On Sunday, the second round of the Taiwan Premier League got underway, with Taiwan Steel’s home(ish) 1-0 defeat to Taipower the result of the round.
Both teams went into the game high on confidence after opening day wins, with Steel beating MCU and Taipower vanquishing rivals and current champions Tatung.
The game was played in slightly peculiar circumstances. With Steel’s home stadium being unavailable, the match was played on a rough surface that at times slowed the game down.
On another day, Steel could have scored at least five or six goals, with the home side coming within inches of scoring twice in the first ten minutes alone.
Instead, however, a combination of poor finishing, quality goalkeeping and a marginal offside decision denied Steel the breakthrough their attacking play merited.
After star forwards Marc Fenelus and Benchy Estama had missed presentable opportunities, with Benchy firing straight at ‘keeper Chiu Yu-Hung when one-on-one and Fenelus firing wide after rounding Chiu in the 17th minute, Taipower punished them with a sucker punch just before halftime. Chen Chao-An got across his man to power a header into the bottom left corner, leaving the home side stunned.
Despite the best efforts of Steel to remedy the situation, Taipower were able to hold out and secure a win that must give them belief that, even at this early stage, they are capable of going the distance this time round.
Speaking to Taiwan Football News after the game, Fenelus and Benchy rued the missed opportunities. Benchy was particularly down, stating: “We lost because of me. I missed too many chances.”
Fenelus was similarly blunt in his analysis, telling us: “We had about five or six clear chances to put the game away but we didn’t… at the end of the day, we only have ourselves to blame for the loss, this is football and credit to the opposite team.”
While Benchy and Fenelus will regret missed chances, Steel should at least take confidence from how well the two players appear to be understanding each other so early in the season.
The two combined a number of times and, despite the poor day at the office in front of goal, the game provided more than enough evidence that they will be an extremely dangerous strike partnership as the season progresses. “We have a very good understanding on the field [and] we have a good relationship, especially off the pitch,” Fenelus commented.
Elsewhere, Red Lions FC suffered their second consecutive 4-0 defeat, this time at the hands of Tatung.
Tatung took the lead early, through an excellent free kick from Angel Samuel Kouamé, who found the top right corner from around 44 yards. From there, Tatung were able to pick off Red Lions with relative ease as Kouamé’s second goal and a tap-in for Ben Ouedraogo following a defensive mix up effectively settled the game before halftime.
The second half, devoid of any sense of competition, was played at a far slower pace. A well-taken left-footed effort from the excellent Kouamé finished the rout and sealed his hat-trick, as Tatung bounced back from the disappointment of last week’s defeat.
Over in New Taipei, Hang Yuan FC and Taichung Futuro both maintained their undefeated status with an entertaining 1-1 draw.
Futuro’s Taiwan international striker Li Mao made the breakthrough in the 12th minute with a spectacular long-range effort on his left, before Wu Yen-Shu responded for Hang Yuan in the 66th minute with a hopeful shot that Futuro’s Yu Tuan could only fumble into the goal.
In the day’s other game, NTUS and MCU registered their first point of the season as they played out a 2-2 draw in Taichung. Both sides came from behind in an end to end game that helped both teams to inch away from the automatic relegation zone.