Exhausted women’s soccer squad finally arrives in Ramallah

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Tue, May 21, 2013 - Page 18

Taiwan women’s soccer squad arrived in Ramallah, Palestinian Territories, on Sunday afternoon after a grueling trip and headed straight to their hotel.

After a quick meal and then rest, they had their first practice session for their three Asian Cup and women’s World Cup qualifiers in the evening.

The squad departed Taiwan on Saturday afternoon, flew to Hong Kong and then on to Jordan, where they took a bus to their destination

The bus crossed into Israel before entering the West Bank, a journey that took a total of 27 hours, including several border and security checks.

Taiwan face hosts Palestine in the opening game today, India on Thursday and Myanmar on Saturday. Only the group winners advance to next round.

Managed by head coach Yen Shih-kai, the women’s national team is led by star midfielder Tseng Shu-o, a member of the national squad since 2002.

Tseng plays in France’s women’s Ligue 1 for AS Saint-Etienne. She has previously played for professional teams in Australia, Canada and the US.

“Tseng has wealth of experience and is now playing with a top European team, so we hope she can spearhead the attack,” Yen said. “We have made improvements through warm-up games, patching up our weaknesses, such as dealing with counterattacks and solidifying the defense against through balls.”

Taiwan face the host nation and their passionate fans in the opening game today at the 12,500-capacity Faisal al-Husseini Stadium in Al-Ram.

Al-Ram is a town close to the border with Israel, situated between Jerusalem and Ramallah, the administrative capital of the West Bank.

The opener is also noteworthy as it will be only the fourth international played by a Palestine national team at their home stadium.

“Palestine have not had many international games up to now. We tried to get information, scouting reports on them through all kinds of channels, but we could not. So we are not familiar with the Palestine team. We will not ignore this ‘unfamiliarity factor’ as we head into the game,” Yen said.