Sunday, 20 April 2014

FC Tokyo 2 - 0 Cerezo Osaka

This was sold out as I believe was last season's fixture at Ajinomoto Stadium. Last time we came away with three points, despite a goal from Hasegawa (now of Cerezo), Minamino and Kakitani scored in November last year. Sadly it was not to be today as our defence was easily breached. I feel Sakemoto will bear the brunt of Popovic's (who brought Hasegawa with him from FC Tokyo this year) wrath again after a poor defensive display. Both FC Tokyo goals came from his side of the defense as well another great chance to score sandwiched in between the two goals. We had chances but nothing is going consistently well for Kakitani or Forlan so far this season as they don't look like a strike partnership capable of rescuing us from our defensive frailties. Time will tell, there are glimpses of a footballing understanding between them interspersed with shrugs and complaints. If we can't defend we need to score more, pretty simple. We can't even use the excuse of being in the ACL as we have a pretty big squad compared to previous years with lots of opportunity for rotation of which we have seen very little. Two massive games coming up (with us in poor form) in China against Shandong Luneng to determine who will qualify from our ACL group followed by a trip to current league leaders Vissel Kobe for Kansai bragging rights.

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Thursday, 17 April 2014

We can still qualify! Cerezo Osaka 0 - 2 Pohang Steelers

Jun Ando started in defense today, another of our new signings this season from Kyoto Purple Sanga. We had a couple of half chances before disarray at the back let Pohang Steelers take the lead. Forlan got booked before Minamino got a straight red for a dangerous tackle whether or not it was intentional. Popovic soon lost it berating the fourth official and then the ref which led to his ejection. Forlan looked miffed on the bench after being taken off for the second half as Someya stepped in to shield the back four. The energetic Nagai was also brought on to replace Kakitani and Kusukami made his regular sub appearance coming on for Hasegawa who didn't cope well against Pohang. We didn't do too badly with 10 men but inevitably Pohang finished the game with a goal on the counter. No boos at the end, perhaps the red helped in this aspect, our fans were in good voice throughout. It didn't turn out to be a must win game either as Buriram's surprise win over Shandong has all 3 teams below Pohang level on 5 points. One game in China is left that could still see us progress to the knockout stages.

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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cerezo Osaka 2 - 2 Gamba Suita

Expectations were really high for this game which is one reason for the booing at the end from our fans but you have to give credit to Gamba and wonder why some fans thought this would be easy. This didn't help! Popovic lost patience with Jin-Hyeon's erratic keeping in this game and he was subbed after an hour. I don't think I've ever seen a keeper subbed because of their performance before but Takeda,signed as a backup this year, pulled off a great save towards the end of the match to keep things level. Wednesday's game against Pohang is a must win and it looks like Jin-Hyeon won't be starting. A crowd of 42723 (our third highest attendance ever) saw a brace each from Abe and Forlan. I have no complaints about the result, and it was a good game to watch, but we could do with more support during the game, Gamba fans were great throughout, and no booing after the game, did the players really deserve that today?

Related Articles:

Forlan the star in Osaka Derby (MARCA)

2014 J.League Round 7 Wrap-Up: Forlan and Abe shine in Osaka Derby draw (

Monday, 7 April 2014

Kashiwa Reysol 2 - 1 Cerezo Osaka

Kakitani couldn't convert our best chances as we went back to looking like a team that needs more time to gel. Forlan dropped back into midfield too much for my liking where he couldn't really do any damage with his long passing. His best work comes from being closer to the last defenders and finding space which he isn't doing often enough at the moment. We have always needed an old head to calm and inspire our young team as Simplicio did last season. Forlan however just got angry on a couple of occasions instead of leading when our heads were down. His quote later to the AFP that "They don't have to listen if they don't want to be part of it" seems like an odd way to express leadership though. Ogihara has gone backwards, much like his passing in this game, in terms of his development which is highlighted by Hasegawa making it to the Japan team training session while he has been left behind. I don't think Popovic likes how Ogihara plays and on this form he doesn't deserve to be anywhere near the first team. This was not the best preparation for the next game which happens to be the Osaka Derby in Yanmar stadium on Saturday. Kashiwa Reysol's goals came from Tanaka early on and ex-Gamba forward Leandro later in the 2nd half. Maruhashi got our consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game.

Related Articles:

Kashima beats Gamba to maintain lead in J-League (

Sunday, 6 April 2014

ACL: Buriram United 2 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

We could have had 3 points but for spurning a number of good chances. Buriram's first goal was a nice free kick but the second was due to a Jin-Hyeon blunder, let's hope it's the only one this season. Yamashita scored two headers from set pieces with the second bouncing back out after crossing the line. Yamashita,Hasegawa and Minamino, all uncapped, have been invited to the next national team training camp. Popovic accused some players of not taking the game seriously enough while at the same time allowing Forlan a break for this game.

Buriram United shop in the centre of town

Phanom Rung, shown below on the club badge, was spectacular

2010- (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thunder Castle/I-Mobile Stadium

Employees from Yanmar in Thailand helped fill the away supporters' section

Increased ticket prices for ACL games meant a lower attendance from home fans than usual

GU12 supporters in the centre where the team owner's wife was leading the singing

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2014 F1 Malaysia Grand Prix

Prior to the ACL game against Buriram thanks to some cheap Air Asia tickets I had the chance to go to the F1 in Kuala Lumpur. The sound from the new engines was different from previous incarnations, still very loud and exciting but not quite as much as I remember. Spectators enjoyed a Mercedes one-two podium finish and a Lewis Hamilton victory. Before the race a minutes silence was held for flight MH370 and Hamilton's victory was dedicated to those affected.

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