Fujen University become the first Taiwanese side in an Asian Continental Competition

On Wednesday night (7th March 2018) Taiwanese Premier League side Fujen University travelled to Macau to face Benfica Macau. In doing so they became the first ever Taiwanese side to compete in Asia’s second continental club competition.

Fujen Uni is called Hang Yuen on the AFC website due to the odd sponsor arrangement that takes place in Taiwan with the company Hang Yuen and the Taiwanese Premier League, we presume it is because there is a general lack of interest in sponsorship.

Each season they will sponsor one team participating in the league and then change to another team the season after. This year they are sponsoring Hang Yuen, so in Chinese, the team name is Hang Yuen Fujen, but in English, it is just Hang Yuen.  So we hope that can clear up any confusion if people search for them on google because sometimes it finds results saying Fujen University and sometimes it returns results saying Hang Yuen F.C.

The AFC Cup is Asia’s equivalent to the Europes Europa league in the fact it is Asia's second competition. However, due to Asia’s sheer size, it makes it difficult to have a full draw where all participating members can be drawn together. This reduces with opponents you're likely to face as each part of Asia is divided into a sub-region to make it easier and more affordable for teams to travel to matches. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity, it does make the competitions a bit less exciting but it can’t be helped.
The different sub-regions that the groups are split into are West, Central, South, ASEAN (South East) and East. Taiwan falls under the East Asian category and therefore would play teams from Macau, North Korea and one team from the playoff round, which ended up being another North Korean team as Hwaebul defeated Mongolians champions Erchim to take the last group spot.

For some of the less competitive sub-regions, this competition is used primarily for the development of the teams and players, it’s used as a way to promote football,  along with being used for associations to gain more hosting experience. A great positive of this competition is it is a way to promote football to regions where it’s not currently popular.

For other regions on the continent where football is already popular and has a massive following, their aim is always to go as far as possible in the competition and eventually try to win it. The teams from East Asia fall more into the development category as it’s likely a team from Taiwan, Mongolia or Macau won’t win the trophy. The smaller nations will struggle to get further than the group stages. What they can do however is still gain valuable experience playing teams from other nations. 

Before tonight’s game I would have said it would be a success if Fujen managed to pick up any points in their group, but after watching them play tonight I have to eat my words. They started a little nervously but after 10 minutes or so they took control of the first half and went 2-0 up while playing some beautiful football. When the first half ended it seemed as if Fuji's first foray into the continental competition was going to end very well for them.

But either Fujen got nervous or Benfica Macau improved after the interval. Either way, the team from Macau started the second half well and it looked like Fujen would be fighting to hang onto the win. The home side then pulled it back to 2-1. With this goal, you could see the body language of the Fujen players change they started to show nerves that hadn't been on the show before. A second then came for the home side not long after the first to make it 2-2.

After the equalizer, the Taiwanese side looked like they’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson such was the energy sucked from them with the second goal. After this, there was only going to be one winner. Benfica Macau did manage to get a third that had been coming to make it 3-2 that represented a remarkable turnaround in the game.

Both Benfica Macau and Fujen University looked very evenly matched sides, and a draw would have been the fairer result because Fujen were excellent in the first half, however, Benfica Macau was excellent second half. This will be a great experience for both teams however I can see them struggle to defeat the North Korean sides who we fully expect to top the group.

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