Chinese Taipei are in a strong position ahead of November’s qualification campaign, says goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh.
The national side are preparing for next months qualifiers for round two of the East Asian Football Championships and Pan has cited his recent experience at the Asian Games in Jakarta as great preparation for the tournament. “Many countries usually play [at a] faster pace in the Asian Games than the domestic teams of the Taiwan league.”
Chinese Taipei have a good opportunity to win their four-team group – the only way of qualifying for the finals in Seoul next year. They will play all of their qualifiers in Taipei, where they have won seven consecutive matches. If Chinese Taipei are successful, they will earn the right to play current champions South Korea, Asian giants Japan and fierce local rivals China. To qualify for their first-ever EAFF finals, Chinese Taipei must overcome North Korea, Hong Kong and Mongolia.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup for Chinese Taipei takes place on the opening weekend, Sunday the 11th November. Chinese Taipei take on former manager Gary White’s Hong Kong team. White enjoyed a successful year in Taiwan, with those seven consecutive home wins helping Chinese Taipei rise from 148th in the FIFA rankings to 123rd under the Englishman’s stewardship.
Despite leaving for group rivals Hong Kong in September, Chinese Taipei fans are expected to give White a warm welcome. White had previously indicated his desire to extend his stay in Taiwan and was reportedly disappointed when contract talks failed to progress. Nevertheless, any goodwill will mean nothing when Chinese Taipei face Hong Kong, knowing they will likely need to win to keep pace with group favourites North Korea, who play lowest ranked side Mongolia in their opening game.
Chinese Taipei begin their qualification campaign v Hong Kong on Sunday 11th November (18:10), they then face Mongolia on November 13th (19:10) and finish the campaign against DPR Korea on November 16th (19:10).