Taiwan on Monday lost their seventh consecutive qualifying match for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, falling 1-5 to Australia in Kuwait.
The loss means that Taiwan will finish last in the five-team Group B with one match left to play in the second round of Asian qualifiers on Tuesday next week against Kuwait. Australia lead the group with six straight wins and appear certain to clinch the top spot and an automatic berth in the next qualification round.
Taiwan head coach Henry Von said his team showed fighting spirit against the group’s best team, improving from their 0-2 loss to Nepal on Thursday.
“They adjusted better to the game conditions, actively engaging and taking on the strong Australian opposition. They mostly carried out the objectives we set out prior to the match,” Von said.
“Our youngsters improved and are growing into their roles. They include Kao [Wei-chieh], who got the goal today. I am proud of these young players, and I believe they have gained valuable international experience by taking part in these Group B qualifiers,” he said.
Despite being the underdogs, Taiwan used a defensive strategy that held off Australia early on, but that changed in the 12th minute, when 1.98m-tall Socceroos defender Harry Souttar knocked in a header off a corner-kick by Riley McGree.
Australia’s lead doubled in the 26th minute when forward Jamie Maclaren converted a penalty-kick, awarded after he was hacked down in the box by Taiwan defender Chen Wei-chuan, who received a yellow card.
Australia padded its lead not long before halftime in the 40th minute, when captain Trent Sainsbury headed in another corner-kick by McGree.
The Socceroos’ scoring spell continued just 18 seconds into the second half, when Mitchell Duke headed home a cross from Brandon Borrello.
However, Taiwan refused to give up and eventually found an opportunity in the 61st minute.
Midfielder Tu Shao-chieh burst forward and cut the ball back to forward Kao, who sent it into the top right corner of the net past Australia goalkeeper Daniel Vukovic.
“It felt fantastic,” Kao said of his goal in a post-match interview.
“Tu broke through Australia’s defense, carrying [the ball] into a good position inside the goal area. I was prepared for his pass, getting ready to shoot, and fortunately, it went in,” he said.
“My intention was to cross in front of the box, but I noticed that many Australian players had rushed back to defend the area,” Tu said. “My eyes caught a player in a blue shirt at an acute angle, so I passed the ball there, and it was great that Kao fired it in.”
The Australians added a final goal in the 84th minute when Taiwan goalkeeper Shih Shin-an was pulled out of his position and striker Nikita Rukavytsya cut the ball back for Duke, who scored his second goal.
“We still have plenty of areas to improve upon, but it was a good performance from our team,” Taiwan captain Wu Chun-ching said, praising the energetic display of younger players Kao, Tu and Emilio Estevez Tsai.
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
Taiwan on Monday lost their seventh consecutive qualifying match for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar, falling 1-5 to Australia in Kuwait. The loss means that Taiwan will finish last in the five-team Group B with one match left to play in the second round of Asian qualifiers on Tuesday next week against Kuwait. Australia lead the group with six straight wins and appear certain to clinch the top spot and an automatic berth in the next qualification round. Taiwan head coach Henry Von said his team showed fighting spirit against the group’s best team, improving from their 0-2
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