With 18 goals shared between the four games and a home defeat for last season’s champions, the 2020 Taiwan Football Premier League began at a roaring pace.
Tatung, winners of the last three Premier League titles, were going into the season a little uncertain of themselves after losing key players over winter. Now that they are one game into their title defence, their nerves are likely to have been further rattled.
Tatung went down to a 3-2 defeat at home to their fierce rivals, Taipower, in the battle of north vs. south. After going ahead on the stroke of halftime, courtesy of Angel Samuel Kouamé’s penalty, Tatung were pegged back in the 64th minute by Taiwan international midfielder Chen Chao-an.
Next it was Taipower’s turn to take, and then surrender, the lead, as Li Xiang-wei’s 75th minute right-footed strike was cancelled out by Pai Shao-yu, who turned home from close range after Kouamé’s pass from the by-line.
After the equaliser, the game appeared to be heading towards a draw after Tatung’s Dogan was denied from close range in the 90th minute.
Instead, however, there was one last twist, as a ricocheted pass found its way to Li Xiang-wei in the final minute of added time. Unmarked and standing on the on the penalty spot, he could hardly have missed and squirmed the ball under Shih Shin-an to score his second, get Taipower’s title campaign underway in earnest, and deal a morale-sapping blow to their rivals.
Meanwhile, over in Taoyuan, title-chasing Taiwan Steel got off to a strong start with a comfortable 4-2 victory over Ming Chuan University. The Tainan side recruited aggressively during the winter break and will have been particularly pleased to see new signings Marc Fenelus and Benchy Estama finding the net on their competitive debuts.
Fenelus opened the scoring in the 20th minute, followed by an effort from Matias Godoy in the 35th, with Qiu Bairui responding for MCU three minutes later. Despite a valiant effort from MCU in the second half, they were eventually put to the sword by Benchy’s brace, although Xiong Yuan-guan was able to add a consolation goal in added time.
After the game, MCU’s assistant manager, Tseng Tai-Lin, spoke to Taiwan Football News. He identified that his team were slow to adapt to the pace of Taiwan Steel’s game, which disrupted their rhythm. Nevertheless, in a game in which they were always going to be underdogs, Tseng was happy to take some positives:
“In the face of strong opponents, these two goals have [given us] great confidence.”
Elsewhere in the league, title candidates Taichung Futuro also began the season with a win. They beat NTUS 2-1, with goals from Chen Ting-Yang and Hung Tzu-kuei enough to put the game beyond NTUS, who briefly threatened an unlikely comeback with a goal from Huang Zi-ming in added time.
The only side to fail to score this weekend were the Red Lions, who were thrashed 4-0 away from home by Hangyuan FC. Despite the scoreline, the Red Lions may feel they got off lightly. Hangyuan were wasteful in front of goal and should have scored more, with the side missing a number of chances including a penalty.
Whilst this result will sting for the Red Lions, it was in the context of having key player Boubacarr Jallow suspended and several of their foreign players being unavailable during to work visa issues. The Lions will hope the situation can be rectified quickly, or else they risk a number of similar hidings in the future.