Taiwan coach hopes to stoke passion 1

The head coach of Taiwan’s national soccer team on Tuesday told of his plans to generate passion for soccer among Taiwanese by developing an aggressive and more exciting style of play.

“If you look at Taiwan, we’re meant to be the nicest people in the world, we’re so friendly, we will help anyone, but actually, now that’s changed because when we get on the pitch, we’re animals,” Louis Lancaster said.

The team’s new style of play emphasizes keeping the ball as close to the opposition’s goal as possible, said Lancaster, who took over as head coach on Jan. 16, after serving as assistant to former head coach Gary White from Sept. 14, 2017, to Sept. 8 last year.

“To do that, players cannot turn down forward passing opportunities,” he said. “In our possession, we have to be fast-paced and aggressive, and we have to suffocate the other team in their half of the field.”

When the other team is on the offensive, Taiwan would try to win the ball higher up the pitch, which would eliminate the need for too many passes and result in faster goals, Lancaster said.

“You can attack when you have the ball. You can break a team down and you can also attack when the other team still has the ball. So when I talk to my players, I take my wedding ring off and I tell them that it is impossible to talk about attacking without defending, and defending without attacking, because they always come together like they are married,” he said.

“So we want to defend high to help attacking, and we want to attack high to help defending,” he added.

This style has served Taiwan well in their past four friendlies against Myanmar and the Solomon Islands in March and against Nepal and Hong Kong in June, Lancaster said.

Taiwan tied 0-0 with Myanmar, lost 1-0 to the Solomon Islands, tied 1-1 with Nepal and defeated Hong Kong 2-0.

Lancaster said he would like to believe that after the four games, people would start to recognize Taiwanese soccer and generate a buzz.

“The whole vision is to promote Taiwanese football, inspire all the kids, get people out of their houses, get the big crowds — that’s what we want, but to do that we need to develop and create an elite team,” he said. “The players need to be capable of playing the big games and having their moments by winning.”

Another reason why he developed the style is to allow soccer to better compete with other popular sports in Taiwan, which tend to have higher scores, he said.

“[In basketball] there is someone shooting the basket every 26 seconds, so every 26 seconds there are people cheering, and in baseball there are 290 pitches. In football, the game could be nil-nil when you defend,” he said. “It’s not exciting, so our job is to give people a reason to come out of their houses by making it exciting and making it aggressive.”

For example, if someone enjoys a movie trailer, they would go and watch the movie, Lancaster said.

“It’s the same with us. If we are scoring more goals, and if we are causing teams more problems, then you will go and tell your friends,” Lancaster said. “If we can get people out of their houses, we can move Taiwan football forward.”

Taiwan scored no points in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for 2002, 2006 and last year, and were knocked out in the first round for 2010 and 2014, but the next World Cup is an opportunity for Taiwan to make history, Lancaster said.