Singapore Asian Cup rivals Chinese Taipei appoint new coach for qualifiers
Chinese Taipei's new head coach Gary White says his team can edge out Singapore and Turkmenistan to reach the 2019 Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The former Guam boss was appointed on a one-year contract this week, just after the halfway point of the third round of the Asian Cup qualifying campaign, and on the back of a 5-0 defeat in Bahrain.
This leaves Chinese Taipei in third spot in Group E, a point behind Turkmenistan and a point above the Lions, while Bahrain sit three points clear at the top.
However, with home games to come against Bahrain and Singapore, as well as a trip to Turkmenistan, White is hopeful that his team can still make it to the U.A.E. They will conclude their campaign when they host the Singaporeans on March 27 next year.
"I'll be taking over halfway through, but it's still a strong possibility [to qualify for the Asian Cup]," White told the Taipei Times. "We've just got to start getting some points.
"I've got experience in international football, especially in Asia, and I know how to get results. I want to try to motivate the players and get the country behind them."
Singapore have already been defeated once by Chinese Taipei in this qualification campaign in front of their home fans at Jalan Besar Stadium in June. They could face an even stronger challenge in Taipei next time around against a head coach who has an impressive record at smaller nations.
The Englishman worked wonders with Guam, taking them to all-time high of 157th in the FIFA rankings. His tenure included a victory over Turkmenistan in World Cup 2018 qualifying.
White has also enjoyed impressive spells with the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. He also had a brief stint with Shanghai Shenxin in China's second tier last year, helping them to avoid relegation.
Following his time in China, White was shortlisted for the England under-21 coach job, alongside Stuart Pearce, Phil Neville and Tim Sherwood. The job eventually went to Aidy Boothroyd, but it was a clear sign that White's work was earning recognition beyond Asia and the Caribbean.
It is a promising appointment for Chinese Taipei, and their Group E rivals may face a revitalised side when the qualifiers resume next month. First up are Bahrain at home on Oct. 10.
Paul Murphy has lived in Thailand for nine years, contributing to ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express (UK) sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK