Taiwan fall to 5-0 loss to Bahrain in Asian Cup qualifier - Taipei Times
Thu, Sep 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Taiwan fall to 5-0 loss to Bahrain in Asian Cup qualifier

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan were on Tuesday soundly defeated 5-0 by hosts Bahrain in their Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup qualifier, putting the pressure on Taiwan to win in the home-leg match in Taipei on Oct. 10.

The national squad faced several obstacles, including Japanese manager Kazuo Kuroda recuperating from a heart ailment, leaving assistant Reiji Hirata in charge.

Taiwanese-Belgian professional Xavier Chen was also absent, as he stayed in Belgium with his wife, who just gave birth to the couple’s first child.

After the squad’s arrival in Bahrain on Saturday for training, captain Chen Yi-wei came down with the flu and was declared unfit to play.

However, Taiwanese fans still held hope for at least a draw to earn a point for the match, which was played at the Bahrain National Stadium in Riffa, the country’s second-largest city.

Hirata replaced Chen with reserve Lee Pin-hsien and laid out a defense-focused 5-4-1 formation, with Onur Dogan — a Turkish-born naturalized citizen of the Republic of China — the lone striker.

Hirata sought to stifle Bahrain’s attacking line by packing the back line with five men anchored by Lee and crowding the middle with four midfielders.

However, his plan backfired badly, as his players could not cope with the 35°C heat and plodded about passively, while the hosts seemed energized.

Starting Lee as the central defender proved to be a fatal mistake, as he was slow and often ended up a bemused bystander to Bahrain’s goals.

Just inside 11 minutes, Komail al-Aswad bounced a shot off Lee to open the account and Jaafar Madan doubled the lead just before halftime, firing a shot past Taiwan goalkeeper Chiu Yu-hung.

Things continued downhill in the second half, with the hosts easily defeating Taiwan’s porous defense. Striker Mahdi Abdul-Jabbar scored a brace and substitute Yusuf Helal netted one.

Taiwan are in third place in Group E on three points from three matches, just one point ahead of Singapore, who drew 1-1 against Turkmenistan in the day’s other match.

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