Taiwan will play their first game in the Asian Games against Palestine which is now played 2 days earlier than the original schedule because of the Asian Games committee forgetting to add Palestine and UAE to the draw.
Also, Iraq has pulled out of the tournament due to internal issues over some members of the Iraqi FA intentionally sending overage players to youth tournaments.
Therefore the schedule has been all over the place, and it has made it hard to find out who is playing who and when with not many details being shared by the organisers of the tournament.
Now it has all been finalized and someone has kindly added the schedule to Wikipedia making it easy to follow. A quick look at it, and it became clear that Taiwan will now be playing Palestine instead of hosts Indonesia on the opening matchday. However, still being in the same group as the hosts are brilliant and when they do play them two days later the atmosphere will be bouncing, hostile, and fiercely one-sided.
A great experience for Taiwan’s players
A lot of Taiwan’s younger players won’t have any experience of playing in such a hostile atmosphere, Indonesians are renowned in Asia for how passionate they can be, and for how many people turn up to watch their national team.
For Taiwan’s game against Indonesia, the atmosphere will be unreal, and there is nothing that can be compared to that currently in Taiwan, nor will there be anything like that in the foreseeable future.
The Asian World Cup Qualifying section is so diverse which is to be expected from being the biggest continent that it throws up the possibility of playing in some very intimidating atmospheres as well as laid-back island nations. Fans of Iran, Vietnam, Thailand and many others can create a menacing atmosphere where lesser Asian sides with no experience of such an atmosphere can crumble. For that reason no matter the outcome of this match, it is vital for Taiwan to experience these occasions because it is impossible to replicate something like that in a training environment.
Taiwan can punch above their weight
Make no doubt about it, Taiwan has the potential to punch above their weight in this tournament. With it being a U23 tournament with each team allowed to add three overage players to their squad than any outcome is possible.
Taiwan’s group though looks very open, albeit on paper and everyone knows that football isn’t really played on paper. Hong Kong, Laos, Taiwan and Palestine will all think they can beat each other and will be feeling confident going into the games. There is no reason why they can’t shock Indonesia either, but Indonesia is likely to be considered the favourites to win the group.
Taiwan arguably plays the toughest two games first – Palestine then Indonesia, so if they get through this with a few points in the bag, then they will be thinking they have given themselves every opportunity of getting into the next round by getting the points needed to achieve that against Laos and Hong Kong.
Will Gary White still be in charge after the Asian Games?
Taiwan has been preparing well for tournaments since Gary White and his team took over, but it remains unclear if he will stay with Taiwan or take a quick hop over the water to become the next manager of Hong Kong.
The Taiwanese players will be hoping he stays in our opinion because of the progress they have been making as players since he was appointed. They came within a whisker of qualifying for the Asian Cup, and with the East Asian Championships, and World Cup Qualifiers quickly following this competition Taiwan will be hoping to gain some momentum. If Gary White stays they can have every chance of getting to the final round of the East Asian Championships, while they could potentially do very well in World Cup Qualifiers depending on the draw.
If the Gary White issue isn’t resolved and he does end up moving on to Hong Kong, then we suspect that Taiwan could most possibly regress but that would be dependant on who the CTFA got in as a replacement. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because we would love to see how far Taiwan could go in a competition with Gary White as the boss from the start of a qualifying campaign rather than the middle.
Taiwanese TV and media should offer more support to the national team
Taiwanese TV stations should hang their head in shame, as of writing this I have not found anywhere that will be showing the Asian Games. We do understand that it isn’t the most popular sport in Taiwan but people are interested in supporting the national team of any sport here because Taiwan is an extremely patriotic country.
We believe that the media should support athletes including football who are representing the national team, and this would help offer exposure to athletes, and their sports in turn hopefully generating interest and more sponsorship.
It’s embarrassing when the national team is playing in a continental tournament but it cannot be watched on any TV channel. There aren’t many other countries throughout the world where this would happen.
However, we will be keeping our ears to the ground and hoping there is somewhere to watch the matches, otherwise we will have to try and get an online stream, and that was extremely difficult for the games in India.
Regardless of the results, these young players will benefit greatly from the experience of playing in the Asian Games, but they could be helped more by Taiwanese media offering to show the games, don’t be fooled by it being a minority sport – there is an audience for football in Taiwan.