The nation’s men’s soccer team is scheduled to compete in the East Asian Games in Tianjin, China, this year, the Sports Administration said this week.
The announcement was made on Wednesday at the flag-presentation ceremony for the nation’s women’s soccer team, who are set to compete in the qualifiers for the Women’s Asia Cup next year.
Sports Administration deputy director-general Peng Tai-ling said that both the women’s and men’s soccer teams are to compete in Tianjin in October.
Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) secretary-general Wang Sheau-shiun was encouraged by the news, saying that the Games would provide an ideal opportunity for the men’s team to hone their skills and give them a concrete goal to strive for.
“How can anyone expect the nation’s men’s soccer team to improve if they never have the experience of a high-intensity international game?” Wang said.
“We rarely get a chance to take on Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong, so we absolutely cannot just give up on it,” he added.
The nation’s under-22 men’s team played in Asian Cup qualifiers last year, during which players Wen Chi-hao, Chiu Yu-hong and Lin Chang-luen had shown great potential.
The team’s coach Chen Chun-ming said players cannot improve if their skills are not constantly put to the test in international games.
Both players and coaches would lack short-term goals if they were not able to go to any international competitions this year, he added.
Chen also said that training was not enough, and a lack of competitive opportunities would risk wasting players’ potential.
Wang said that he would call up Weng and other players who helped defeat Vietnam in an Asian Cup qualifier last year for the East Asian Games.
Taiwan’s men’s soccer team are currently ranked 176th in the world.
The team’s highest ranking was 150th in 2003.
The nation’s women’s team are ranked 41st. Their highest ranking was also achieved in 2003, when they reached 23rd place in the world.