AFC Challenge Cup: Know India's rivals - Chinese Taipei

As the Indians gear up for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, we take a closer look at their rivals. Here we turn our attention to Chinese Taipei.....
India will kick off their AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers campaign, when they take on the Chinese Taipei at Yangon, Myanmar. The team which is ranked 171 in the FIFA World Rankings, should on paper, not trouble the Blue Tigers a lot, but India can afford to take any opponent lightly, at their own peril. takes a closer look at the Chinese Taipei as they hope to secure a path to the Cup finals in 2014.

Ranking: India will look to get off to the perfect start against their rivals Chinese Taipei, who are ranked four places below the Blue Tigers at 171. The Chinese team have achieved their highest ranking of 144 way back in 2006. They were ranked 180 in the early part of 2009 but have managed to pull themselves up by nine places since then.

Coach: The coach, Chiang Mu-Tsai has had reasonable amount of success with Taiwanese club Tatung FC where he spent time as a player and manager. He won the Enterprise Football League in 2005 and 2006 with Tatung, in addition to reaching the semi-finals of the AFC President's Cup in 2006.

Chiang (left) won honours with Tatung FC

Chiang has a different approach towards managing a team. He has claimed in many of his post-match interviews, that he does not mind his team losing or winning, but only expects that every player in his team gives it their best.

Initial roots: The Chinese Taipei Football Association (CTFA) was formed in 1924. Known initially as the China Football Association, it was relocated from China to Taiwan after the Chinese Civil War. The team has undergone numerous changes in name, from Taiwan to Republic of China and finally settling on Chinese Taipei.

Problems arising due to regional conflicts: It was under the name of Taiwan when the team had maximum success, when they finished third in the 1960 Asian Cup. Due to a dispute with the People's Republic of China, the team was forced to play its World Cup qualifiers under the banner of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) from 1975 to 1989.

Clubs representing the nation: The national side draws a sizeable chunk of its players from the Taiwan Power Corporation Football Club (Taipower) which has been in existence since 1979. They have won 14 league titles, 10 of which were won consecutively from 1994 to 2004. Since the departure of Flying Camels and Taipei City Bank Football Club in the 1990's, Tatung FC and Taipower are two of four sides in the country's Enterprise Football League.

Taipower made history when they won the 2011 AFC President's Cup at home making them the first ever side from Taiwan to win an Asian title.

World Cup Record: Taipei haven't had a taste of the World Cup, despite being offered a passageway to compete during the 1930 World Cup, when all FIFA affiliated countries were invited to take part in the tournament. This hostility towards the biggest event in world football continued till 1950. The team withdrew from qualification for the 1954 and 1958 World Cups, before refusing to enter the tournament yet again till 1974. The side has yet to qualify for a World Cup since then.

Asian encounters: Taipei's record in Asia is nothing to be envious about. They finished in third and fourth places during the 1960 and 1968 Asian Cups respectively. The team was expelled from the 1976 tournament in controversial circumstances by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), despite Taiwan being one of the founders of the AFC. Since then the Taiwanese have not competed in the Asian Cup.

They however made it to the quarter-finals of the AFC Challenge Cup in 2006, where they lost 3-0 to eventual runners-up Sri Lanka. They will be hoping to put in a better performance in the qualifiers, and ensure that they will be making the flight to the Maldives in 2014.

Key Players: The team's star player is Chen Po-Liang, who was appointed captain of the national team in August 2009. He is the youngest captain in the national team's history. 

On 25 August 2009, in a East Asian Football Championship 2010 semi final game, he scored two goals against Guam, to help Chinese Taipei secure a 4-2 win. In the 2014 FIFA World Cup Asian qualification first round matches, on 29 June 2011, Chen Po-Liang scored a goal in the 2-1 loss away to Malaysia.

Back to Taipei on 3 July 2011, for the return leg, Chen Po-Liang scored a penalty but missed a second chance from the spot, as Chinese Taipei won 3-2 at home, but lost the tie on the away goals rule. Chen was so upset with the penalty miss that he cried uncontrollably and apologized to the 15,000 fans who attended the game at the Taipei Municipal Stadium.

Recent form:  The Chinese Taipei ended the year 2012 on a forgettable note, with an 8-0 loss to Australia in Hong Kong in the 2013 EAFF East Asian Cup Prelimnary Competition. This was after they had lost 2-0 to Hong Kong, drew 1-1 with Guam and were mauled 1-6 by North Korea.

Follow Srinivasan Mohan on 

How do you stay up with football when on the move? With –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.