Gary White is bang on the money in his assessment of the Indian national team
Taiwanese manager Gary White has said that India shouldn’t be bragging about beating Taiwan 5-0 in the Hero Intercontinental cup which just took place in Mumbai, India. It may come across as sounding like sour grapes from Taiwan’s manager but he is actually spot on in his assessment of the competition as a whole.
Indian fans, and more importantly football fans, in general, would do well in looking at each specific match in isolation because all are different, with different situations and reasons for one team winning or losing. More often than not you will see the internet explode in an orgy of idiotic posts like Sunil Chhetri is now close to as many international goals as Messi. This was trying to point to some kind of similarity when there really are none. Chhetri plays against Asian teams, and we agree he has been excellent for India but if he played for India against the likes of Brazil, Colombia, or even Venezuela and Bolivia he wouldn’t be close to twenty goals.
Gary White has said some home truths that Indian fans don’t like about their tactics and reliance on their star man which obviously will make their supporters annoyed but it really is bang on.
Taiwan’s young squad gains valuable experience ahead of AFC U19 Championship and Asian Games
Taiwan couldn’t get most of their senior players released from their clubs in China, therefore they decided to use this competition as an opportunity to give the youngsters some valuable competitive match experience. Considering a lot of them didn’t have any caps for the senior side at all, making your debut in a competition like this in India will prove to be a big learning curve for a lot of them.
The sparse Indian crowd during the games created a partisan atmosphere that the Taiwanese guys won’t be very used to, as the league in Taiwan barely attracts anything nearing a crowd. None of the Taiwanese league teams has a following, with most matches seemingly being attended by family or friends of the players involved.
Not only was the competitive match experience a huge benefit to the Taiwanese players, but the whole environment around the tournament, being away from Taiwan for so long, the partisan atmosphere, and even playing against teams who have a vastly different style to Taiwan’s will hold them in good stead for the future.
Were Taiwan struck by first game nerves?
With so many youth team players in the team for the first time, the team was missing its usual leaders, Taiwan especially missed the leadership and guidance of Hangzhou Greentown’s Chen Po-Liang, and during the first match against India there seemed to be a lack of willingness from within the squad to stand up and take on his responsibility. I don’t think it because they didn’t want to be a leader, but to be a leader you need a certain character and Chen Po has that in abundance.
Yaki Yen was also a massive miss at the heart of the defence, he has been a man mountain for Taiwan since White took over and without much experience in the back line, Taiwan’s defence was exposed with ease by the vastly experienced Sunil Chhetri.
Taiwan definitely looked to have succumbed to nerves against India, especially after falling a couple of goals behind, the team seemed to be hit with shellshock. They struggled throughout after conceding a couple of early goals and never looked like recovering.
In the other games against New Zealand and Kenya, the nerves seemed to disappear and realization of what was needed from the squad to compete seemed to have set into the players’ minds. That was reflected in only losing to New Zealand by a dodgy penalty and then falling apart in the Kenya game when Pan got injured and the sub goalie came in.
To be fair to the sub keeper, I don’t think he has ever played a game for Taiwan before that incident and he probably wasn’t expecting to play at all until he was suddenly thrown in the deep end by Pan’s injury. After that, it was sink or swim time, and he sank but hopefully, he remains confident and learns from it, because Taiwan needs all the players they have to keep improving.
Sunil Chetri was the difference and White challenges India to a re-match
White is correct in pointing out that Chhetri was the difference, he also pointed out that when he was the manager of the Guam side who famously defeated India 2-1 in an Asian Cup qualifier that all they did was nullify Chhetri, and if he had his senior players he would have just nullified him again.
White said that there would be no way that Chhetri would have got the same space as he did against the younger players. Take Chhetri out of the game, and then India won’t have a clue what to do in the game anymore is obviously the mentality.
With White making bold boxer like statements we do hope that India will take him up on their re-match offer and play the game in Taipei, we presume the game would be used to warm-up for the East Asian Championship second round which will be held in Taipei.
I don’t expect India to accept White’s offer for a rematch as they will now deem Taiwan an easy opponent without looking at the finer details of who they actually played against, but if they do then India will provide much better quality opposition than Macau who Taiwan played last time around before the East Asian Championships.
Considering Taiwan’s recent run of form before the Indian tournament they will be desperate to try and get to the final round of the East Asian Championships which are taking place in South Korea this year, but only one team qualifies for the final round, and that means they have to come out on top in games against Hong Kong, North Korea and the first round qualifier.
White has provided Taiwan’s young players with a platform to build on
Taiwan’s youngsters have never before had these kinds of opportunities that they are now being given since White and his management team arrived in the job, one quick look on Gary White’s Wikipedia page shows that each job White takes, he also insists on working with the youth development.
Taiwan never before has had such a good youth development program, or pathways and White has obviously been working hard behind the scenes to sort this out. The hope has to be that what is being built will continue to be encouraged and not discouraged.
I firmly believe if Taiwan didn’t hire Gary White they would have never been invited to play in this tournament, there has been a correlation between him being employed and Taiwan playing more games and working more on development and promotion of football. Long may it continue.
Taiwan will now turn their attention to focusing on the AFC U19 Championship which kicks off on the 18th October, and the Asian Games which will be a U23 tournament for the football and kicks off on the 14th August with both competitions taking place in Indonesia. They will also be focusing on the up-and-coming EAFF Championship second round which will be played in Taiwan in November.