The women's section of the EAFF E-1 Championship (East Asian Football Federation) commences this week, and will be hosted in Guam. The teams taking place are Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Mongolia. In an odd twist of events, hosts Guam were knocked out in the first round by previous hosts Mongolia.
The first fixtures of the round robin group stage begin on Saturday 1st December and the games run until the 5th December. Here's our rundown for the up-and-coming competition
China favourites for the Women's second round
I don't have any idea why the women's second round wasn't also played in Taiwan at the same time as the men's event but China being involved, and also being clear favourites to win the second round could be a big cause of that.
China will breeze through this easily, and if they did that in Taiwan maybe it wouldn't have went down very well with some people. China currently have some of the most elite players in the women's game, Wang Shuang has just won the Asian Women's player of the year and has slotted into PSG's team no problem. None of the other sides will be a match for China and it will be a cakewalk for them to make it to the final round.
Will be a major surprise if someone does beat China
In the men's section of the competition there was somewhat of a surprise as Hong Kong pipped North Korea in making it to the final by 1 goal scored. For some this was a huge achievement by Hong Kong, because North Korea were always the team that has qualified often in the past, and were always thought of the team that would have no problems qualifying in the future.
Hong Kong saw to it that North Korea wouldn't always be able to breeze into the final, and it is difficult to tell if Hong Kong have improved, or North Korea have got a bit worse, or could it be that a lot of the big players don't bother with this tournament? Who knows, but what we do know is that some people think it was a huge achievement by Hong Kong and some don't.
In the women's game however, China are so far ahead of their opponents Mongolia, Hong Kong and Taiwan that if any of those sides do knock China out and make it to the final it would be seen as a massive upset, so massive that Hong Kong's men's success would be minute in comparison. Yes Hong Kong's men's side making it to the last round was a shock, but the gap between Hong Kong and North Korea isn't as wide as the gap between China's women and the rest. So for that matter it would be one of the biggest shocks, especially in the EAFF for a long time if China didn't make it to the final round.
Taiwan's performance in Olympic qualifying gives them hope
Taiwan produced what were some seemingly superb performances in the women's section of the Olympics (although no one could watch those games because of the host country offering no broadcast of the matches) gives them hope that they will be the ones to topple China, and that would be sweet revenge for the girls in blue after China knocked them out of the Asian Games semi finals.
Taiwan posted up two 9-0 wins, a 10-0 win and a 5-0 win, which points to Taiwan having no problems with the minnows, they even played with two out and out strikers against those teams they thought they would beat with no problem, however when they play against teams they feel inferior to then they go ultra defensive and show very little in the way of attacking intent.
It's hard to understand why because seemingly when the girls are let of the leash then they seem to do OK attacking wise. Maybe the manager thinks they'll be out gunned anyway so defensive is a better approach. I say let the lasses attack, attack and attack and see what happens, because at the end of the day if you're unwilling to attack in games then you'll eventually come unstuck. And everyone knows once you set out in an ultra defensive way its difficult to switch to play very attacking football. For some reason it's not the same the opposite way, so we reckon that's why the manager is often ultra defensive in some games, because Taiwan have an inferiority complex when playing teams bigger than them in form or reputation.
Hong Kong could influence the finals standings and Mongolia likely to struggle
Hong Kong strike me as the kind of team who can beat anyone on their day, but they're also the first team to lose to Mongolia's team for the first time in donkeys. Losing to Mongolia 1-0 in the qualifiers for the Olympic Games in Tokyo. That loss didn't effect the Hong Kong lasses too much though because they still managed to qualify for the next round.
Hong Kong have the potential to beat sides, or lose to sides. When we say that we literally mean they could defeat anyone one day, and lose to the blind school the next, therefore they could influence the final standings in the group by say taking points of China, but losing to the Mongolians.
Mongolia managed to win the first round of this competition which was hosted in Mongolia against Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Macau. That was a lot closer than anyone would have predicted and I don't think anyone saw Mongolia getting through. So what I said about it is hard to tell if North Korea have got worse or the competition better? The exact same applies to Mongolia's women; most people would have picked Guam to get through I believe. Either way Mongolia will be overjoyed to be there even if they're likely to end up only making up the numbers as every team knows they need to rack up a cricket score against them to ensure they have any chance of getting through.
Hosts already eliminated
In a weird twist of events, the hosts have already been eliminated from this round, by not managing to win the previous round which took place in Mongolia. It's quite odd to have a tournament without the host country having a team there, maybe the EAFF should just automatically put the host into the round where the games are, be that the first round or the second round.
It is obvious that the small teams in the EAFF need to get as many games as possible, because they're rarely arranging friendlies. Therefore with having a lack of friendlies it makes sens to have something like this going on, even if it means that a higher ranked side had to begin in round 1; it's just better having the team playing from the country that is hosting it.