Guatemalan team takes women's title at Copa America Taiwan

10/19/2020 11:57 AM
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Guatemalan Ambassador to Taiwan Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado (fifth right) with the Guatemala women
Guatemalan Ambassador to Taiwan Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado (fifth right) with the Guatemala women's team that were crowned winners the 2020 Copa America Taiwan football tournament. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020

New Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) A team made up mostly of Guatemalans who live and work in Taiwan were crowned winners of the women's event at an annual football tournament that featured Latin American and Taiwanese teams, among others, after defeating a Paraguayan team in the final on Sunday.

The Guatemalan team defeated a Paraguayan team 3-1 in a final that kept hundreds of spectators on the edge of their seats at Fujen Catholic University Stadium in New Taipei.

The two teams attacked at will early in the match as both looked to take an early lead. Paraguay went in front after a cleverly worked free kick was headed into the net.

A Paraguay player attacks from the corner. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
A Paraguay player attacks from the corner. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020

In the second half, Guatemala stepped up the pace as they looked to level the score and finally converted their own free kick.

After scoring the Paraguayans peppered the Guatemalan goal with shots, but then ran out of steam. Guatemala scored their second goal from another set piece, before a cross into the box was met with an unstoppable shot from close range to make the score 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, with the match ending 3-1.

The turnaround was the product of luck, technique, and teamwork, said a Guatemalan defender who identified herself as Stephanie. "In football, you never know what can happen. Football is very unpredictable and things can change in a heartbeat," Stephanie told CNA.

Communication was also another key element that helped the team win the game, said another Guatemalan defender, identified as Cristina.

Guatemalan goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez said the team had an edge because the Paraguayan team 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 goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez makes a save during the final match. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
Guatemalan goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez makes a save during the final match. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
Guatemalan goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez poses with her gold medal. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
Guatemalan goalkeeper Jerusha Sanchez poses with her gold medal. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020

Guatemalan Ambassador to Taiwan Willy Alberto Gómez Tirado praised the team and said there will be a celebration to mark the win. "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."

The Guatemalan women's team were runners-up last year, while Paraguay came third.

Meanwhile, a United Kingdom team clinched the title in the men's competition after a dramatic penalty shootout in the final against a French team.

The U.K. and France battled to a 0-0 draw in regular time, resulting in a penalty shootout that saw the U.K. score four to France's three.

It was the first time a U.K. team has competed in Copa America Taiwan, according to the team's captain Alex Willett. "

The team spirit is just amazing, everybody's working hard for each other. Just hard work and determination," Willett said.

A United Kingdom team goalkeeper makes a save during the penalty kick shootout. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
A United Kingdom team goalkeeper makes a save during the penalty kick shootout. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
The United Kingdom team celebrate after defeating France in the penalty shootout. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
The United Kingdom team celebrate after defeating France in the penalty shootout. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
The United Kingdom team pose with their trophy. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020
The United Kingdom team pose with their trophy. CNA photo Oct. 19, 2020

The Copa America Taiwan football tournament was launched in 2014 and worked with Taiwan Digital Diplomacy Association this year to extend the reach of the games beyond Taiwanese spectators, said Honduran Juan Fernando Herrera Ramos, the main organizer of the tournament since 2019.

Over 3,000 people attended the two-day tournament which kicked off Saturday with 23 teams and support from several embassies and representative offices in Taiwan.

(By William Yen)

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