Friday, 21 December 2012

Emperor's Cup win leads to another Osaka Derby!

Gamba squeezed through past Ossie Ardiles' Machida Zelvia who were rooted to the bottom of J2 for most of the season and find themselves in the JFL (Japan Football League) next season. Shame for Ossie, I was hoping to catch a game to see the Spurs legend but it looks like the Ardiles experiment has backfired for Machida. We knocked four past Shimizu to progress. Special mention goes to “one for the future” (ie. expect him to leave for Germany if he fulfils his potential) 17 year old Takumi Minamino with a great finish for our first and his first senior goal. In the second half Hotaru Yamaguchi made it two connecting with a nice cross from Sakemoto. Kenyu Sugimoto settled the nerves further in an open game with a good finish in off the post. Speed demon Kurata finished things off calmly when he found himself through with only the keeper to beat. The score flattered to deceive but let's see if we can knock out Gamba Suita in the next round. Exciting stuff awaits this Sunday in Nagai Stadium!

Worth watching to see a 17 year old kid's first senior goal.
The Cerezo youth system continues to produce gifted players.

Last game of the season 2 - 2 and we are still in J1!

We could have been relegated if other results conspired against us and we didn't get at least a point against Frontale. So I spent most of the match looking at the updates from other matches in particular those involving our fellow Kansai strugglers Gamba and Vissel Kobe which reminded me of watching football scores on Ceefax (RIP). Others listened to the radio and the more prepared fans were watching streams from these games. As is turned out we could have lost and still stayed up. This is why the celebrations when our equaliser went in from our players seemed a bit over the top to say the least. When it might have mattered we were losing for long periods. When it got to 2 – 2 we were safe anyway. Overall the league campaign wasn't a particularly impressive one with managerial changes and us, inevitably now it seems, losing another star player to a German club in the summer. Takahiro Ogihara is lined up to sign for Nurnberg this winter too. Gamba and Vissel both lost and go down. This means no derby games for us next season and while I was delighted to see Gamba go down most of our fans were just happy to stay up. In fact most of our fans were/are sympathetic to their plight, but I personally enjoyed seeing their supporters crying! The other team at the wrong end of the table on the last day, Albirex Niigata, spanked the newly crowned and possibly hungover champions Hiroshima 4 – 1 ensuring they stay in J1. Here are the highlights and the rather embarrassing celebration scenes when our second equaliser goes in, seriously it looks like we've won the league instead of just avoiding relegation thanks to the results of other teams. On the positive side Tomonobu Yokoyama chipped in with two goals against his old club. At least his wild celebrations were warranted.
HIghlights, OTT celebrations at 02:45!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Congratulations to Hiroshima! We are in a spot of bother now

Well done to Hiroshima. A great championship winning last home game at the Big Arch for them. Now we have a small chance of being relegated on the last day of the season. Don't want to write or think about it any more. Bad memories of 2005. Something horrible could happen at the reverse end of the table this time.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Cerezo Osaka 1 - 2 Omiya Ardija

The squirrels showed more urgency in their fight to stay in J1 and deservedly came away with 3 points. Jin-Hyeon's positioning invited the first goal from a free kick as our players seemed happy enough to know that although mathematically we could still go down it's pretty unlikely. The good thing is the result leaves Gamba in the relegation zone. Today we are away to league leaders Hiroshima Sanfrecce so I'm not expecting us to come back with anything from the game but it's the J-League and Cerezo so anything is possible.

Novakovic takes advatage of Jin-Hyeon's positioning
Our recent form has earned Levir Culpi  a contract extension for next season, who will look after his Japanese restaurant in Brazil?

It wasn't raining

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Emperor's Cup 2nd Round vs Montedio Yamagata

Branquinho looked up for it last night with a point to prove as he's currently on loan from us. His corner was nodded in by Montedio's Maeda as our 2nd choice keeper Matsui came of his line and achieved nothing but helping to give away a soft goal. After a dreadfully flat first half where if you didn't know beforehand you would be hard pressed to figure out which team was in J1 or J2 Culpi threw on Sugimoto and Edamura for Kempes who was awful today and the lively but ineffectual Heberty. I was expecting these two to start today as it would've given them a chance to prove themselves. As it is despite Sugimoto's goal sadly I don't expect he will get a decent run in the team while Kempes is about. It's a shameful waste of talent especially seens as in the league we have nothing much to play for, start with them Culpi! Captain Kota Fujimoto's belter sees us in the hat for the next round, a goal from an unexpected source and likely to be the best he'll ever score, fabulous winning goal but overall a poor performance. 


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cerezo Osaka 3 - 2 Sagan Tosu

Another action packed game finishing 3-2, thanks to a truly woeful penalty by Tosu's Toyoda. Both the penalty decisions were dubious. Ours was given for an accidental handball which Kakitani remained cool enough to score. Tosu's was for an accidental collision which earned Jin-Hyeon a booking. So a pretty fortunate three points keeps us out of the relegation zone for now and it was nice to see the Sagan Tosu fans after they gave us such a great reception in Saga on the opening day of the season. Sagan Tosu are enjoying a solid first season in J1 managed by former Cerezo and South Korea midfielder Yoon Jong-Hwan. Kodama came in at left-back for the suspended Maruhashi but did little to suggest he could keep that spot. On Wednesday we face Montedio Yamagata in the Emperor's Cup which will see the return of Branquinho who they have on loan from us at the moment.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Crazy Kansai Derby! Vissel Kobe 2-3 Cerezo Osaka

Dodgy defending from both sides contributed to another exciting Kansai derby at the beautiful Home's Stadium in Kobe with 12,868 in attendance. We were two down after 17 minutes thanks to goals from Ogawa and Soma for Vissel. Fabio Simplicio pulled one back after some clumsy gaolkeeping in the first half as both sides spurned some good chances. The turning point for us came in the 2nd half and oddly enough it was thanks to our left-back Maruhashi receiving his marching orders in the 60th minute after a dangerous looking but probably unintentional lunge. Culpi took off the profligate Kempes for Sugimoto who promptly headed against the bar from a set piece. Simplicio scored his second from a well delivered Kakitani cross in the 73rd minute. Culpi then threw on S-Pulse loanee Edamura who scored a cracking goal to give us the 3 points and leapfrog over Vissel up to 12th and looking pretty safe. Enjoy the highlights!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Cerezo Osaka 3 - 2 Shimizo S-Pulse

An entertaining game, bad defending meant we had lots of chances. Kempes missed after a defensive error in the first minute and hit the post twice but did get on the score sheet using his head which was his seventh goal in the league. Kakitani continues to add to his goal tally this season with his eighth in the J-League. Star signing Simplicio made up for giving away a penalty with his first goal since his move from Serie A, he had an almost identical effort ruled out for offside minutes earlier. A great result against a S-Pulse team in transition. We're not out of danger yet but it's nice to write about a match and not say "we were poor" for once. Kansai derby up next and it's a big one with Vissel Kobe needing points to avoid being dragged into the relegation dogfight. Genki Omae with a penalty and Alex Brosque form a free kick scored for S-Pulse. Brosque has just signed for Al Ain FC in the UAE where he joins Asamoah Gyan. Shinji Ono also left S-Pulse to join the Western Sydney Wanderers as their marquee signing.
Fans behind the goal did a great job of trying to put Omae off his penalty

Culpi a lot less animated than usual after his return from retirement

Friday, 21 September 2012

Scary stuff, weather and Cerezo's Performance

Cerezo Osaka 0-2 Nagoya Grampus

The kick off was delayed as once again Nagai park was hit by a thunderstorm. We were poor despite the return of fan favourite and supposedly retired manager Levir Culpi. Ryo Nagai who I though could do well for us coming off the bench is on trial with Perth Glory in Australia with a view to a possible loan move. Nagoya showed why they feel they have a shot at the title this year while we showed our usual inconsistency. Highlights don't show the second goal by Kennedy but clearly show our terrible set piece defending for Nagoya's first. Some fans booed the team off at the final whistle which is not a good sign at this stage of the season. 

The light show before the game, the video below shows the Grampus fans
at the peak of the storm keeping dry and preparing for some happy
times for their team on the pitch later.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

More transfers!

Well we sold Kiyotake to Nuremberg for a pittance considering his status but we got a fair price for Bo Kyung from cash rich Cardiff City and their rebranding Malaysian owners. Branqhuino who has been average at best has gone on loan to Montedio Yamagata in J2. Also this week we signed Brazilian midfeilder Heberty on loan from Thespa Kusatsu in J2. He joins fellow newbies Yokoyama, Edamura and Simplicio. Here are a few of Heberty's goals in J2, don't get too excited, remember anyone can look good on a Youtube highlights compilation but here's hoping he can be good enough to help us avoid relegation.

Out in the Nabisco Cup quarter final 0-3 Kashima Antlers

We could have gone through with one goal and a clean sheet but after letting their star player Dutra glide through our midfield and allow him enough time for his shot we would have been fortunate to get anything. Antlers finished off the game with a penalty and finally a third as we played poorly against decent opposition as usual. Soares threw on Nagai and Bando to try and salvage something but the damage was done. After that things don't look too good for the Osaka derby but seeing how poorly Gamba are doing this season we may have a chance. The only good point on Wednesday was a chance to see Brazilian legend Jorghino on the touchline for Antlers.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Cerezo Osaka 4-0 Consadole Sapporo

This game saw starts for two of our new signings, Edamura on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse and Simplicio arriving after a few seasons in Serie A. The money we got from Bo Kyung's sale to Cardiff could well be going mostly towards Simplicio's wages, he's been capped once for Brazil and played 30+ games a season in Serie A which much makes him one of our best imports in recent years. He showed his experience and also the kind of foreign players we should always try and sign on his debut. He was dictating things in midfield and was telling players where to go, where to pass, and what tempo to play. A good debut but I think you would expect that from a player with his credentials. Edamura showed a couple of nice touches but couldn't really get into the game. The scoreline was flattering, Jin Hyueng had to pull off a couple of fine saves and earn his clean sheet. Sapporo missed the best chance of the game before we scored. Murata the speed merchant got a start today and the first goal from Simplicio's pass. Kakitani got the second and is showing he's got the ability and goals to keep us in J1. Kempes came off the bench to provide some glorious entertainment. He tried, but I think failed, to connect with a header and it looked like a clear own goal but he was credited with it and he certainly celebrated like it was his as he leapt into the crowd. Most people in the stadium on seeing the replay agreed it was an own goal and had a bit of laugh at his over the top celebration. There was more to come from Kempes though. Kakitani won a penalty and (the fastest I've ever seen Kempes move) before anyone could argue Kempes had picked up the ball and placed it on the spot. I don't know how good his Japanese is but even just from the atmosphere he must have known most people weren't too happy with this. Anyway fairplay to him for having the guts to try...and fail. His tame effort was saved by the Consadole keeper. This led to more complaining from our fans of course, it's lucky for him that it wasn't an important penalty or I think I might have witnessed for the first time Cerezo fans booing one of their own. Consadole heads were down throughout the 2nd half despite a decent 1st half showing and Kempes managed to tuck away his (possibly!) second of the game in what proved to be an eventful substitute appearance. So after a long run of depressing games (and not wanting blog about about them!) a decent victory against what we must remember is a team bottom of J1 with one of the worst records at this stage in the history if J1, oh and they beat us in Sapporo. The 2nd leg of our Nabisco Cup tie kicks off tonight against Kashima Antlers who we currently trail 2-1.

Consadole fans bravely sung throughout and for some reason
decided to congregate on the right side of the away section rather
than the traditional behind the goal patch of grass. 

Confused school kids help out at half time

Only in Japan? Cerezo ponchos were prepared for those
with a front row seat for the random half time summer madness

Kempes perhaps realising his eagerness to take the
penalty may have been misguided just before his effort

The moment I found out Kempes is in fact left footed, previously
he's been so bad with both feet it was impossible to tell

Monday, 14 May 2012

Last kick of the game sees Cerezo leave Shimizu with a draw

Yoichirou Kakitani opened the scoring for us after 15 minutes as Kempes managed to hit the post with an easy header as the Shimizu keeper Hayashi lost his bearings. Kakitani was there to knock in the rebound. It was an odd game, Shimizu could have gone top of J1 with a win but looked disjointed for most of the match until a late surge as they sensed the home fans weren't happy with the performance so far and the prospect of losing their unbeaten home record this season. Cerezo looked nervous and would have been happy with a point prior to the game but after spending most of the match in front must feel slightly downhearted. Bo-Kyung managed to make himself a bit of space for a shot in the first half but otherwise he and Kiyotake were relatively subdued. Kempes managed to completely mess up a one on one with the keeper, although he got himself into that position well, if he was more composed we could have come away with all three points (about 4mins into the highlights video). So with the very last kick of the game Australian Alex Brosque scrambled the ball home which left our keeper Jin-Hyeon down injured and our manager Soares upset with the officials. Japan manager Zaccheroni was at this game although he couldn't have been very impressed by what he saw.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Golden Week matches in Sapporo and a Kansai Derby

Pictures and statistics only for these games...too depressing to write about!

Consadole Sapporo 1 - 0 Cerezo

Yusuke Kondo 25'

More J1 cheerleaders a welcome distraction
on a windy matchday

Away support in the Atsubestu Park Stadium

Are they really Lawson staff I wonder?
Consadole fans enjoyed their first win in J1 this season

Cerezo Osaka 1 - 2 Vissel Kobe

Kim Bo-Kyung 40' Pen         Takayuki Yoshida 35' Pen
                                               Takuya Nozawa 69'

Penalty for Kobe

Penalty for Cerezo

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

3-2 again but this time Cerezo win!

Extended higlights taken from the mainstand at Kincho

Jubilo pulled back two goals in the last 5 minutes but the game should have been over as a contest with Kempes missing two easy chances in either half and Kakitani also being wasteful on one occasion. Kiyotake scored a lucky first with a mis-hit shot then another Olympic bound Cerezo midfielder, Ogihara, added the second as the Jubilo defence looked shaky. Bo-Kyung (heading to London 2012 with Korea) continues to play out of his skin though which is nice as he got our 3rd of the night. Some news from our last away game against Kashima Antlers. The plastic bottle throwing fans have been banned for life while the Cerezo team bus kicking supporters have been banned for five games. Next game is in Sapporo on Thursday as it's Golden Week followed by a Kansai Derby vs Kobe in Osaka on Sunday.

Jubilo fans in the tiny away section

Just over 12,000 for this game

Detective Conan's half-time appearance

Kiyotake with Kakitani, as Kiyotake goes to Nuremburg
this summer Kakitani will be looking to take his place.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Kashima Antlers 3 - 2 Cerezo Osaka: Kashima comeback Cerezo capitulate

2 up at half time but we left the Kashima Soccer Stadium with no points

Kim Bo-Kyung continued his stunning form this season by adding his fourth and fifth league goals this campaign with two first half strikes. The first coming from a Kiyotake pass and the second from a Kempes miss Bo-Kyung himself helped set up. We didn't look too solid at the back as both teams had a number of decent chances in the first half. The game continued to be open and Dutra pulled one back after a poor punch from Jin-Hyeon in the second half. Cerezo then entered a phase of forgetting how to do the basics such as defending and passing which so often leads to plenty of goals. Kuroki levelled for the home team in the 62nd minute. A few minutes later Bo-Kyung's reaction to Dutra kicking out earned him a yellow and incensed many of the Antlers players as they rushed to confront him in scenes rarely seen in the J-League. Endo finally secured Kashima 3 points for their manager, Brazlian legend Jorginho (world cup winning right-back), in the 85th minute after both teams spurned a few more chances. Great comeback and the Kashima fans should have been delighted...

This incident led to some unsavoury scenes and actions from players and supporters

...however at some point two Antlers fans threw plastic bottles from the stands. One was caught and the other escaped for now. The club will decide on the punishment later. After the game some Kashima fans were hitting the Cerezo team bus as it left the stadium, they may have been provoked by something Bo-Kyung did from on the bus but that can't be confirmed yet. These incidents are very unusual in Japan so we can expect some severe punishments for those involved and even some who weren't but are seen as responsible. There could also be some repercussions for Bo-Kyung too following his actions.

The team bus leaving

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Nabisco Cup vs Urawa

Worth taking a closer look at the team that beat the Reds 4-1. Soares may have just been resting the regulars but the players that came in did enough to suggest the manager might try something different for the game against Kashima Antlers today (No Kempes please!). Bando was a vast improvement on Kempes as Kurogi filled in for Ogihara. Kakitani also showed some glimpses of why he's held in high regard by staff and fans at Cerezo. As Kiyotake will be off to Nuremberg this summer we'll be looking to Kakitani for attacking inspiration.
Click to enlarge

Enjoy the goals!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Cerezo Osaka 0-1 Albirex Niigata

Just under 10,000 for this game which started at 7pm on Saturday which this season will be the normal K.O. time at home for some reason. The Niigata fans gave their usual pre-match version of “Can't help falling in love with you” by Elvis, good stuff and fairplay to the traveling support in one of the most unwelcoming away areas in J1 (in Kincho Stadium at least). Yellow cards aplenty in this game, mostly for dissent with a couple of bad challenges thrown in to the mix too. Our new gaffer Sergio Soares has us trying harder to play possession football but...again it might be too early for a rant but so far our new striker, Kempes, looks awful (despite his derby winner). He managed to put one header over and contribute nothing else. Our other new Brazilian, Branquinho (who hasn't looked too bad so far) was taken off for Kakitani and later Ogihara was replaced by Bando as Soares decided to go all out for the three points. We weren't looking too solid at the back at this point as despite having lots of possession, Michael, their lively No.10 missed an open goal in the second half. Jin-Hyeon also made a couple of timley saves during the game. Clearly we were going to be exposed as our main attacking threat Bo-Kyung retreated to try and fill in for one half of our Olympic bound defensive midfield partnership. Niigata sub Yano scored close to full time with a well placed shot (did Kempes,our No.9, see that and realise it's possible?). So despite a great result away from home in the last match some Cerezo fans booed the team although you couldn't fault the team as a whole or indeed the manager going for the three points at home. Next up away to Urawa Reds tomorrow in the Nabisco cup followed by a trip to Kashima Antlers on Saturday in J1.   
Our fans in good voice, the boos came later...

The Niigata away supporters on a tiny grass patch below a huge screen (they obviously couldn't see)
displaying Cerezo and Japan U23 Olympic hopeful Hotaru was worth the trip for them though.

Yano's 85th minute goal celebrations.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Spurs in action and a J1 update, COYS!

Spurs fans were in good voice but much like the last game I went to the away fans were significantly more vociferous. Van Der Vaart scored the first and set up the second from a corner. Swansea did well at the lane and danger man Gylfi Sigurdsson was...dangerous and scored for the visitors as well as forcing an exceptional save from Brad Friedel. Gareth Bale had another sublime game and when Aaron Lennon returned from injury in the second half and we immediately looked a lot more balanced so things are looking up for our last few games. Lennon crossed superbly for Adebayor's second.  My hope for this year is that Spurs can finish above Arsenal and Cerezo above Gamba and a cup win would be nice too! Back in Japan Cerezo picked up three points against Frontale thanks to a Kim Bo-Kyung goal in Kawasaki. We lost our first home game in Kincho Stadium 1-2 as Vegalta Sendai look like having consecutive flying starts in J1, Bando scoring our only goal. Gamba sacked their manager after a poor start to the season. Next up for Spurs is a trip to Sunderland while Cerezo travel to Omiya Ardija.
The High Road but it could be spring in Japan!
The White Hart Lane cockerel 

Swansea fans celebrate Sigurdsson's goal

Adebayor scores his first from a Van Der Vaart corner

Monday, 19 March 2012

Victory in the Osaka Derby!

Our first home gome this season in Nagai Stadium brought our rivals from Suita into Osaka. Until Saturday we hadn't recorded a victory against them in the league for a good number of years. Although the winner came in the 94th minute we never looked like losing which was an unusual feeling! Branquinho scored the opener slotting home past the keeper after a clever sidestep past the last defender. Gamba's equaliser was fortunate as it came from a free kick that was dubious to say the least. Jin Hyeon positioned himself for an effort from Endo but Paulinho exploited the space by delivering a well placed left-footed drive to the keeper's left. Throughout the game we had the better of the chances. Ogihara in particular knocking a golden chance over the bar from a few yards out. Kempes headed home in injury time from Sakemoto's cross. Until his winner Kempes was spectacularly poor but he got the MOTM interview because of his winner. Kim Bo-Kyung was the real star performer for us this weekend always looking dangerous on the attack and dedicated when defending. Our Olympic bound defensive midfield duo tired somewhat in the 2nd half but stil put in another good shift. Kiyotake sporting his newly inherited No.8 (following Morishima and Kagawa) will be looking to do much better in the next game although he did little wrong. The new Gamba manager had to answer questions about his job security after the game as Gamba prepare for what could be one of their toughest campaigns. Cerezo fans on the other hand look to have another season of unpredictable ups and downs ahead. Vive le difference.
This flag had another huge one underneath
and two smaller ones underneath that
as a beer girl dutifully pours in the

Gamba fans reminding us of a day back in 2005
 I can't recall exactly what happened...

Celebrating the last minute winner

A victorious post-match bow from the derby winners

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Away to Sagan Tosu

Sagan Tosu's first ever game in J1 ended 0-0 in the Best Amenity Stadium. They played well and had the better chances. Their fans were really welcoming despite the biggest police presence I've ever seen at a J-League match. Our supporters responded by congratulating them on getting to J1. The match itself wasn't a great one. We've got another Brazilian manager this year, Sergio Soares so two new Brazilians made their debuts. Our new no.9 Kempes didn't look too good at all but hopefully he's just needs some time to settle in, otherwise he'll soon join a long list of average Brazilians we get on loan. The other chap Branquinho is our new no.10 and showed some nice touches but again needs a bit of time show if he can add something to the team. Our two defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 were Ogihara and Yamaguchi who both did so well for the Japan U23s midweek to help them qualify for London (Kiyotake and Ogihara both scored). Hopefully their partnership can go from strength to strength this season. More chances for the youngsters needed this season instead of Brazilian journeymen would be nice too. Next up the Kansai Derby!
More J1 cheerleaders and another odd mascot
Our away support in good voice as usual

Kim Bo-Kyung hit the bar with this free kick
Friendly and enthusiastic Tosu fans