Inexperienced Taiwan side fall to heavy 5-0 defeat in India

An inexperienced Taiwanese side fell to their first heavy defeat under the management of Gary White, losing 5-0 in the opening game of the Hero Intercontinental Cup to hosts India in Mumbai. With White being unable to call up the majority of experienced Taiwanese players based in China, he decided to opt for youth; in a move where the youngsters can build up some much-needed experience before they participate in two challenging competitions – the AFC U19 Championships and the U23 Asian Games.

That inexperience gap told right throughout the match, with India controlling the game from start to finish. A lot can still be taken from a game like that, the players will be gutted and it wasn’t a good night but how will they bounce back in the next match against New Zealand? Every team the world over suffers big defeats from time to time and the transformation since Gary White and his coaching staff arrived on the island has been nothing short of miraculous. Now this young squad have seen what is needed to make the next step up first hand, and that’s where their character comes into the equation because these Taiwanese players have the quality to make the step up, they now have the guidance in an excellent manager and coaching staff, hopefully the association will keep pushing in the right direction too.

Where Taiwan is lacking though is domestic competition, the local league and clubs are starting to pull together to make Taiwan a better footballing country overall, but this will never happen overnight and can be thrown into the box labelled slow burn. The key question though is will football in Taiwan be allowed to grow at the rate of slow burn, or will this kind of results affect the support for the national team, as stupid as it sounds it could happen. Let’s hope those in charge of funding and development keep listening to White when he keeps banging the drum of explanation that development takes time.

And that domestic competition is where the gap between these two nations lay, Indian players, have a solid league structure and professional clubs. In Taiwan, the league only has 8 teams and they’d be classed as semi-pro or amateur at best in most other countries around the world, the level of competition needs to improve for matches like the one against Bahrain to become a reality and not a shock. Without the majority of the Chinese based players, and the rest of the squad mostly based in Taiwan it meant the youngsters lacked a lot of the guidance they would get from the senior pros playing professionally. Make no doubt about it, for Taiwan to compete regularly against teams considered ‘stronger’ than they are currently the domestic football league and scene needs to be strengthened or they need to get more players playing abroad in countries like China, Japan, Korea and even Hong Kong or South East Asian leagues if a possibility presented itself. However, it’s difficult due to player quotation rules of each country, with leagues in Asia allowing 3+1 foreigners to be registered. 3+1 means that 3 foreigners can be from anywhere but 1 slot is only for an overseas Asian player. This means most clubs will only import 1 foreign Asian player.

As it turned out Indian superstar Sunil Chetri was the difference as smashed in a hat-trick against a defence that struggled to deal with a player of his ability. Chetri was the one player on the pitch that the youngsters from Taiwan should be looking at for inspiration because he was excellent, and he has played for almost the entirety of his career in India. One other reason for the game looking lopsided is because India has a squad of full experienced senior internationals and Taiwan have a team preparing for the U19AFC Championships and U23 Asian Games which means it could be considered close enough to the equivalent of India vs Taiwan U23 or close enough.

Taiwan’s youngsters’ next match will be against New Zealand on June 5th, it is time for the leaders and characters within the squad to make sure they stand up and make people take notice of Taiwan as an improving Asian side battling to break the top 100.

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