Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
- FIFA ranking: 123
- Manager: TBA
- Key player: Chen Po-Liang, midfielder, Hangzhou Greentown (China League One)
- Last match: Chinese Taipei 2-0 Malaysia (friendly)
Hosts Chinese Taipei go into the EAFF cautiously optimistic of qualifying for their first ever EAFF Championship. They have had a strong year, winning seven consecutive home games and climbing the FIFA rankings. Losing manager Gary White to group rivals Hong Kong has been an unwanted disruption for the team, as has the delay in announcing the English manager’s replacement. However, Taiwanese fans will be hoping that home advantage can offset this and see Chinese Taipei top a very winnable group. The experience of captain and all-time-leading-goal-scorer Chen Po-Liang could prove crucial in tight games.
Korea DPR (North Korea)
- FIFA ranking: 109
- Manager: Kim Yong Jun
- Key player: Pak Kwang-Ryong, forward, SKN St. Pölten (Austrian Bundesliga)
- Last match: Uzbekistan 2-0 Korea DPR (friendly)
Group favourites Korea DPR have had a mixed preparation for the tournament. They beat group rivals Hong Kong 2-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier in Pyongyang back in March, but were disappointing in a 2-0 friendly defeat against Uzbekistan earlier in October. Leading the line for the Koreans will be the 6 ft 2 in/1.88m Austrian Bundesliga target-man Pak Kwang-Ryong (SKN St. Pölten) and Swiss Superleague striker Jong Il-Gwan (FC Luzern), who was linked with Newcastle United and PSV in the past.
- FIFA ranking: 186
- Manager: Michael Weiss
- Key player: Bayasgalangiin Garidmagnai, defender, Deren FC (Mongolian National Premier League)
- Last match: Laos 1-4 Mongolia (friendly)
Despite being founded in 1959, the Mongolian national team was inactive from 1960-1998. Since then, football has been making steady inroads in popularity in a country where Mongolian wrestling dominates. Led by German Michael Weiss, Mongolia has recently shown an increased commitment to football. This year, the Mongolian Football Federation recently constructed a modern training facility which allows the Mongolian team to finally train within Mongolia. Mongolia qualified for this round of the EAFF Championship with a string of impressive victories, which included beating Macau 4-1 and thrashing the Northern Mariana Islands 9-0.
- FIFA ranking: 143
- Manager: Gary White
- Key player: Giovane Alves da Silva, forward, R&F Soccer Limited (Hong Kong Premier League)
- Last match: Indonesia 1-1 Hong Kong (friendly)
Manager Gary White is well known in Taiwan, following a successful year in charge of the Chinese Taipei national team. After leaving Taiwan for Hong Kong he has had a number of issues to tackle. The Hong Kong team is not popular with its own fans right now, with home fans reportedly booing the national anthem in a recent 1-0 defeat to Thailand. On the pitch, Hong Kong have found goals hard to come by, in that defeat to Thailand they managed 20 shots, 10 of which were on target, but failed to score. Hong Kong found their scoring touch in the next game, a 1-1 draw away in Indonesia, courtesy of 38-year-old Nigerian-born centre back Festus Baise. To help address the lack of goals in the side White has turned to 35-year-old Brazilian-born striker Giovane Alves da Silva, who acquired his Hong Kong passport last month.