Taiwan limp out of the Asian Games

Taiwan’s dismal Asian Games ends in defeat to Laos 

Taiwan became the first East Asian side to exit the Asian Games as they lost their final game 2-0 against Laos. The game itself was a dead rubber as neither team could qualify for the next round.

What should be worrying for Taiwan is not only did they not win a game, they didn’t even manage to score a goal. With rumours circulating that Gary White will be leaving soon, and the youngsters failing to inspire; then the future looks like it will have a bleak outlook and all positivity around football in Taiwan will be eroded

Taiwan needs a dose of Viagra to help them score 

In the words of interview legend Ian Holloway, if the Taiwan national team was a bloke on the pull, the girl they took home would be gutted because as an attacking force they were completely impotent. Attack wise, Taiwan offered nothing in all four matches they played, they never looked like scoring at all.

They need a big dose of Viagra from somewhere to help them because if they play like that in the East Asian Championships, they’re going to get shafted. North Korea and Hong Kong won’t exactly be quaking in their boots after a truly dismal showing by the Taiwanese.

One side they did play in the Asian Games, who they will be playing again in the second round of the East Asian Championship in Hong Kong and Hong Kong tore Taiwan apart in their group match at the Asian Games. Cutting through Taiwan at ease, Hong Kong were 4-0 up at halftime and could have easily been further ahead, but a combination of Hong Kong knowing the match was already won, and Taiwan obviously getting a massive bollocking at halftime managed to keep the goals down to 4. 

Taiwan needs to offer more attacking threat otherwise they’ll get battered often again, and then the impetus that football has gathered over the short time Gary White has been in charge will be well and truly lost again, similar to what happens after the World Cup qualifiers. 

Can’t defend, can’t score – a recipe for disaster 

A lot of the goals Taiwan conceded were too easy for the opposition to score, in the game against Hong Kong the first goalscorer didn’t even have any marker with him as two Taiwanese defenders stood nearby marking thin air. The Hong Kong attacker just had to nod in a free header from a few yards out which he did without any problems. 

Against Indonesia, it was understandable that Taiwan was tired after playing their first match two days prior to the Indonesia game, while Indonesia hadn’t played at all and that game was Indonesia’s first. However, if the manager knew that playing 2 matches in the space of 3 days was going to be tough then he should have rotated the team more and give other players a chance who should have been ‘fresh’.

Instead not much was changed from the first game where Taiwan got a very good point against a strong Palestine side, but even that point was very much down to Taiwan’s two centre-backs and keeper performing exceptionally well. 

So when the defence isn’t going well at least your strikers to try and hammer in the goals to drag you through anyway. Well if you’re Kevin Keegan that is the idea, but I have no clue what kind of tactics were employed for Taiwan’s attacking game. The only idea seemed to get the ball, hoof it long down the sides and chase it.

When hoofing it long down the sides and chasing it didn’t work, they should have tried something else, but instead, they just stuck with the tactic of hoofing it long, down the sides and giving chase like Forest Gump. 

This tactic is the one employed by every Taiwanese team, and it was employed by the Taiwanese national team before Gary White came in. Sometimes it can work, but at international level – teams, managers and players – clock on to your tactic pretty quickly and then counter it easy enough. Once the long hoof down the sides has been countered Taiwanese sides have no clue what else to do. What then happens is they are just effectively lumping the ball back to the other team. Also, it’s bloody pointless lumping the ball at one forward, I know they mainly played 4231 in essence, but the gaps between Taiwan were so large that the 3 attacking midfielders were never in support of the Taiwanese forward all tournament and therefore he was isolated against 3 or 4 defenders. In that situation he is never going to chase down a lump forward, take it down and control it, then skin 3 defenders to welly the ball into the onion bag. Taiwanese coaches need to try different things, because it’s predictable, encourage your bloody players to pass, and keep the ball would be a good place to start. 

The future doesn’t look so bright 

If this was the best youth team bar Willy Donkin that Taiwan could send out then the future doesn’t look great where Taiwan is concerned. There is going to be a huge weight on Will Donkin’s shoulders when Chen Po-Liang calls it a day that’s for sure, especially if no other exceptional young players are coming through. 

A look at the squad list for Taiwan showed that next to none of their players were from Datong or Taipower, the only reason for that could be because Datong and Taipower don’t have many younger players. If the two ‘best’ clubs in the country are not using young players then where are they coming from? They’re all selected from weaker sides in the Taiwanese Premier League, and that cannot be good for the future of Taiwanese football. Pressure should be put onto the only two ‘professional’ clubs in Taiwan to do more to develop and nurture footballing talent in the country. 

Other sides in the region are progressing and doing well at bringing through talent, Hong Kong looked good and done exceptionally well, much better than I was expecting, North Korea is investing in good young players, even though they’ll struggle to get them into good sides in Europe. We have seen through that Italian teams are willing to take North Korean players despite the current sanctions and all the problems that come with employing a North Korean national. 

Taiwan has the potential to be as good as both North Korea and Hong Kong but without infrastructure (I’m not talking about stadiums) and opportunities for young people to play against each other regularly in leagues and competitions Taiwan’s national team will never improve when youth football is more of a vanity contest than actually becoming a good footballer.

The next test for Taiwan will be the East Asian Championship

The next test to see if Taiwan is progressing or regressing will be the EAFF (East Asian Football Federation) Championship. I believe this competition also falls outside of FIFA’s recognized international window, so a lot of the players that Taiwan could be relying on will again likely come from the Taiwanese Premier League.

Hopefully, they can get the professional players from China, if I remember correctly the league in China might be over by then and that could be the reason why the likes of Chen Po-Liang and Chen Hao-Wei have had no issues in being called up for it. I hope I am correct about that because it is clear that Taiwan absolutely needs them if they are going to do well in that competition. 

One thing though that is currently unclear is who will be Taiwan’s manager when that competition rolls around, will it still be Gary White, or will it be this bloke who was in charge at the Asian Games. If it is Gary White Taiwan have a chance of doing well depending on if they can call up the Chinese based players, but if this bloke is in charge who was in charge in the Asian Games then Taiwan will take an almighty pounding.

The teams they will play against will be North Korea, Hong Kong and the qualifier from the first round between Mongolia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Macau. Before the competition starts Taiwan has arranged a warm-up game against Malaysia, and if Malaysia’s performance in the Asian Games is anything to go by, their youngsters are going to be better than their team who played in the World Cup qualifiers. 

When Taiwan have done well, they’ve been rightly praised.

When Taiwan have done well, I have been one of the first people to come out and praise them, but that means when they haven’t done so well or have been outright terrible then it also needs to be said. 

And Taiwan has been terrible in this competition, they offered nothing in attack and looked hopeless at times in defence. The only player to come out of this competition with any credit has been Taiwanese keeper Pan, who was one of the big reasons for Taiwan getting the point they did as he made save after save when he faced over 30 shots on his goal against Palestine.

We hope Taiwan improve and can get back to winning games like they did when Gary White first came in to manage Taiwan, but something is not quite right now with Taiwanese football. Talks of infighting at the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) cannot be helping, and spunking a load of cash on new stadiums or a government-funded pro league is not the answer because what happens when the government funded money runs dry? What are the plans for that? The culture around sports is what needs to be changed, the cronies in it for their own benefits or their own skimming of cash needs changed. Taiwan right now has big problems that the CTFA are trying to fix by whacking a bit of blue-tac over a gaping hole. It’s similar to trying to build a house by putting the roof on first, it’s all going to crumble in on itself as my granddad is fond of saying. Taiwanese football needs fresh leaders, away from the current cronies with their vested interests…until that happens Taiwan will always be rubbish while offering up the odd glimmer of hope from time to time. 

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