Taiwan eases past Laos 4-0 in Women's Asian Cup qualifiers
Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Taiwan's women's soccer team opened its qualifying round for the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup with a 4-0 victory over Laos in Bahrain on Monday.
The victory lifted Taiwan to the top of Group A, and a win over the group's hosts Bahrain on Sunday would send Taiwan to the Asian Cup, being held Jan. 20 to Feb. 6, 2022 in the Indian cities of Navi Mumbai, Mumbai and Pune.
Taiwan was originally tapped to host the qualifying group, but its strict COVID-19 quarantine protocols led some of the participating teams to worry they would not have enough practice time before their matches, according to the Chinese Taipei Football Association.
Ranked 40th in the world and eighth in Asia, Taiwan's women's team looms as the favorite in its group, ahead of 85th-ranked Bahrain and Laos, which is making an appearance in the qualifying stage for the first time.
Despite Taiwan being the safer bet, it hasn't qualified for the Asian Cup since 2008.
Ten of the 12 berths for the 2022 Women's Asian Cup have been secured, by hosts India, Japan, Australia, China, Thailand, South Korea, Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, and Indonesia.
Only the qualifying teams from Taiwan's Group A in Bahrain and Group D, being held in Kyrgyzstan, have yet to be decided.
On Monday in Bahrain, Taiwan took care of business as expected, with forward Chen Yen-ping (陳燕萍) opening the scoring at the 19-minute mark.
Taiwan was unapologetic about maintaining possession in its opponent's half of the field, taking every opportunity to wear down Laos' defense. The pressure eventually paid off when forward Su Yu-hsuan (蘇育萱) added to Taiwan's lead in the 32nd minute.
Forward Lai Li-chin (賴麗琴), a veteran from Taiwan's successful 2008 qualifying campaign, sealed the deal with two goals in the second half, converting a pass into her team's third goal in the 55th minute and booting in a loose ball in the goal area at the hour mark.
After the match, Taiwan's head coach Kazuo Echigo, said that though his team won, it did not meet all of the goals he set and adjustments will have to be made.
Acknowledging that the next match against Bahrain will be critical, Echigo said he will make use of the time before then to come up with a strategy for the match and train his players accordingly.
Bahrain will play Laos on Thursday before concluding Group A play against Taiwan on Sunday.
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