2019’s Taiwan Football Premier League title holder seems weakened by the loss of big players.
The departure of Marc Fenelus to Taiwan Steel is by far the biggest loss of the winter. Fenelus is regarded by most as the best player in the division and has been an impeccable goalscorer.
Since his arrival in 2017, Fenelus has scored an astonishing total of 88 goals for FC Tatung. He has been a source of constant terror for every defender in the league. For Taiwan Steel to prise him away represents a real coup and underlines the Tainan side’s ambition.
But the exodus isn’t limited to Fenelus. Tatung have also lost Taiwan’s international starting goalkeeper Pan Wen-Chieh and international defender Chen Wei-Chuan, both also moving to Taiwan Steel after Pan’s move to Hong Kong Premier League champions Tai Po collapsed in January.
One caveat to the loss of key players is that Tatung still has good squad depth. “We probably have a better team than last year, the team is more balanced in every position,” explains veteran Honduran midfielder Elias Argueta.
FC Tatung still possesses firepower in the form of Ivorian striker Angel Samuel Kouamé (20 goals in 2019), veteran Taiwan forward Onur Doğan (14 goals in 2019) and Taiwan international midfielder Chen Jui-Chieh (9 goals in 2019), who all remain with the team. Kouamé will likely occupy the center forward position vacated by Fenelus.
To bolster their ranks, FC Tatung registered one major signing with Honduran central defender Luis Galo from Taichung Futuro.
Galo starred last year with the Taipei Red Lions before moving to Taichung in August, where he was pivotal in helping them achieve a respectable fifth-place finish.
Whether Tatung’s depth proves sufficient could hinge on their progress in the 2020 AFC Cup, where they will represent Taiwan after directly qualifying for the pool stage.
The Zhongshan District club will play home and away against defending Hong Kong Premier League champions Tai Po, defending Macao Liga de Elite champions CPK and the winner of the play-off between Ulaanbaatar City/Taipower and Kitchee.
AFC Cup matches are currently postponed until May due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If the season progresses as currently planned, it could be a heavy summer schedule. Argueta, however, remains optimistic: “I am positive that we are going to do well and get points, hopefully, even if it’s very hard to attain, qualify for the next round is our goal.”
If the AFC Cup does indeed go ahead, these matches could also provide the perfect competition to improve the youngest players of the team and help the team to a strong finish. Tatung will hope that they retain a strong enough squad to defend their title.