Taiwan returns to Women's Asian Cup for first time in 14 years
Taipei, Oct. 25 (CNA) Taiwan punched its ticket for the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup with a 2-0 victory over Bahrain in the final match of the qualifiers at Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Manama on Sunday, making a return to the continental showpiece for the first time in 14 years.
The triumph in the curtain raiser booked Taiwan's slot in the tournament for the first time since 2008 where it will join Japan, Australia, China, Thailand, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, Indonesia, Myanmar, and hosts India in the Indian cities of Navi Mumbai and Pune from Jan. 20 to Feb. 6, 2022.
The draw for the tournament's group stage will be held in Kuala Lumpur Thursday, where the 12 teams will be split into three groups.
The Sunday match kicked off with Taiwan working hard to wear down the Bahrain defense with wave after wave of attacks in the first half, though Bahrain did its best to halt the offensive, making several key saves.
With the score remaining nil-nil after the break, Taiwan turned up the heat scoring in the 61st minute when a free kick by forward Lai Li-chin (賴麗琴) went flying over the outstretched arms of Bahrain goalkeeper Huda Ali Salman and into the back of the net.
A veteran of Taiwan's successful 2008 qualifying campaign, it was Lai's third international goal in the past week, having scored back-to-back goals against Laos on Oct. 18.
Taiwan further increased their lead to 2-0 in the 77th minute after forward Chen Yen-ping (陳燕萍) nodded in a loose ball that deflected off the crossbar after Salman blocked an initial penalty area shot by defender Pan Yen-shin (潘彥昕).
It was Chen's second international goal over the past week after opening the scoring in the match against Laos.
After the match, Taiwan's head coach Kazuo Echigo thanked the players for their hard work since the start of the campaign.
However, the opponents in the finals will be stronger teams than those defeated in the qualifiers, he said, adding that strengthening and correcting any weaknesses remains a priority.
Taiwan's women's soccer team are three-time Asian champions, winning the title in 1977, 1979, and 1981.
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