Taiwan return to action next week against Nepal

Taiwan returns to Kaohsiung for an international for first time in a few years, where they will play against Nepal in a friendly. The southern Taiwanese city hasn't hosted a Taiwan game since the last World Cup qualifiers four years ago. There are some familiar and new names involved in the squad, as Taiwan ramp up their World Cup preparations with the group stage draws just around the corner.

Taiwan bring Emilio Estevez Tsai into the squad

Taiwan has called up Emilio Estevez Tsai into the senior squad for the first time, the 20 old players recently signed a contract with Canadian Premier League side York 9 after impressing scouts in open trials. Since joining York 9, he has played 3 times in the inaugural Canadian Premier League season, assisting 1 goal in their loss against Cavalry. 

The player was born in Toronto, to a Spanish father and Taiwanese mother, meaning he has quite the options open to him when it comes to international football. He will still be eligible to represent Canada, Taiwan or Spain even if he plays in the friendly against Nepal next week.

As Estevez is still only 20, if it looks like he is going to have a bright future in the game, Taiwan will do well to tie him down to the national side before one of the other nations he is eligible to represent do.

It will be interesting to see if Estevez gets any playing time against Nepal, and what he can offer Taiwan as they look more towards their diaspora in a similar way to other nations around the world have, and still do.

The return of Yaki Yen

Yaki Yen has been a mainstay of a Qingdao Huanghai side, who consistently produce good performances in China's League One. Yaki hasn't been involved for some time now, and it will good to see him back in Taiwan's defence offering the kind of stability he brings to the back line.

Hopefully, this means he will be involved in the World Cup qualifying campaign because Taiwan will need their key players if they are to do well in those games. Yaki was a key performer during the previous World Cup qualifying attempt which saw Taiwan suffer valiant defeats against the likes of Vietnam, Thailand and Iraq.

The national side has improved a lot since then, and in Yaki, Chen Ting-yang, Wang Chien-ming and Wang Ruei Taiwan have as solid a back line as they can hope for. All of these players are now playing professional football at clubs outside of Taiwan, therefore, they should be expected to form the base for Taiwan's defence considering the experience they are getting compared with local players.

Yaki Yen is at Qingdao Huanghai in China, Wang Ruei is at Yuen Long in Hong Kong, Wang Chien-ming is at Gwangju in South Korea and Chen Ting-yang is at Lee Man in Hong Kong. All these leagues offer the players a professional set up to play in, which is going to benefit the Taiwanese national team long term, and these benefits will be felt during the World Cup qualifiers, where Taiwan's defence will be expected to perform better than previously, as defending has often proved to be one of the major Achilles heels for the national side.

Key players mostly involved 

All of Taiwan's key players are going to be involved in the next two friendlies against Nepal and Hong Kong. Chen Po-liang is in the squad for the friendlies, and he is the first player anyone should look out for when Taiwan squads are named. 

He should be known as Mr Taiwan, with him Taiwan is a different side to how they are without him, and he is vitally important to everything Taiwan are trying to achieve. He has the highest number of caps, has scored the most goals ever for Taiwan, and was the youngest ever captain in the countries history. He makes the side tick and is club captain and a mainstay for Zhejiang Greentown in China's League One. If Chen Po-Liang performs well in World Cup qualifying, then Taiwan has a great chance of also doing well, because he makes them tick. 

Another Chinese based played is back in the squad too, Wen Chih-hao. The versatile midfielder plays in China League One for Beijing Sport University and goes about his business in a quiet manner. He often sits in the hole with Chen Po-Liang making things tick over the middle of the park, he does the shady work that other people don't often care about doing so doesn't get noticed as much. This role is absolutely pivotal for any side that wants to perform well though because without the water carrier you cannot have the extravagant players. Wen Chih-hao is a big player for Taiwan, and it is vital he remains fit and available for the World Cup campaign.

Other key players who have a wealth of experience in either league abroad or international football are Chen Hao-Wei, Onur Dogan, Wu Chung-Ching, Chen Chao-an, and Pan Wen-Chieh. These players are going to be vitally important to Taiwan doing well in the friendly, but they're vitally important to Taiwan having a successful World Cup qualifying campaign.   

The obvious two omissions from Taiwan's players, playing football overseas seems to be Will Donkin and Tim Chow.

Will Donkin could just be rested, he is young and has played a lot of times for Taiwan since making his debut, equally the manager Louis Lancaster may just want to see how other young players can perform, and give them a chance this time. As for Tim Chow, his situation is a bit more unclear, after what happened following his one call up for the national team. I do believe we will see Tim Chow play for Taiwan again in the future though after the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) posted about his banging goal in the Chinese Super League for Henan Jianye. 

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