Thursday, 17 December 2015

Club World Cup 2015: Club America 2 - 1 TP Mazembe & Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0 - 1 River Plate

I lost two tickets for these games but a match run by FIFA emphatically takes credit cards (VISA) and it was worth it. The normally calm and expert beer pourers were mobbed, the shops closest to the River Plate Ultras sold out of draught beer and the Argentinians supporters did themselves proud. The first game showed TP (stands for Tout Puissant meaning 'Almighty' which shows the roots of the team from the Benedictine monks) Mazembe have a lot to offer the competition as do Club America but it was more like a friendly as throughout the River Plate fans chanted about their Copa Libertadores victory which got them here. Hiroshima were spot on with their tactics but an unfortunate error by their keeper meant the River fans left happy, drunk and the stadium was largely unscathed, only the beer pourers mental state was affected. I can't wait for the next time this competition is held here, when you notice some fans carrying bog rolls you know you're in for a treat.

Not a good picture as the stadium was rocking, literally AC/DC for some reason, but from the away end the tallest building in Japan, Abeno Harukas, can be seen

Club America supporters vastly outnumbering TP Mazembe fans

I was wondering about this before the game but...flair play to the River fans they brought flares

2 flares to be precise but again flair play to them

The moment I realised the planned Hiroshima stadium project (which looked amazing) had been cancelled

Hiroshima fans can be proud of their team if not the result, I usually praise any away fans that make the trip but the River Plate fans displayed a new level of dedication 

So many flags and banners, did they have room in their suitcases for anything else? A rooster suit?

At the bottom of this picture, it looks huge, but it was one of many UFO-like balloons handed out in the River Plate section

Studying Spanish? Speak Spanish? Knock yourself out

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Club World Cup 2015: Club America 1 - 2 Guangzhou Evergrande & TP Mazembe 0 - 3 Sanfrecce Hiroshima

The Mexican fans weren't happy after this one. Ex-Spurs 'player' (did we really get 9.8 million GBP for him?) scored the winner. This was the first time FIFA has held Club World Cup games in Osaka and there was a whiff of money making around. The matchday programmes were more expensive than the tickets. Yanmar Stadium reverted to Nagai Stadium or Osaka Nagai Stadium which meant the massive Yanmar sign on the stadium was painted over. The tickets were very reasonable though with the cheapest starting at ¥2000. This was some of the best football I had seen in the stadium for a long time, mainly because Cerezo weren't playing. Evergrande showed their riches with Robinho starting, their 2nd World Cup winning coach, Scolari (he won the Japan/Korea 2002 WC with Brazil) patrolling the dugout and the club even giving out free football tops to fans. Thank you for taking Paulinho from Spurs.  

Celebrating the win, when they were quiet you could hear a pin drop but when they got going it was quite the racket 

Club America's custom flags for made for Japan 

Someone managed to bring this one from Mexico

Hiroshima fans started to take up seats for their game as the Guangzhou supporters filed out

Lots of Guangzhou Evergrande support, many with free kits from their generous team

6th December Playoff Final: Avispa Fukuoka 1 - 1 Cerezo Osaka

How did we get here? Well we drew the playoff semi-final 0-0 (of course) with FC Ehime which meant that we "won" by virtue of finishing above them in the regular season (can you see where this is going?). So we needed to win the final to go up. I was one of the few (perhaps the only) Cerezo fans (there were almost 30,000) who genuinely wanted us to lose. Why? We have been rubbish all season and I'm pretty sure we'd come straight back down. We finished 15 points behind Fukuoka who had a storming season. We played both these playoff games in our home stadium when it should be played on a neutral ground which annoyed a lot of J. League supporters. At this point Paulo Autuori had resigned and Kiyoshi Okuma was at the helm. I was happy to be in J2 another year, Fukuoka deserve it and at least stand a chance of staying in J1. Hopefully we can learn how to put a run together and finish in the automatic promotion spots next year. 

Our fans have been great all season, unfortunately the team has not, we belong in J2

Plenty of Fukuoka fans happy with the 1-1 victory. All the best in J1!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

23rd November 2015: Moniwa steps up Cerezo Osaka 2 - 0 Tokyo Verdy

We needed this win to keep us on course for an undeserved playoff spot and Moniwa, who had hardly started this season after returning from Bangkok Glass, got a brace to lift spirits at the fag end of the season. Over 12,000 on this rainy day in Kincho.

I got distracted, it was still a pretty bad game, and ended up using Jermain Defoe's arm to point out some nice nail art

Pink ponchos were required today

Tokyo Verdy fans do well to fill the away section

25th Oct 2015: Cerezo Osaka 0 - 0 Kamatamare Sanuki

Again a very respectable crowd of just over 10,000 watched some dire football.

Passion, power, pride...all pointless, or technically we got one point I suppose.

Kamatamare fans doing well to fill up the away section

4th Oct 2015: Cerezo Osaka 0 - 1 Avispa Fukuoka

Bear in mind Avispa Fukuoka were the team we ended up playing in our home stadium for the J1 promotion playoff final. Wellington had his shooting boots on this particular day despite the worst efforts of the 3 Cerezo players near him. Again we were still averaging very respectable gates, over 13,000 on this day, considering the quality of the football we had to endure.

Again it looks like they didn't bring so many fans but it's a massive stadium in J2!

How do the supporters put up with it?

23rd Sept 2015: Cerezo Osaka 2 - 2 Mito Hollyhock

I don't remember too much about this one but Mito Hollyhock weren't one of the higher placed teams in J2 so needless to say it was another annoying game in the end. Almost 15,000 for this game. You can see a goal from one of our seasonal random Brazilian loanees.

Tashiro looks down over I4 in Yanmar Stadium

Mito is not an easy place to travel from, in the big stadium so it looks a little sad but I think they left happy