Tim Chow, an English professional soccer player of Taiwanese descent, arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday and is to join the national team squad for their Asian Cup qualifier in Turkmenistan on Tuesday next week after last-minute issues were resolved.
Speaking to reporters following his arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday afternoon, Chow said he was excited about joining the Taiwan squad.
“It’s been a bit of whirlwind the past week and I’m really excited to be back here to get my residency permit,” Chow said.
The 23-year-old Chow obtained a Republic of China (ROC) passport in London on Monday last week.
Chow went straight to the National Immigration Agency later on Tuesday to apply for a residency permit to ensure the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) recognizes his eligibility to play for the nation.
He flew to Qatar yesterday to join the national squad, which has been training in Doha since Thursday last week.
The team heads to Turkmenistan on a charter flight on Sunday.
His day-long trip was Chow’s second visit to Taiwan. He visited in late May to familiarize himself with the nation of his grandfather.
The player’s arrival ended a week of uncertainty over whether he would be eligible to represent the national soccer team in the match against Turkmenistan, a qualifier for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
IN THE PAST
A law firm representing the player issued a statement on Thursday last week that said Chow would not be able to play because of unresolved issues with the Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA).
After a week of negotiations, the CTFA on Tuesday said that all outstanding issues had been resolved.
Asked to comment on the controversies, Chow said: “What happened in the past is in the past.”
He said he wants to focus on making the best of the next few days to fit in with the national squad.
Although Chow has never played with the national team, he said he has seen highlights of their matches and is confident he would be able to fit in with the team’s playing style.
“I will do my best to help the team, however I can,” he said.
Pursuing ROC citizenship has been a long and winding road for Chow.
Born in Wigan, England, Chow said his grandfather was born in China and lived in Shanghai before moving to Taiwan after World War II. He emigrated to England in 1956.
That made Chow eligible to obtain ROC citizenship.
The CTFA first contacted Chow four years ago, hoping to recruit the midfielder, who plays for Scottish Premiership club Ross County, to boost the competitiveness of the nation team.
Taiwan are third in their Asian Cup qualifying group, one point behind Bahrain and Turkmenistan, with two games left to play.
A loss in Turkmenistan next week would likely knock the team out of contention for qualification for the 2019 tournament in the United Arab Emirates, but a win or a draw would boost their chances of qualification with only a match against Singapore, the group’s last-placed team, remaining.
Taiwan have not qualified for an Asian Cup final since 1968, when they finished fourth in a five-team tournament.
In related news, in the AFC U-19 championship qualification yesterday, Taiwan defeated Macau 2-0 at Hsinchu County Stadium, with goals from captain Tu Shao-chieh and striker Wang Chung-yu.
The win secured six points and second place for the hosts in Group H, with a good possibility they will advance to group runners-up.
Vietnam topped the group by trouncing Laos 4-0. Vietnam had a perfect run with three victories in three matches for all nine points to advance as group winner.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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