Taiwan yesterday suffered a 2-1 defeat to Jordan on a rain-soaked pitch at the Taipei Municipal Stadium in the first match of Group B Asian qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Head coach Louis Lancaster started a trio of strikers — Chen Jui-chieh, Chen Hao-wei and naturalized citizen Onur Dogan — in a more aggressive lineup in search of victory in front of local fans.
Jordan, coached by Belgian Vital Borkelmans, hit their stride early with good passing and individual skills to create chances, keeping Taiwan goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh busy.
Taiwan fell behind in the 19th minute when attacking midfielder Mousa Suleiman blasted a shot from just inside the 18-yard box, which Pan parried and the ball bounced off the post. As Pan reached for the rebound, Jordan striker Baha Faisal slotted home for the visitors to take a 1-0 lead.
During the scramble, Faisal had run into Pan, who laid on the ground apparently injured. Lancaster and Taiwan’s players called for the officials to nullify the goal due to illegal contact, but it was upheld.
As Taiwan increased their forays into Jordan’s area, they were also left prone to marauding counterattacks by the visitors, who found space and went deep into the hosts’ final third.
In the 37th minute, Pan blocked a shot by Faisal, but Ahmad Sameer collected the rebound and smashed home from the edge of the box for Jordan’s second goal.
After the intermission, Lancaster elected to bolster the offense behind the forward line, putting in attacking midfielder Will Donkin.
The English-Taiwanese teenager had an immediate effect with a slick run on the left side, taking the ball past two defenders before he hit a cross into the box, but could not connect with his teammates.
Pan kept Taiwan in the game, fending off close-range shots from Jordan’s forwards, including several tips over the bar to the applause of the home fans.
Taiwan’s offense were finally rewarded for their efforts in the 80th minute, when captain Chen Po-liang made a run into the left side of the 18-yard box and squared a pass to attacking midfielder Wen Chih-hao just inside the box.
Wen fired a shot past Jordan’s back line and goalkeeper Amir Shafi to open Taiwan’s account and cut the lead to 2-1.
However, Taiwan were unable to find a second goal.
Following the match, Borkelmans said that his side had played well, but could have scored more goals.
He also praised Pan for making several amazing saves, which he said kept Taiwan in the game.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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