The national women’s soccer team began their qualifying round for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup on Monday with a 4-0 victory over Laos in Bahrain.
The victory lifted Taiwan to the top of Group A, and if they manage to beat hosts Bahrain on Sunday, they would qualify for the Women’s Asian Cup from Jan. 20 to Feb. 6 next year.
Ranked 40th in the world and eighth in Asia, Taiwan are the favorites in their group, ahead of 85th-ranked Bahrain. Laos are making their first appearance in the qualifiers.
However, Taiwan have not qualified for the Asian Cup since 2008.
Ten of the 12 berths for the Women’s Asian Cup have been secured by hosts India, Australia, China, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Only the qualifying teams from Group A and Group D have yet to be decided.
On Monday, Taiwan took care of business as expected, with forward Chen Yen-ping opening the scoring with 19 minutes on the clock.
They were unapologetic about maintaining possession in Laos’ half of the field, taking every opportunity to wear down their opponents’ defense. The pressure eventually paid off when forward Su Yu-hsuan added to Taiwan’s lead in the 32nd minute.
Forward Lai Li-chin, a veteran from Taiwan’s successful 2008 qualifying campaign, sealed the deal with two goals in the second half, converting a pass to score her team’s third goal 55 minutes into the game and booting in a loose ball at the hour mark.
Taiwan head coach Kazuo Echigo said that although his team won, they did not meet all of the goals he had set them, and adjustments would have to be made.
Acknowledging that the next match against Bahrain would be critical, Echigo said that he would make use of the time before then to come up with a strategy and train his players accordingly.
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