With their AFC Asian Cup qualification campaign faltering, Chinese Taipei have appointed a man who has a strong track record of success with emerging nations.
Gary White has already targeted a spot at the 2019 tournament in the UAE and is believed to be close to securing the services of a highly-rated UK-based midfielder.
White has declared that Taiwan have more than enough talent to not only reach the Asian Cup – which could spell bad news for Singapore – but also become an Asian power.
The former Guam coach produced stunning results in his three years in charge of the island territory – including impressive performances in World Cup qualifiers – and then went on to save Shanghai Shenxin from relegation in China last season.
Now he has his sights firmly set on ending the dreams of Singapore in their Asian Cup qualification bid.
Speaking exclusively with Fox Sports Asia, the Englishman said nothing less than qualification is the target for Chinese Taipei.
“This is a region that has a long history in football, including all the way back to the early days of the Olympics but in recent times the success just hasn’t been there despite the talent and it’s time for that to change,” he said.
“We have a strong local league with some good players emerging from there, but more importantly we have a core group of experienced professionals that play at a high level outside of the country and the message that I want to send to all supporters of the team is that we will be a real power moving forward.”
That initial challenge is quite a stern one as White assumes control of the team halfway through the qualification campaign. where they have already suffered losses to the top two nations in Bahrain and Turkmenistan, although they did record an eye-catching 2-1 victory on the road in Singapore back in June.
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The new coach will get his first look at the squad when they play a friendly with Mongolia before a huge baptism of fire at home to Bahrain next month, but the man known as the ‘miracle worker’ believes that Taiwan are more than a match for any nation in the group.
White said: “If you look at things on paper, then you could say that we are outsiders as each of Bahrain, Turkmenistan and Singapore have played at an Asian Cup in the past three decades whereas we haven’t.
“I don’t see it that way though and while we respect all of our opponents, having watched the team closely, I feel that we are a match for any of the teams in the group.
“When I was charge of Guam we had positive results against both Turkmenistan and Singapore so I know their strengths and weaknesses very well and I’m absolutely confident that this squad has the talent and the belief to be able to achieve our dream of qualifying for the Asian Cup.”
That squad could be about to receive a massive boost as White is believed to be close to securing the services of former Wigan midfielder Tim Chow.
The 23-year- old is eligible to represent Taiwan through family ties to the region and given that he has vast experience in the Championship and now in the top flight of Scottish football with Ross County, he could be a real boon for the team moving forward.
“He’s a young player but already with good experience at a very high level and as a central midfielder, he would be able to help the team both in attack and defence and act as a real compliment to the players we already have,” added White.
“If you look at the squad we have available, I honestly believe we are the strongest team in the group and I’m genuinely excited to take over a team of such potential.
“Having played both Singapore and Turkmenistan, I’m confident that our squad has enough depth to get positive results.
“Turkmenistan is never an easy place to get a result, but with Singapore’s recent poor performances we believe this is a team we should get three points against, especially given we have more than half a dozen playing at a very high level in China and several others in Europe.
“With that kind of talent, I’m not going to sit here and say we shouldn’t qualify, we absolutely should and it’s my job to come in and galvanize this group and help them reach their potential.
“What I want to say to Singapore and other nations in the group is that this qualification is about to get interesting and my team is about to show the rest of Asia just what we are capable of.”