Taiwan ends winless World Cup qualifier campaign with loss to Kuwait

06/16/2021 11:49 AM
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Taiwan midfielder Emilio Estevez Tsai (蔡立靖, front, right) chases for possession of the ball against Kuwait forward Ahmad Zanki (front, left). Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
Taiwan midfielder Emilio Estevez Tsai (蔡立靖, front, right) chases for possession of the ball against Kuwait forward Ahmad Zanki (front, left). Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association

Taipei, June 16 (CNA) Taiwan wrapped up its unsuccessful qualifying campaign for the 2022 FIFA World Cup with its eighth loss in eight Group B matches, a 2-1 defeat to Kuwait on Tuesday.

With the eight losses, Taiwan finished last in the five-team Group B in the second round of Asian qualifiers.

Kuwait ended its campaign in second place in the group with 14 points but also missed out on the final qualifying round because other second-place finishers in the remaining seven qualifying groups had better records.

Taiwan's head coach Henry Von (王家中) said he was satisfied with the overall performance of his team because of the leadership displayed by older and experienced players, which allowed younger players to be confident on the pitch.

Though many of the team's players still have to get better and improve their skills when they return to Taiwan, their play in Kuwait was not bad, Von said.

In the match at Jaber Al Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City, Kuwait forward Yousef Nasser opened the scoring in the 14th minute with an easy finish off a well-timed back-heel pass from Fawaz Al Otaibi that beat the outstretched leg of Taiwan goalkeeper Shih Shin-an (施信安).

Kuwait forward Yousef Nasser (left) scores against Taiwan goalkeeper Shih Shin-an (施信安). Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
Kuwait forward Yousef Nasser (left) scores against Taiwan goalkeeper Shih Shin-an (施信安). Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association

After the wake-up call, Taiwan stiffened its defense, with Shih blocking a header from Kuwait defender Hamad Al Harbi on a set piece in the 40th minute.

Taiwan channeled its energy into its attack in the second half and scored the equalizer on a set piece in the 51st minute when captain Wu Chun-ching (吳俊青) angled a low header off the ground into the back of the net past Kuwait goalkeeper Sulaiman Abdulghafoor.

The celebration was short-lived, however, as Shih was left on the ground in the 71st minute after Nassar fired a long-range turn-around shot from outside of the penalty arc to clinch victory for the home side.

Taiwan captain Wu Chun-ching (吳俊青, front) scores a header. Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
Taiwan captain Wu Chun-ching (吳俊青, front) scores a header. Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
The Taiwan team celebrates their goal. Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
The Taiwan team celebrates their goal. Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association

Taiwan's first five matches in the second round followed the typical home-and-away round robin format in 2019.

But the qualifying round was then suspended for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the remaining games in the group were played from June 3 to 15 in Kuwait, where Taiwan had previously lost to Nepal 2-0 and Australia 5-1.

In the qualifiers played in 2019, Taiwan lost home matches to Jordan (2-1), Nepal (2-0) and Australia (7-1) and road matches to Kuwait (9-0) and Jordan (5-0).

Australia won Group B with a perfect eight wins, and joined six other group winners Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan, United Arab Emirates and South Korea and the top five second-place finishers China, Oman, Iraq, Vietnam and Lebanon in the next round of qualifying.

There were eight qualifying groups, but Group E winner Qatar has an automatic berth in the World Cup final draw and will not compete in the last qualifying round.

Eliminated from World Cup qualifying, Taiwan will next compete in a major international tournament in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification play-off round in September.

(By William Yen)

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Taiwan's national football team. Photo courtesy of Kuwait Football Association
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