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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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Cerezo Osaka 1 - 1 Omiya Ardija

This was played on the public holiday now known as Showa day (my previous post was wrong, apologies, Greenery Day is now May 4th) which encourages reflection on Emperor Hirohito's reign while also giving those on the extreme right an excuse to blast anything they like from the loudspeakers in their usually black vans in various places around Japan. So Omiya Ardija, despite the poor showing in their last home game, could have left with three points were it not for an injury time equaliser from Kenyu Sugimoto. Takeda started in place of Jin-Hyeon and he was given no help from his defense for the goal we conceded from a corner. An odd game, but again the type we should be winning to live up to our (unwarranted in my opinion) hype. It should have been a nice game to try something different, aside from the keeper change, but at least we got a point which is better than the same fixture last season. The superb Toyota Stadium in Nagoya awaits next, no predictions from me, and I have to mention for those in Japan once again J Sports has a feast of Premier League football on Saturday with Spurs vs West Ham first, followed by a chance to see Ryan Giggs as Shinji Kagawa's manager, and then the highest paid sports team in the world AKA Man City. Until then please watch the goals from yesterday as many times as you can. I think you can get to at least double figures if you are committed. I should have known better to be confident about the game yesterday as the squirrels usually seem to enjoy playing against us. The fact that some of our fans booed (again) at the end was mentioned in the Japanese media. Cheer up and enjoy the ride! Unless we get relegated...

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Sunday, 27 April 2014

Kansai Derby: Vissel Kobe 2 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

This Kansai Derby is always a highlight of our footballing calendar (when Vissel Kobe and Cerezo are in the same division) and this didn't disappoint as we put in a really good performance against an in-form side in the lovely Noevir Stadium. Another brace from Forlan so if you like you can enjoy a video of all his touches from the game. Otherwise the second video has your standard highlights omitting some key non-Forlan related moments. Apparently our next opponents, Omiya Ardija, were poor today so we can look forward to our encounter on "Greenery Day" the public holiday to appreciate nature but which the squirrels might not enjoy. 

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Friday, 25 April 2014

Shandong Luneng 1 - 2 Cerezo Osaka

Love didn't conquer all, although he did score the first after a ridiculous penalty decision. So, however unlikely it seems, we made it through!Sakemoto was dropped and our formation was altered but ultimately I don't think that made a huge difference as two nice finishes from two players we expect to produce the goods got us the points we needed to squeeze through to the knockout stage. Jin-Hyeon gave us a scare as he fell very awkwardly but played on and he and the rest of the defense proved too strong for Shandong to get back in the game. Enjoy the video and happy days! Marcelo Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande awaits us in early May. A Kansai Derby awaits us tomorrow back in J1.

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