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British soccer player of Taiwanese descent to join national team

2017/10/31 16:00:13

Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) Tim Chow (周定洋), an English professional soccer player of Taiwanese descent, was granted a Republic of China (Taiwan) passport Monday and may soon be ready to join Taiwan's national team.

The 23-year-old Chow was granted the passport on Oct. 30 (London time), according to Taiwan's representative office in the United Kingdom.

He will be eligible to join Taiwan's team for an upcoming 2019 Asian Cup qualifier once the Asian Football Confederation approves an application by Taiwan's Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) to put him on its roster for the Nov. 14 match in Turkmenistan.

During a phone interview with CNA, Chow, a midfielder for Scottish Premiership club Ross County, said he looked forward to joining the national team and described it as a decision that was supported by his family as well.

Born in the U.K., Chow said his grandfather was born in China when it was known as the Republic of China and lived in Shanghai before moving to Taiwan after World War II. He then lived in Taiwan until emigrating to Britain in 1956.

Chow's bloodline makes him eligible to obtain ROC citizenship in accordance with Taiwanese laws.

Seeing his potential, the CTFA first established contact with him about four years ago, hoping to recruit him to boost the competitiveness of Taiwan's nation team, which has languished among the also-rans of Asian soccer.

He visited Taiwan for the first time this summer.

Pursuing ROC citizenship has been a long and winding road, Chow told CNA, because his grandfather passed away many years ago.

Chow said he had to ask his grandfather's relatives in China to obtain his grandfather's birth certificate, and he also had to secure his own birth certificate and that of his father along with other required documents before his application was approved by the Ministry of the Interior.

Chow gave special thanks to Foreign Minister David Lee (李大維), Interior Minister Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書) and National Sports Development Commission deputy convener Yu Cheng-hsien (余政憲) for their efforts in helping him get Taiwanese citizenship.

He also telephoned Gary White, the British head coach of Taiwan's national soccer team, to let him know of his decision to join the team, and said the coach fully supported it.

Chow was extremely excited when he talked about the team's recent 2-1 victory over Bahrain in Taipei on Oct. 10 in a qualifier for the 2019 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup, one of Taiwan's biggest soccer wins in recent memory.

Down 1-0 with time running out in the second half, Taiwan tied the game at the 90-minute mark on a goal by Chen Po-liang (陳柏良) and won it on a goal in injury time by Chu En-le (朱恩樂), keeping the team's hopes alive to qualify for the Asian Cup from Group E.

Taiwan is currently ranked third in the qualifying group, one point behind Bahrain and Turkmenistan with two games left.

A loss in Turkmenistan on Nov. 14 would likely knock it out of contention for one of the group's top two spots and qualification for the 2019 tournament.

But a win or a draw would boost its hopes with only a match at home against Singapore, the group's last-place team, left on the schedule.

Taiwan has not made an Asian Cup final round since 1968, when it finished fourth in a five-team tournament. The main draw has been opened to 24 teams this year, after being limited to 12 in 1996 and 2000 and 16 in 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

Chow, who looks forward to the challenge of trying to get Taiwan into the final round of the tournament, said it was a memorable day when he was granted the ROC passport.

"It is very important for me to pass down the family tradition, and I believe my grandfather will be happy to see that happen," he said.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Joseph Yeh)