Taiwan hold training camp, with World Cup matches postponed

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Photo: CTFA

Taiwan hosted a training camp for new coach Wang Jia Zhong to train with the players for the first time as manager of the senior national side. This is despite the game against Nepal being postponed until further notice, because of the Coronavirus outbreak which began in Wuhan, along with the rest of the Asian World Cup qualifying schedule.

Taiwan takes a look at domestic players

As World Cup qualifying matches are postponed, Taiwan decided to take advantage of this by using the time well, as they are running the national team training camp with mainly domestic-based players that include a handful of youngsters.

It's the coaches Wang Jia Zhong first chance to run a training camp as manager of the senior setup, although he has been involved at the CTFA (Chinese Taipei Football Association) for some time at youth levels and as an assistant to the senior side.

Some of the domestic players in the camp will be hoping they have done enough in training to put themselves into the new managers head when the qualifying does roll around, and with Taiwan looking increasingly likely of needing a pre-qualifier to even get into the qualifying groups for the Asian Cup in China, then there are still important matches for these players to get involved in. They are not fighting for a spot for meaningless matches.

Focusing on defence, won't change the outcome of Taiwan's results

Seemingly, a heavy focus was put onto defence, this is probably an ultraconservative measure after losing 7-1 against Australia, and 9-0 away in Kuwait. The match in Kuwait was dreadful, however, if you don't get your logistical set-up correct, then you're onto a failure before you even rock up.

Taiwan's performance against Australia does not reflect the scoreline, they were very good and had Australia panicking at times. Yes, it still looks like a heavy defeat, but some of Taiwan's play during that match was exciting to watch, and the ideas that were trying to be implemented into came to fruition in that game despite the scoreline. Considering Australia have players playing in top leagues throughout the world and are constantly a top 50 ranked team, Taiwan was exceptional that night.

Let's be honest, the majority of 'Taiwan's fans' wouldn't have even bothered watching the games anyway because of different reasons, but will have just seen the scorelines and ran their mouths off on twitter without engaging their brain.

Now don't get me wrong, losing 9-0 and 7-1 is awful, but these things need to be put into context. Australia is an exceptional side, with a professional setup, and players like Aaron Mooy who controlled the match from the first whistle, to the moment he was subbed out of the game.

Kuwait's squad is mainly domestic players, but Kuwait's national league - The Kuwait Premier League is professional and has been running since it began in 1961, giving their players a competitive environment to compete in, and they also have promotion and relegation, meaning there is a pyramid.

The other main aspect of playing in the Kuwaiti League is that it gives their players a gateway to other big leagues in the Middle East, like the Saudi, or Qatari leagues.

Therefore, it would be a mistake for Taiwan to stray from the path they have been put upon by Louis Lancaster. Yes, he didn't get the results he would have hoped for, but he got the team into a mentality of believing they can have a stab at attacking the likes of Australia with a nothing-to-lose mentality. Maybe, he was a bit too idealistic in thinking we can pager every one, but to me, that is better than battering down the hatches.

Wang Jia Zhong will try to tweak a few things, that is for sure. But, he will still come up against the same problems as every other Taiwanese manager has before him. The main bulk of the defence is made up of domestic Taiwanese players, with no experience of playing against high calibre opponents. The things you can get away with in Taiwan's semi-pro league, won't cut it against Aaron Mooy.

While at the other end, the strike force doesn't have enough threat to break down international level defences. I have no bad will against any of Taiwan's domestic players, be they defenders or attackers or whatever else. At the moment though, they need to find a route out of Taiwan's domestic league into a professional team where they can fight their way into the first team. This pathway is very limited right now for Taiwanese players. A handful have gone to China, and become successful, some have not. Other than China and Hong Kong, there isn't any other route.

If Wang Jia Zhong is planning on being defensive, and mainly playing counter-attacking football. He will find that the outcome will not change much until Taiwan drive a footballing change on the domestic scene. More people can get involved, and the game can become more inclusive, only then will any national coach have a chance of succeeding in Taiwan.

I will still be Taiwan's matches supporting the Wang, in the hope that he leads Taiwan to the Asian Cup for the first time in donkeys. 

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