Taiwan's World Cup dream

Chinese Taipei World Cup 2022

The Asian section of the 2022 Qatar World qualifying will start this year, and we will start a section where we look at the World Cup dreams of the 9 East Asian countries (those who are members of the EAFF - East Asian Football Confederation). There are 10 teams in the EAFF but the Northern Mariana Islands aren't Fifa members and therefore won't participate in the World Cup. 

New manager, new hope - Taiwan's World Cup dream 

This year Taiwan appointed new manager Louis Lancaster (as you may have seen us mention a few times) and he will be looking to inspire Taiwan to reach the World Cup for the first time ever in their history. That may be somewhat far fetched, and it is unlikely that they will qualify but every country dreams of reaching the World Cup no matter how small their chances of success are, and no matter how low in the rankings they are, and Taiwan are no different in this aspect.

They have a good young manager in place from the start of the campaign, who is hungry to prove he means business in the management game which could work in Taiwan's favour. Lancaster has previously held a handful of different positions in football, from coaching youth teams, to being an assistant manager, but this will be the first time he has stepped into a management role in his own right. He arrives to manage Taiwan with a growing reputation, and if he can get Taiwan close to the World Cup, or somehow make them qualify then he will have proved to the World that he is the absolute tits of the management game. Managers that everyone bang on about such as Pep, or Klopp wouldn't be able to get Taiwan to a World Cup, and personally I think it is a task too far for any coach, so if Lancaster somehow pulled that off, he would become an instant managerial genius.  

An increasing number of players, playing outside of Taiwan

There is an increasing number of players who represent Taiwan, who have moved outside of Taiwan to play higher level football, or they nationalised because they are able to represent Taiwan somehow, either through parents, grandparents or being born in the country. This will help improve the level of Taiwan's player pool as they head into the mammoth Asian World Cup qualifying section.

The highest profile player of the foreign contingent to an audience outside would be Crystal Palace's, Will Donkin. Even though he hasn't made a first team appearance yet for Palace, that hasn't stopped some international attention and focus being on him solely because of being at a Premier League club. He has had experience at youth level at Chelsea, and now Crystal Palace where it is reported that his club rate him very highly. Recently there was news that Chris Coleman would like to take him to China, which we are unsure that it would be a good or bad move, or even if the papers have just put two and two together and come out with 48.

The highest profile player to Asian audiences is, without doubt, Chen Po-Liang, he is Taiwan and Zhejiang Greentown captain, he has played the most games and scored the most goals for Taiwan of any player, and he became the youngest ever captain of the national team when they give him the armband. Not many outside of Asia will know anything about him, but he is well known within the Asian football circle and if Taiwan is to ever succeed they need Chen Po to be at his inspirational best throughout every single qualifying game. His experience can be used to guide the youngsters in the squad too because he has a wealth of knowledge about playing in professional leagues abroad (China) and he can pass on what it takes to the youngsters. He is an inspiration they can look to, and someone who's the example they can follow.

There are a few other players too with experience of playing abroad, Chen Ting-yang and Wang Ruei have both just moved to teams in Hong Kong, Onur Dogan has experience of playing in China even though he has returned to Taiwan now, Chen Chao-an plays in China, Yaki Yen plays in China, Wen Chi-hao plays in China, there are two young lads who are playing in Swedish clubs although they may still be too young to play in these up-and-coming qualifiers. Then there is Wang who is playing in South Korea, and also a guy in Canada who has just signed professional, plus a Japanese/Taiwanese guy. The fact that more Taiwanese guys are finding a way to get out of the local league to join more professional setups can only help the national team to progress as the local Taiwan Premier League's level lags behind a lot of their contemporaries from other East Asian countries.

At their highest ever ranking

Taiwan is currently at their highest ever ranking, and this will only benefit them further in the pursuit of their World Cup dream. This means that Taiwan will not feature in the preliminary round of Asian World Cup qualifiers. The preliminary round involved the bottom twelve Asian seeds from Fifa's World rankings. They then get drawn against each other, and the winners move onto the group stages, the losers are out of the World Cup for another four years after only two matches.

Last time out, Taiwan just scraped past Brunei to enter the group stages of qualifying, losing 1-0 at home then winning 2-0 away in Brunei to secure that group stage spot. They went on to lose every game against Vietnam, Thailand, and Iraq but the experience they would have received from participating in that group stage was invaluable. They put up some good performances at home where they were unlucky to lose, they will no doubt be wanting to get some wins this time around as they've shown vast improvement as a team which was seen in Asian Cup qualifying especially when they managed to defeat a much higher ranked Bahrain.

Can Taiwan qualify for the World Cup, well anyone can qualify for the World Cup if they win enough of their games? Saying that it isn't realistic to expect Taiwan to qualify, if they manage to win some games in their qualifying group I would see that as a success and improvement that could be built on for the next Asian Cup qualifying. If they manage to get through the group, to the final group that would be a magnificent achievement which should be celebrated even if it still means they still wouldn't be in the World Cup, it would still mean the amount of improvement they have accomplished would be massive, and that things for the national team are actually moving in the correct direction for a change. 

If you reside in Taiwan, or outside. Go to watch them live, or watch them online and support Taiwan's World Cup dream. 

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