Taiwan manager Kazuo Kuroda is confident of a good result in tomorrow’s Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifier against Central Asian foe Turkmenistan, saying that he can count on the leadership and extra firepower of four overseas-based stars who have joined the team in recent days.
Kuroda told a pre-game news conference yesterday that the squad’s strength and depth had been bolstered by the return of captain Chen Po-liang, center-forward Wen Chih-hao, midfield dynamo Chen Hao-wei and striker Onur Dogan, who is a naturalized citizen through his marriage to a Taiwanese wife.
“At first, I was worried about their form, as they joined the squad only a few days ago, but after yesterday’s [Friday’s] practice session, I saw the four of them are in good physical condition,” Kuroda said.
“Although they might not be familiar with the current national squad’s playing style and tactics, they have pride to represent the nation,” he said. “I am sure they will give their best effort and adapt to the team.”
The four arrived in Taiwan this week from clubs in the China League One second-division competition, Chen Po-liang from Hangzhou Greentown, Wen and Chen Hao-wei from BG Beijing and Dogan from Meizhou Hakka.
Kuroda and most of the squad had just returned from Vietnam after a friendly on Wednesday, a tough battle that ended in a 1-1 draw in Hanoi.
Turkmenistan manager Amangylych Kochumov said he believes his team is well-prepared for the Taiwan clash.
He said it is important to get a win for the opening match of qualifying round.
“We have studied some of Taiwan’s games on video and we know there are a few fast attacking players who are good on the counterattack, but we will be able to stop them,” Kochumov said.
One young Turkmenistan star to watch is striker Ruslan Mingazov, who plays for European side SK Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic.
“Our team is not worried about the rainy weather and the wet conditions of the pitch,” Mingazov said.
“We have trained in China and so our team are used to this kind of weather,” he said.
“Once the match gets started, we will focus on the play and our game plan and will not pay any attention to the weather,” he said.
The match is to start at 6pm at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.
Taiwan and Turkmenistan are in Group E alongside Bahrain and Singapore.
Taiwan are to play Singapore on June 13, Bahrain on Sept. 5 and Oct. 10, Turkmenistan in the return match on Nov. 14 and Singapore on March 27 next year.
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