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Echigo excited for Chinese Taipei’s next gen


Sydney: Kazuo Echigo has called on his Chinese Taipei side to make the most of their AFC Olympic Qualifiers Final Round experience, after they began their Group B campaign with an important 1-0 win over Thailand on Monday.

Ting Chi’s first-half winner means another victory in either of their two remaining matches against Australia and China PR would almost certainly see Echigo’s charges through to next month’s play-off round, with a maiden Olympic qualification remaining the ultimate goal.

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Long forgotten as one of Asia’s women’s football heavyweights, Echigo is hopeful that youngsters like Lee Pei-jung, Lan Yu-chieh, both 19, and Zhuo Li-ping, 20, can spearhead a renaissance for the three-time Asian champions.

The Chinese Taipei head coach believes that while reaching Tokyo 2020 remains a tough assignment, brighter days are ahead for the team’s current crop of players, starting with the experience they are gaining in Sydney this week.

“Honestly, I think that it’s a difficult task for us to go through this group,” conceded Echigo; a former Japanese’s men’s international. “But all I can say is we’re going to do our best and give it everything we’ve got.

“We had seven young players in our first 11 today. In my opinion, these girls are the players who are responsible for the next generation.

“Of course, our goal is to go to the next stage, but for me, for these young players to experience (playing against) a team like Australia - a team that is in the top 10 in the FIFA rankings - I think that’s a huge thing for them.”

Played in gusty conditions at Campbelltown Stadium, Chinese Taipei at times rode their luck in the match against the Chaba Kaew, who themselves were guilty of a lack of attacking edge despite no shortage of possession and territory.

Echigo’s delight at claiming a first-up win was tempered somewhat by disappointment at the way his side executed a counter-attacking approach which is expected to be utilised in Chinese Taipei’s remaining matches in Sydney.

 

“It’s a good thing that we got the first victory, but in terms of the performance, we could have done much better,” he said.

“Our counterattack is a good example. We could have done much better. Every decision they made, perhaps they could have scored more in this game.

“I don’t think the windy weather affected us, but maybe it did affect Thailand more, in my opinion.”

While Echigo looks to build on a positive start, Naurephon Kaenson’s Thailand side must now play catch up, with a further defeat to either China PR or Australia – both sides ranked in the world top 15 – almost certain to leave their Olympic hopes dashed.

“We were a little bit unlucky in today’s game,” said Kaenson.

“The players tried to do the best that they could, and (it was) only some small mistakes and loss of concentration that happened, which caused us to lose the game.”

Kaenson fielded questions about the non-appearance of veteran Thailand attacker, and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup goal scorer, Kanjana Sung-Ngoen, who remained an unused substitute, even as her teammates tried in vain to chase a late equaliser.

The Thai head coach said the 33-year-old had been left out due to a decision to promote younger players to the starting line-up.

““For this team, the younger players are now becoming the team’s main players,” explained Kaenson.

“I want to keep (Kanjana Sung-Ngoen) as the team’s ‘joker’. This is a tactic that I can use (in future).”

Thailand face what is now a crucial clash against China PR on Friday, with Chinese Taipei looking forward to a meeting with group hosts and World Number Seven Australia.

Photos: Football Federation Australia

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