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Summary of EAFF E-1 Football Championship 2019 Round 2 Chinese Taipei
Chinese Taipei, DPR Korea, Hong Kong and Round 1 winner Mongolia met in Taipei for Round 2 of the EAFF E-1 Football Championship which determined the fourth team that will play in the final tournament.
The surprise winners were Hong Kong, who toppled the heavily-favored DPR Korea team thanks to a single goal in the goal-difference tie-breaker after both teams finished undefeated with seven points each.
GARY JOHN WHITE’s men deservedly clinched the title. They were the most balanced of the four teams, featuring a multi-ethnic line-up that represents the diversity of today’s Hong Kong. At age 44, White has already coached three EAFF national teams, and in a few months managed to put together a competitive Hong Kong squad. In 2019, that squad will challenge East Asia’s big guns--Korea Republic, Japan, and China PR. “My players’ energy and their passion were great,” WHITE said. “We have a very full schedule for next year. But it is great that now it includes the final of the EAFF tournament as well.”
Hong Kong goalkeeper HUNG FAI YAPP produced several key saves, supported by a well-balanced defense and one of the best pairings of center-backs in East Asia in the form of towering ANDREW JAMES RUSSELL and experienced FESTUS BAISE.
Hong Kong Captain YANG HUANG was recognized as the best player of the tournament. The midfielder was a beacon for the rest of his team, who also benefitted from the dynamism of JAIMES ANTHONY MCKEE, the class of ALESSANDRO FERREIRA LEONARDO, and the effectiveness of ALEXANDER OLUWATAYO AKANDE.
DPR Korea proved themselves yet again to be a top side, and displayed intense moments of world-class quick-passing football. But in the end, YONG JUN KIM’s men, who conceded only one goal in three games, were betrayed by poor finishing and tough luck. “We had plenty of opportunities,” said Captain IL GWAN JONG after the end of the tournament. “We should have scored more goals.”
The best example of JONG’s comments came in the dying minutes of the last game against Chinese Taipei, when DPR Korea was leading 2-0 and was desperately in need of a third goal to win the tournament. But IL GWAN JONG’s free-kick hit the crossbar, his almost perfect shot being a metaphor of what DPR Korea lacked at this tournament--precision and luck.
Chinese Taipei was possibly the most entertaining of the four teams. While still not at the level of Hong Kong or DPR Korea, they amused the local fans with their modern, dynamic playing style. “The players did their best,” said Interim Manager CA NHUM VOM. “I think we did not let the fans down.”
Goalkeeper WEN-CHIEH PAN produced a number of spectacular saves, Captain PO-LIANG CHEN was steadily at the helm, and EN-LE CHU’s historical brace gave Chinese Taipei the victory over Mongolia.
It was the Mongolian team’s first time participating in Round 2, and it came on the wings of enthusiasm after their convincing victory in Round 1 back in September. But while the team built by German coach HANS MICHAEL WEISS had some good moments and managed to score in all three games, they still showed some naivety, which is to be expected from a group of young players competing for the first time at this level.
However, Mongolia also showed that with an experienced manager and quality players such as midfielder TUGULDUR MUNKH-ERDENE and striker NARANBOLD NYAM-OSOR, they could be contenders in future editions of the tournament. “We now have this experience we can analyze, to help us to avoid mistakes,” said WEISS. “We have many good young players, and step by step we will continue to improve.”
The stage is now set in Guam for Round 2 of the Women’s tournament from 1-5 December, which will feature China PR, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Mongolia.