Lahore, 12 February: Chinese Taipei took a major step towards the fourth AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers with an emphatic 5-2 victory over Laos at Taipei in the first-leg of their pre-qualification playoffs. The winner of Chinese Taipei/Laos tie will clash with Pakistan, Turkmensitan and 2008 Champion in Group B in a yet-to-be-determined country. The group stage will be played between 20-31 March 2011.
Chinese Taipei is one of the eight lowest-ranked teams out of 20, which entered the fray, will play off on a home-and-away basis and the four winners will qualify for the 16-team group phase. Cambodia, Philippines were also play-offs winners like Chinese Taipei while Bhutan/Afghanistan was postponed at Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu.
Lin Cheng-yi opened the scoring for Taipei in the ten minutes at the National Stadium, Kaohsiung, before Han Chang doubled the home side’s advantage in the 22nd minute. A Chen Po-liang strike with a minute of the first-half remaining saw Chinese Taipei take a commanding three-goal lead into the break and just four minutes after the restart Lo Chih-an made it 4-0 before Han struck again in the 56th minute with his second and the East Asians’ fifth. Kitsada Thongkhen reduced the deficit in the 65th minute while Phattana Syvilay struck a second for Laos to give the ASEAN side a feint glimmer of hope for the second-leg in Vientiane on February 16.
At Phnom Penh, Sam El Nasa struck twice as Cambodia defeated Macau 3-1 at the National Olympic Stadium, The Preah Khan Reach striker broke the deadlock three minutes into the second-half before doubling the home side’s advantage seven minutes later with his second of the game. Khuon Laboravy made it 3-0 just before the hour-mark but Cambodia couldn’t add to their tally and it was Macau that got on the score-sheet with Leong Ka Hang grabbing a consolation goal for the former Portuguese colony. The second leg takes place in Macau on Wednesday, February 16.
At Panaad Stadium, Bacolod, Philippines seized the advantage against Mongolia with a 2-0 home win. Emelio Caligdong opened the scoring with 43rd minute strike, a composed finish from inside the box. Despite dominating the fixture the Philippines couldn’t break down a defence-minded Mongolia until stoppage-time when ex-Chelsea reserve striker Phil Younghusband doubled the Azkals advantage. The second leg takes place on Tuesday, March 15.