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Tainan City must win against Eastern Long Lions to advance to the knockout stage. Photo: AFC

AFC Cup: Tainan City face must-win game against Eastern Long Lions

  • Taiwanese club must defeat Hong Kong side in final Group J match on Thursday to stand any chance of advancing to knockout stage
  • AFC extends deadline for bids to stage 2023 Asian Cup, following China’s decision to relinquish hosting rights for international tournament

Tainan City FC head coach Kenneth Kwok has vowed to apply the lessons from his side’s AFC Cup loss at the hands of Lee Man in Buriram, as the club look to keep their hopes of a place in the next phase of the competition alive.

Monday’s 3-1 defeat means the Taiwanese side must win against Eastern Long Lions in their final match in Group J on Thursday to have any chance of advancing to the knockout stage, as the battle for the solitary qualifying spot approaches its climax.

“I’m proud of them,” Kwok said of his players. “They worked so hard to achieve my match plan. There were a few mistakes that happened and they really killed us with the errors we committed. It’s a lesson for them.”

After a scoreless first half, Lee Man moved into a commanding lead when Yung Hui-to and Junior Dutra struck. While Marc-Mechez Fenelus pulled one back from the penalty spot for Tainan, the Hong Kong club restored their two-goal cushion when Chang Hei-yin netted 12 minutes from time.

Kwok admitted his team had failed to take their chances, especially during the second half of the match.

Gil Martins warms up before the start of Lee Man’s AFC Cup Group J clash with Tainan City in Buriram. Photo: Lee Man

“We are an attacking team and seldom need to put emphasis on defence, so the plan worked well in the first half. We just failed to convert the chances,” Kwok said.

“I’m still looking on the positive side. We need to have better finishing, and we should have scored from the few chances we had. I’m still optimistic. This team has a future.”

The win moved Lee Man onto three points from their two games in Group J, but head coach Chan Hiu-ming and his players must now wait for the outcome of the match between Eastern and Tainan City to find out if they advance to the next phase.

Eastern off to flying start in AFC Cup with win over Lee Man

Meanwhile, the issue of where the 2023 Asian Cup will be held continues to linger after governing body the AFC announced on Tuesday it had extended its deadline for bids to stage the tournament, following China’s decision to relinquish hosting rights.

China was awarded the rights in 2019, and the 24-team competition was expected to be held across 10 cities between June 16 and July 16 next summer. While South Korea and Japan have both expressed interest in picking up hosting duties, no clear bidder has emerged.

Football Australia has said it is also weighing up a possible bid. The AFC said interested parties must now confirm their bids by July 15, having previously set a June 30 deadline last month.