Tuesday, 16 September 2014

New manager Okuma keeps his 100% record: Cerezo Osaka 2 - 0 Kashiwa Reysol

Okuma kept faith with Nagai and Sugimoto up front and they repaid him with a goal apiece. Our first win in the league since May 3rd! The players clearly weren't up for working with Marco Pezzaiuloi or Popovic for that matter. I wonder if we'll get any Rio Ferdinand style revelations about why, but none of our players have a book to sell so maybe not. New, undoubtedly well paid, signing Cacau is injured along with our captain Yamaguchi who was linked with a move to Serie A before the World Cup. Ogihara looks to have regained some form now and Kusukami too looks to be reveling in finally being given a chance at a run in the team. As for the two chaps up front, great stuff which should see them both keeping hold of their places for the foreseeable future. Forlan made a cameo appearance after the game was settled. Sugimoto scored a header from Sakemoto's free kick and it was nice but huge questions marks over the Reysol defending as he wasn't really challenged despite three players being around him. Ryo Nagai scored in the second half. A very similar goal to the last one he scored in the cup as he was going away from goal but swiveled back to score, this one took a deflection on the way though. Be positive stay positive and win in Suita and we can start forgetting about the money Cerezo have spunked away this season and our current league position. A healthy 22491 in Yanmar Stadium thanks largely to the club giving away an enormous amount of tickets to the Osaka primary school kids affiliated to a local or school football club.

"Play Dirty Go Hard" and "We're Kashiwa Stupid" two of my picks from the Kashima Kashiwa banners

Indirect free kick so close to the 6 yard box, a rarity, always looks exciting but usually disappoints and this was no exception

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

We are in the draw for the next round of the Emperor's Cup! Cerezo 2 - 0 Jubilo Iwata

New manager Yuji Okuma started with a win against Jubilo Iwata who are 3rd in J2 and as we are currently 3rd from bottom in J1 that should make us pretty evenly matched right? Just over 4000 people turned up for this in a stadium that was used in a World Cup so you can imagine it looked a bit odd. Kusukami started and showed what he can bring to the team by setting up Minamino who finished well for the first. Ryo Nagai worked tirelessly all night and was rewarded with a goal he took thanks to his speedy footwork and thinking. Our injured captain Yamaguchi wasn't missed as we got our first meaningful win in a long time. Everyone put a decent shift in tonight compared to our performances in the league. I'm hoping Okuma doesn't feel pressured to bring back any big names, match-fit or not, for the next game on Saturday against 6th place Kashiwa Reysol. Kagawa has returned to Dortmund recently but in bigger news Mitch Nichols quietly joined Perth Glory on loan after a ridiculously wasted (first?) spell in Osaka. 

The unusually sparsely populated I4
This is what a world cup stadium looks like for a dry Wednesday night Emperor's Cup game in Osaka
Someone's sitting there mate
The acoustics are great in Yanmar Stadium so their efforts were heard
Lonely jobs, all of them, cameraman (or woman?), manager and linesman (or woman or assistant referee?) 
New gaffer Yuji Okuma gets nervous as he is surrounded...by drink bottles lined up and ready to spring the offside trap

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Kansai Derby ends 1- 2 as Vissel Kobe leave with 3 points

It's the hope isn't it? For so so long we looked comfortable especially after Minamino's deflected effort gave us the lead. Then Jin-Hyeon was called upon a couple of times to keep us in it. But eventually new boy Cacau, who had shown some nice touches, lost the ball for the move that led to old boy Simplicio (why did we let him go?) equalizing before we were finished off in injury time with Morioka slotting home despite an army of pink shirts around him. Changes in the management structure loom while I have to put up with Gamba fans remembering my insults as they slipped down to J2 and fellow Cerezo fans just worried, furrowed brows everywhere.

They left happy but they would have been disappointed not to leave without 3 points against relegation candidates
The scoreboard indicates why the Kobe fans were happy leaving behind so many disappointed fans in Osaka

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Pezzaiuoli's first J1 game in charge ends in defeat 1 - 2 Kawasaki Frontale

World Cup returnees Yamaguchi, Kakitani, Forlan and Okubo were presented with flowers before the game at which point I realised that Kakitani wouldn't be starting his last game before joining FC Basel and Forlan would be a spectator. This game was sold out and fans got to see the new gaffer play a 4-1-4-1 formation and give Minamino the responsibility of starting in central midfield. Never one to shy away from a scrap Takumi was shown a straight red. It wouldn't be a red in most other leagues but the ref could argue he kicked Oshima's arse then got up and shoved him after a bit of a tussle. A well worked goal with a tidy finish from the otherwise ineffectual Ando saw us take the lead before a soft penalty conceded by Fujimoto let Okubo equalise and sub Kanakubo ensured Frontale left with 3 points with an opportunistic shot. Kakitani came on for a cameo and there was the standard ceremony Cerezo fans are used to as he now leaves for FC Basel. He has promised to return as a better player but I don't want to think about that. He's gone now so until he comes back I don't care. The club stuck by Kakitani when we loaned him out instead of getting rid of him and he then promised to stay with Cerezo and win a title here. Perhaps I'm a tad jaded after seeing us turn into a feeder club with no trophies to show for all our young talent. Still, as always, things will be interesting here as Pezzaiuoli looks to reshape our team for the future.    

The fans behind the goal were in amazing form that the team couldn't quite match

Standard German manager's fashion style overshadowed by a banner about Kakitani and a coach with a schoolboy approach to bench use. The first kanji character means to charm or bewitch.

Do I not like that red card, although there is yet another impressive banner in the background.
Ryo Nagai prepares to come on

Emperor's Cup extra time victory 4 - 2 vs Veertien Kuwana

A very exciting but annoying game due to the fact that we should have walked this but the players weren't bothered to impress new manager Marco Pezzaiuoli and made hard work of knocking Veertien Kuwana out. Yamaguchi started after returning from the World Cup. It looked like Veertien would pull off an upset for large periods but I wonder how good they really are or whether we were just poor on the day. Jin-Hyeon was lucky not to see red and give away a penalty even though the Veertien player was looking for it. U18 player Masaki Sakamoto replaced Sakemoto at half time and saved us with two goals in extra time. For anyone wondering "Veertien" means 14 in Dutch. The Kuwana kit is similar to the Oranje one so is their name Cruyff inspired? Partly, it could also be because there are 11 players plus 3 subs and additionally Kuwana has a population of 140,000. So plenty of good reasons there then. To be fair a look their fixture list shows them facing a team called "Black Kitty". This win means we will face Kataller Toyama in the next round in August so I'll let you know what Kataller means then.

Kincho is no longer "Awaycist" as we have added proper seats to the grassy knoll that used to welcome visitors
In good spirits as usual despite a frustrating evening

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Victory with 10 men in Nagoya followed by a footballing lesson from Lippi's Evergrande

Yamashita got sent off but with both Forlan and Kakitani now looking increasingly dangerous in the J. League we left Nagoya with three points, excellent result. Later that day Spurs would lose to West Ham after Kaboul got sent off in an eerily similar fashion to Yamashita but Spurs showed no fight or confidence at all. I want the Premier League season to finish soon, which it will on Sunday, West Ham have beaten us three times this season.

A proper footballing lesson here. Everything Guangzhou Evergrande did was so much better than us. Amazing to see Marcelo Lippi in Yanmar Stadium but that was pretty depressing to watch. Particularly as I realised one of their best players on the night, Alessandro Diamanti, is ex-West Ham.

This is the AFC Champions League!

Incredible number of away fans

A big flag for a big occasion

Elkeson's penalty

Popovic and Lippi

Final Score

We should have known we were in trouble when a World Cup winning manager looks on!

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