TFPL Team Preview: Strong Chilean Influence at Taipei Red Lions

After coming uncomfortably close to relegation last year, can the Red Lions maintain their Premier League status this season?

Taipei Red Lions finished last in 2019 and only escaped relegation by beating Saturday Football International in a qualifying playoff on March 7. Reduced to 10 players on 60 minutes after the dismissal of Boubacarr Jallow, the Red Lions were able to win 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal for Lin Wei-Chieh.

Since then the Red Lions have brought in a new coach, Chilean Francisco Javier Arce. Arce is the former coach of Chilean 5th division club Curacavi and has brought four of his fellow countrymen with him to Shiling District:

Centre-back Matias Vilchez and midfielders Diego Ramirez and Esteban Vazquez have all arrived from 5th division club Aguara, whilst left winger Camilo Salazar has been recruited from 4th division side Mejillones.

The Red Lions have also signed American forward Josh Del Valle from college soccer level.

The new arrivals were certainly needed as Red Lions lost six players over the winter break, including losing Ben Ouedraogo and goalkeeper Luke Deming to league rivals FC Tatung.

Arce will have to perform a balancing act as TFPL regulations allow teams to field a maximum of four foreigners at the same time.

Guatemalan Gerardo Rabre, Gambian Pa Baboucarr Jallow and Brazilian Diego Loza will fight for a place in the starting midfield along the new signings. Whilst these limitations may give Arce some selection dilemmas, they should allow the several Taiwan U21 players on Red Lions’ books a chance for development.

Whether the Red Lions have a successful season will likely depend on their ability to improve their attacking output. Last season they scored fewer than a goal per game in the league, which was a huge factor in them picking up just 7 points. If their new signings can provide a goalscoring spark, the Red Lions should be able to improve.

Olivier Vidal

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