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

23rd Aug 2015 Oita Trinita 1 - 3 Cerezo Osaka Away Day Happiness!

Took the overnight ferry called the "Sunflower" from Osaka to Beppu for this one. Hot springs and 3 points awaited. The "Big Eye" was used in the 2002 World Cup.

The "Big Eye" makes more sense from here

Bumbaclot!! Random and insulting. Well done Trinita, thumbs up for this banner.

Oita is not a convenient place to get to!

Looks like a UFO from here

The home supporters doing their team proud by filling up a big section

12th July Cerezo Osaka 3 - 1 Consadole Sapporo

Almost 10,000 for this game in Kincho.

"For the Top of Dreams"

Sapporo fans saw us on one of our rare good days unfortunately for them

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Avispa Fukuoka 1 - 0 Cerezo Osaka Golden Week Result

I'm pretty sure I went to an away game in Fukuoka a few years ago but have no idea whether that was in J1 or J2 at the time. I was either too happy, disappointed or lazy to blog about it as I can find no record but I do remember having Hakata ramen and the stadium too. Anyway this was certainly in J2, none of our managers ever place any emphasis on defending set-pieces and those chickens have come home to roost...or went away to roost in J2 on this occasion.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

J2 Away day finishes Kamatamare Sanuki 1 - 3 Cerezo Osaka

This game was over after 15 minutes. I spent the rest of the match swatting away some silly insects which reminded me that this is J2. As did the local flavour of things and the need to get a bus to the stadium. Anyway I remembered the last time we were in J2. So good to see Kusukami doing what he can surely do very well (in J2) after seeing flashes of his skill for the last two seasons. Will he keep his place though? Kazuki Ganaha scored the goal of the game for Sanuki after being teed up beautifully by Hotaru Yamaguchi (he played in the last World Cup for Japan). I was one of the few from Osaka not to sample the famous udon of which the "Kamatama" version appears on the club crest.

How far away is that? A short but steep walk to get to Marugame Castle which looks like it has a mustache, and glasses. 
Close to the Boy's Festival so the carp streamers were out on display
A Cerezo fan scratches his head as he realises it wasn't that far away, just very a small castle surrounded by some impressive stone walls.
Not a bad view from the castle although one of our group commented that the area on the right out of picture looks like Sakai City which if you know of it is no compliment. 
Marugame Mascots, this is Japan (in J2)
Ikkaku was the top ranked restaurant on Tripadvisor in this area. Marugame is also famous for chicken as well as Sanuki Udon. I found out on my 5 hour train journey that this place is a chain and has a shop in Shinsaibashi, the heart of Osaka. 
The Udon didn't make the cut for this poster of famous things in Marugame.
This mascot is working hard judging by the sweat/grease/oil dripping from his (bone-in) chicken leg head. The other more important banner behind and to the left could well be advertising a game between the New Zealand and Japan women's teams but I got distracted by the chicken bone header.   
Marugame Stadium
A nice stand there but...
...the grassy knolls behind the goals served to remind us all it was in J2

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Cerezo 1 - 2 Thespa Kusatsu Gunma

Second loss at home in a row (in J2). A great attendance of 17212 but it must be said lots of freebie tickets for various Osaka kids teams who despite their youthfulness must have realised there are more problems than answers for Paulo Autuori at the moment. Forlan's early goal only served to infuriate as we once again looked like the team of last season that consistently struggled against lower division opposition in the Emperor's Cup. Now we are in the lower division things have evened out. We still can't defend set pieces for toffee.

Very little power from the team, lots of it from I4, absolutely no glory for anyone in Pink.
At the time we wondered how many fans made the trip, now, if you like, you can count how many did and added to the huge attendance (in J2).

Bemused Paulo Autuori, let's hope we don't see this look too many times this season. The seats that were first used when Man United visited still bear the original stadium name before yet more money flooded in our direction and we ended J2.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Oh Dear. Cerezo Osaka 0-2 Zweigen Kanazawa

Zweigen Kanazawa didn't exist ten years ago but it didn't take them long to figure out that if they kept calm and played football, beyond the hype (in J2), we are more than beatable this year. Once they realised that for brief moments they looked like vintage Barcelona for short spells, we were that bad. Mesmerised by a team able to string more than a few passes together. Still we were treated to Sato's beautiful goal and then they were treated to a soft penalty given as a parting gift from Maruhashi to Kanazawa with love. What next (in J2)?

Just bad timing with this picture, there must be millions of better pictures of Forlan playing for Cerezo...taken by other people.
Kanazawa fans expectant after some nice spells and a wonder strike
Despite the best efforts of behind the goal flag waving this went in
Did Puma ask for a refund due to poor product placement?