Louis Lancaster gets first win as Taiwan manager

Photo: CTFA
Louis Lancaster took charge of Taiwan in March and has since overseen four friendly matches which have come against, Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Nepal and Hong Kong. In each game, he has stepped his authority on the team a little more, but last night against Hong Kong he managed to get his first win.

Building a positive record

When Louis arrived as manager of Taiwan, they already had two friendlies in the pipeline for him to prepare for, those were against Myanmar away, and the Solomon Islands at home. In the Myanmar game, Taiwan was excellent, and it was very clear what Louis wanted to do with this side.

Myanmar was shocked with the level of Taiwan's pressing and if not for some woeful finishing would have lost the game. Against the Solomon Islands, the pattern of play was the same; Taiwan was aggressive in their pressing high up the pitch, making the Solomons lose the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch.

Unfortunately, Taiwan lost the game to a penalty, but the penalty aside, the Solomon Islands didn't really threaten much and realistically the game should have ended in another draw.

The most disappointing game of the four matches he has been in charge so far was the recent friendly with Nepal. Taiwan looked like they wanted to try a different tactic of controlling the game, which made sense because Nepal is considered the weaker side, and find themselves in the pot five for the World Cup Qualifying draw. I got the impression Taiwan wanted to try to practice dictating the pace of play, which backfired a little bit, but at least they didn't lose the game with the match ending in a 1-1 tie.

This left Louis with a record of played 3, won 0, drew 2, and lost 1. The record looks a little uninspiring, but if you watched the matches you could see the difference in Taiwan's play and it was obvious that he would get his first win with Taiwan sooner rather than later.

The first win arrives, with a great away performance

After the Nepal result, it was expected that Taiwan might find it tough to come away from Hong Kong with a positive result, especially considering this was Mixu Paatelainen's first match in charge of Hong Kong.

By the time I found a stream for the game, about 10 minutes had already been played, but it looked to be fairly even. The weather conditions though were horrendous as Hong Kong looked to be suffering from the same torrential rain as we were in Taiwan. This clearly made playing the match difficult for both sides, as they had to come to terms with the difficult conditions.

Not long after I got the link up and running, Chen Hao-Wei put Taiwan into the lead, and my dog got excited by me shouting, "get in, you beauty!" To be honest, I have seen Taiwan take a lead in games before, to only then crumble when the pressure gets asserted on them. I was expecting this to happen in Hong Kong, and it did to some extent but the good thing is, Taiwan didn't crumble under pressure.

This is definitely down to Louis building on a positive attitude and working with the players to change their mentality and believing that they are good enough to win games. As the match went to half time, Chen Hao-Wei unbelievably added a second, meaning Taiwan went into the half time break two goals up. At this point, this looked nailed on to be Louis' first win as Taiwan manager, but knowing Taiwan, I didn't want to count my chickens before the eggs hatched.

Hong Kong assert pressure and Li Mao sending off

Hong Kong asserted more pressure on the Taiwan goal in the second half as they went in search of the goals they needed to turn the game on its head. They smashed the bar at some point, and I lost count of the goal mouth scrambles, with players covered in mud and dirt from battling the ball away in the pounding rain. 

Amazingly Taiwan managed to keep Hong Kong from scoring in the second half and hold on to win the match 2-0 and get Louis his first win in charge, since taking the role. This will be a weight off his back just in time for the World Cup qualifiers, as I believe he desperately wanted to get a win before the serious qualifying matched rolled around. 

There was some controversy in the game, with Li Mao getting sent off for two yellow cards in the space of around five minutes. Both the bookings looked weak to me, but the second especially looked to be a mistake on behalf of the referee not taking the weather, and pitch conditions into account. Li Mao chased the guy with the ball and went to make a tackle but slipped and as he slipped he clattered into the back of the Hong Kong defender. It was clear from the replays shown that he had slipped.

Li Mao's reaction to being sent off may land him in trouble though, he looked like he completely lost it. He was arguing with the ref, then booted a water bottle in the direction of the pitch as he went off.

This was followed by a member of staff from the Taiwan bench having to run over and drag him off when he looked like he was going to storm back onto the pitch. We are unsure if he will be banned from competitive matches or not, and will need to wait to find that out.

It remains to be seen what happens about him going mental after getting sent off. It would be a disaster for him if he missed World Cup matches on the basis of a slip. 

The main thing for Taiwan and Louis Lancaster, is they now head into World Cup qualifying on the back of a win, and for Louis his first win in charge.

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