A team made up mostly of Guatemalans who live and work in Taiwan were on Sunday crowned winners of the women’s Copa America Taiwan soccer tournament after defeating a Paraguayan team in the final in New Taipei City.
Guatemala defeated Paraguay 3-1 in a final that kept hundreds of spectators on the edge of their seats at Fu Jen Catholic University Stadium.
The two teams attacked at will early in the match as both looked to take an early lead, but it was Paraguay who went in front after a cleverly worked free-kick was headed into the net.
In the second half, Guatemala stepped up the pace as they looked to level the score and finally converted their own free-kick.
Paraguay peppered the Guatemala goal with shots, but then ran out of steam and Guatemala scored their second goal from another set-piece, before a cross into the penalty area was met with an unstoppable shot from close range to make it 3-1.
The strength of Guatemala’s attacks put Paraguay on the defensive, making it hard for them to counterattack for large parts of the second half.
The turnaround was the product of luck, technique and teamwork, Guatemala defender Stephanie said.
“In football, you never know what can happen. Football is very unpredictable and things can change in a heartbeat,” she told the Central News Agency.
Communication was also another key element that helped the team win the game, Guatemala defender Cristina said.
Guatemala goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez said that her team had the edge because Paraguay did not play as a cohesive unit.
“I think there were one or two girls that were really strong, but they didn’t play as a unified body. So even though there were opportunities, they were just trying to score a goal for the sake of scoring a goal and didn’t display much teamwork,” Sanchez said.
Guatemalan Ambassador to Taiwan Willy Alberto Gomez Tirado praised the team and said there would be a celebration to mark the victory.
“We are very proud of that,” he said. “We are planning some celebrations for this [coming] week and we are doing some arrangements, but we are going to celebrate for sure.”
In the final of the men’s competition, the UK clinched the title after defeating France in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
The UK and France battled to a 0-0 draw and the resulting penalty shoot-out saw the UK shade France 4-3.
It was the first time a UK team had competed in the Copa America Taiwan, UK captain Alex Willett said.
“The team spirit is just amazing, everybody’s working hard for each other. Just hard work and determination,” he said.
More than 3,000 people attended the two-day tournament, which kicked off on Saturday with 23 teams, and the support of several embassies and representative offices.
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