The six and last match of the men’s EAFF E-1 FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP 2017 ROUND 1 GUAM was basically a final, in which Macau needed to win to claim the title and qualify for the next round, while for Chinese Taipei a draw would have been enough in order to become a champion.
In front of a very vocal crowd that had gathered at the GFA National Training Center in Guam, Macau took the lead in the 7th minute as a free kick from Man Chan from just a few centimetres outside the box took a deflection and beat goalkeeper Chiu Yu-hung.
Chinese Taipei struggled to reorganise its ranks for most of the first half, but finally earned the equaliser thanks to a smooth finish by the tournament MVP Lin Chieh-hsun in the 36th minute.
Into the second half, the match remained opened until it was turned around in the 64th minute. Lin Chieh-hsun notched his second in the match (and seventh of the tournament) thanks to another timely run on a through-ball, and a perfect lob that hit the post and rolled into the goal.
Yet, it wasn’t over, since in the 77th minute Lei Ka him was quick in slotting home a ball that had fallen on his feet after a scramble on a corner kick, and the two teams were again even, with the Macanese only one goal away from claiming the tournament.
However, Chinese Taipei still had energy to clinch the winner: Lin Chieh-hsun completed his astounding match with an assist for Tseng Chih-wei who came in flying from the right to head home the goal that set the match on the 3-2, that was also the final score.
Chinese Taipei deservedly won the match and this round of the tournament; however, Macau as well played impressive football and was very likely the team that improved the most since the previous edition played in 2014.
Chinese Taipei - Lin Chieh-hsun (#8, scored two goals)
“We conceded in the beginning and then allowed Macau to tie the game after we had been leading… We need to be more in control, and play our football more calmly.
“I am happy about the two goals I scored, but I also missed a few, I need to practice harder and to improve
“As our coach said, it is good that we won here, but to succeed in the next round we need a lot of effort to prepare and be at our best. We were the strongest team here, but in the next round we need to be ready to face teams that are better than us”.
Chinese Taipei - Toshiaki Imai (coach)
“Well, we did get the tournament, thought in all honesty I hoped to win more smoothly. We still need to earn more experience, we still lack the capacity to read the moments of the match.
“The opponents of the next round will be of higher level. We need to improve too. Our attacking skills now are satisfactory, but defensively we do need to do better, we need to be better at positioning and marking.
“Lin Chieh-hsun played a great tournament for us, but I also want to praise our goalkeeper Pan Wen-chieh who performed a heroic save versus Mongolia, got badly injured and today had to watch the game on a wheelchair. Luckily, he will be fit for the next games in November.
“The fact that Chinese Taipei doesn’t have a professional league is a big handicap, but we will do our best to be ready for the next round”.
Macau - Felipe Cordeiro Duarte (#13)
“It was a really good match, really entertaining for the neutral I guess. We knew it was going to be difficult, last year in autumn we lost 5-1 to them, but today we were not afraid, we were aggressive, and we definitely had our moments.
“This team is very young, but we never gave up, and it has improved a lot, game after game. It is very good for us to play international matches, and we hope to get the chance to play more in the future”.
Tam Iao san (coach)
“It was great team effort, we never gave up, fought until the very end, and we have laid the foundation for the future of this national team. I think that in general our opponents here were better than us, but we did our utmost to challenge them.
“Today we hoped to finish the first half on a tie, which we did, and then push into the second half to get the victory. We missed some players due to injury, but everybody did great.
“Overall I am satisfied of what we achieved, and looking forward to our next competitions”.
By Cesare Polenghi (twitter