Will Donkin, the future star of Taiwanese football and Crystal Palace youth player managed to complete his first full 90 minutes for Taiwan against Singapore in Asian Cup qualifying since winning his first cap during the terribly fatal game against Turkmenistan.
Donkin made his debut in the must not lose the game away to Turkmenistan where he was introduced with roughly 15 minutes to go. He showed enough brief glimpses of what he was about to get Taiwanese football fans excited at the prospect of seeing him play for many years to come.
With Taiwan losing that game 2-1, the possibility of qualifying for the Asian Cup finals in the UAE also evaporated. This gives Taiwan’s English manager Gary White the chance to give youth a chance, and build a squad that will have plenty of confidence and experience going into the next World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying campaigns. Since that defeat, in particular, the average age of the squad has dropped considerably and a lot of under-21 players have been brought into senior squad training camps, or match day squads.
Will Donkin is one of the young players who has really stood out, after that game in Balkanabat, Turkmenistan the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) organised a friendly tournament to take place in Taipei. Taiwan would be joined by the Philippines, East Timor and Laos to compete in the four-team friendly tournament. This was to be another chance for young players to shine, and Will Donkin was again starting on the bench for each of the games.
When he was called upon by White, he came into the games and made a bigger impression on the fans than he did away in Turkmenistan. He was instrumental in building the attack with his fearless running at defenders and willingness to go past them, as well as being confident and controlled in possession. For one so young making the step up to the senior national side, he clearly held no fear of the obstacles being placed in front of him. With defenders backing off or struggling to stop him gliding past, he played his part in assisting 2 goals for the tournament.
His standout moment came in the game against Laos, he picked up the ball wide on the left wing and skipped past the Laos full back with ease, but the Laos full-back was slow in the tackle and brought Donkin down on the edge of the Laos box. Unexpectedly, Donkin grabs the ball, places it down with a look in his eyes that he intends to pop off a shot. The angle was not inviting for the shot, but Donkin with his determined look curled the ball over the wall and beats the keeper but agonisingly it clobbers the crossbar and comes bouncing back.
When the starting eleven was named for Taiwan’s last Asian Cup qualifying games it was a pleasant surprise to see Donkin would be starting. In his previous caps, he managed to show great attacking prowess or he would greatly influence the game after being introduced from the bench. With him getting a start, it was going to be interesting to see how much influence he would have on the game as opposed to being brought fresh off the bench.
Donkin drifted in and out of the game at times against Singapore, but that is likely to be expected of one so young, but even though he drifted between being involved he still showed excellent ball retention. When the ball came to him, he often made the correct decisions, the right run, the right pass or shot. With more caps undoubtedly coming his way, his influence on the team will continue to grow in the future but for someone so young to show the composure he has then it’s no wonder Taiwan’s management team and fans are extremely excited at the prospect of seeing Will Donkin tear up opposition defences.