chinese second division.

The two other overseas-based players in the squad are naturalized Taiwanese by marriage Onur Dogan (also known as Chu En-le), who was born in Turkey, and Spain-based Yaki Yan, born to a Spanish mother and a Taiwanese father, who is a defender for Spanish third-tier side Deportivo El Cotillo on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura.

The return leg of the first-round qualifier is on Tuesday next week when Taiwan travel to Brunei’s capital, Bandar Seri Begawan, with the match due to take place at the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium.

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