vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (ratings)   Leave a comment

Pusnik took responsibility off the players after the match by taking the blame for the performance; I hope the players come out and give him a big win and changed attitude next week as it was a horrible game by nearly everyone filled with numerous individual errors and 20 minutes in which the whole team had lost their head.
One defeat doesn’t make the start of the season bad straight away, but they need to bounce back straight away with the games over Golden Week and just put it down as a bad day at the office.

Kamiyama: 2.5
He has won us the game with a string of saves in the last few games but was terrible in this game, having a part in all of the goals conceded. Will be most embarrassed by the 3rd which he pushed inside the post.

Abe: 4.5
Battled until the end and was trying to get forward, but caught out of position and struggling to get back for a couple of goals.

Oh: 3
Had another chance to show the manager he is an option at right-back but blew it. Looked better going forward, but was in the team primarily as someone a bit stronger in defence.

Tsutsumi: 5
Kept us in the game in the first 10 minutes with a couple of excellent tackles, but then lost his head for 30 minutes. Stepped up and got better in the second half.

Lee: 5
Similar to Tsutsumi. The best thing he can do is to know his limitations, not try to pass the ball expansively and play a “What If?” game; what if the pass I’m trying to play goes wrong?

Nakahara : 4
Had a really hard job playing as the only midfielder for a lot of the time in the first half. Does his best work when doing short, simple passes. Tries to do long, diagonal passes from an anchor position, but Tsutsumi is actually better than him at these and he should be looking to play higher up the pitch where he is more effective.

Sakata : 5.5
Kept running. In the correct set-up he is on his way to re-inventing himself as a midfielder in the style that Dwight Yorke did at the end of his career. In the wrong set-up he is horribly exposed and asked to do too much.

Jogo : 5.5
Still needs to work out where he is gonig to play. Anonymous in the first half; did very well to help out in a deeper role in the second half when helping Nakahara. I’d ask him where he wants to play and then give him the support around him to make it work.

Ishizu : 5.5
Like most of the players he was much better in the second half, but has to do more when not in possession. Needs to decide if he is happy with the player he is now, or if he wants to become the player he could be.

Hirai : 5
Same as Ishizu, but more. A few good runs, but without the ball turns into a luxury which few teams in J2 can afford. If he plays in the team we need someone else to play to do his running and tackling for him.

Punosevac : 3.5
His stats are starting to tell their own story now. I don’t believe strikers should be judged solely for their goals but he has now failed to score in about 9 months at the club. So many times in this game he was receiving the ball from midfield and passing it back first time to our defence.

Mishima : 7
Impressed coming off the bench. Exactly what the manager wants to see, someone who gets a chance and shows that he should be in the team each week. Linked up well with Kanamori.

Kanamori : 8
Showed today that he is who we should be building a team around. He has the inconsistency of youth, and will get better at decision making as he gets more experience but his energy and drive made the whole team step up. You could see he genuinely thought we could get the 5 goals back, and was annoyed to go off injured just as we got the first 2.

Sakai : 5.5
Did ok without ever looking as bright as Mishima or Kanamori. Offers another man to go into an attacking midfield/forward role, but why we needed to loan another player for that position with the options we have is a mystery.

Posted April 16, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (youtube)   Leave a comment

A real horror show from AVispa as they put in what I have seen described as the worst ever half of football in the J-League to go 5-0 down at half-time.

Points to note.
0s: A really nicely worked corner routine by Nagasaki, and a great finish from #7 but where on earth is right-back Oh? Watching back it seems he is covering the D, leaving a huge space at the back post. Nobody was picking up #7 at any point.
His finish was great, but Kamiyama should be getting something on that and is only beaten for pace.

48s: With the wing-backs able to push up Abe got himself isolated and out of position for a cross from the right-wing. There were still 4-5 Avispa players who had an opportunity to get something on the ball and clear (with Oh again being the most obvious), but somehow Nagasaki’s opposite full-back got to the ball first.

1m48: A goal from nothing. Kamiyama seems to dive in slow motion for a nothing shot and just palms the ball into the net. He always has a horrible mistake waiting, and I guess it is better to happen in a game we end up 5-0 down in, that a last minute goal to lose a game 1-0. (This was 12 minutes into he game).

2m35: Oh is totally shell-shocked and wanting to be back in his house; easily bypassed on the left wing with a cross landed straight onto the Nagasaki striker’s head. There were 3 players lined up waiting to head it in with only 160cm Abe giving any competition.

3m26s: Same target man striker beats 4 defenders and Kamiyama to the ball to head home easily at the near post. Avispa players have totally lost their heads. In fact Kamiyama looks like he may have pushed the ball onto the striker to mean he played a part in all 5 goals conceded.

4m12: Standard penalty by Sakata. These highlights don’t show the run and skill on the edge of the box as Mishima and Kanamori combined with Kanamori’s pace and quick feet winning a clear penalty. Kanamori grabs the ball after the goal; in his head Avispa can score 6.

4m50: A freekick outside the box ends up on the left wing for Abe to cross in and Jogo to finish well with his head. This goal shows that Jogo needs to be getting into the box, I’m just not sure how to make it happen.

Posted April 14, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (report)   2 comments

Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 5 V-Varen Nagasaki

Sitting in the stadium at half time having just witnessed the total capitulation of Avispa in the first half of this match was a strange experience.
I’m not sure if I have ever seen a home team losing 5-0 at half-time. I’ve certainly never seen it live before, and not in a local derby between two teams who had looked to be quite evenly matched before the game started.

It certainly wasn’t an experience I’d want to repeat, but there was something so bad about the performance that it suggested that maybe things would have to get better.
Had we been losing 2/3-0 then it could be seen as a bad day at the office, but 5-0 with our defence in total disarray means that things were so bad that definitive lessons about the team could be learned and will hopefully not happen again.

There were a couple of surprises in the starting XI, with the first of these leading to the first lesson of the day.
After the Jubilo game I’d written that unless Mishima picked up an injury Oh Chang Hyon had pretty much guaranteed he wasn’t going to get another game as a starting member but here he was just 2 games later back in the team. I could see the thought behind it; Nagasaki were possibly the fastest team I have seen in the J-League and Oh was the only Avispa player on the pitch who was able to win a foot race against his opposite number.
Against a team set up for counter-attacking it could be argued that a player like Mishima who is in the team more for his ability to get forward than his defensive qualities would get caught out a lot. In fact the only positive thing about Oh’s performance were his breaks forward. Defensively he was repeatedly out of position and leaving huge spaces along the left wing for Noda and Okuno to run into.

The first goal came from a very well worked short corner which ended up being lifted to Okuno at the back of the box. It took a really good volleyed finish to score, but I have absolutely no idea where Oh was, giving the Nagasaki player the time and space to choose exactly how to shape his body and smash the ball into the roof of the net from a tight angle. The ball was travelling, but from the angle I’d stil hope the keeper might get something on it.

The second lesson was about the front 6 players on the pitch. Against a team who play a 3xx formation (something we have struggled with before) which with a single straight striker appeared at times to have 6 players in midfield there were times we appeared to be playing with only Nakahara in midfield.
Again the rationale was fairly obvious, against a team with 3 at the back the key strategy should be to force the wing-backs back into a defensive role making the opposition formation more of a 541/523 with the forwards isolated from the defensive unit, with Ishizu, Punosevac, Hirai, Sakata and Jogo giving enough power up front to force the opposition backwards.
Unfortunately (with the exception of Sakata this season) those 5 players don’t really offer any ability to get the ball back from the opposition, instead waiting in attacking positions for the ball to be delivered to them.
This represented quite a big problem because Nakahara was the only player trying to get the ball back in midfield at times, and was easily bypassed by Nagasaki’s quick, energetic passing game. Even in the best of circumstances he is a guy who was training to be a school teacher 18 months ago, and at times still looks like it rather than the snarling pit-bull of a player which we would need in that role.

The game was effectively over after 15 minutes as Nagasaki were able to get the ball around half-way and move attacks into the wide positions where 2-3 players formed triangles around our defence and delivered quick crosses into the box.
The second goal was a ball which should have been dealt with by someone in the box, but was instead fired home right-back Yamaguchi who was somehow standing in the middle of the Avispa box.
A third followed a minute later with some comical goal-keeping of the sort which Kamiyama always looks capable of. A fairly innocuous shot was hit at the near post with Kamiyama diving in slow motion towards the ball and half catching it into the side netting inside the goal.

By this point the Avispa team had totally lost the plot. The defence were regularly passing the ball direct to Nagasaki players to run at goal, and at times when they did manage to get the ball to Nakahara he generally passed it up to Punosevac who either fell over, or passed the ball back to the defence.

Pusnik had seen enough and substituted Oh and Punosevac after about 30 minutes for what I would guess might be their last games for the club.
While they were waiting to go off Nagasaki scored a 4th, and I can’t even remember how I’d pretty much stopped caring by that point.

Kanamori and Mishima were at least playing with something to prove, but with the rest of the team shell-shocked were unable to score a 5th goal before half-time to ensure the team left the pitch to a chorus of boos.

The easy comment would be to say that we shouldn’t be playing games with almost no players who are comfortable in a midfield role (let alone games against a well organised counter-attacking team), but as I’ve said to people at the stadium, and on the internet since who exactly is the manager supposed to play.
Since Nakamachi left the club we haven’t really had anyone to play a midfield role, and the fact that whoever is bringing players to the club is perennially failing to fix the problem is a mystery.

This off-season saw the arrival of 4 attacking forward type players (Morimura, Hirai, Sakai, Nozaki) to compete for places in what was already our best equipped area on the pitch with Ishizu, Jogo, Sakata, Punosevac, Ushinohama, even Mishima all already able to play in that position.
Pusnik has already tried using a central defender (Park), and a right-back (Takeda) in the role, and there isn’t anyone else at the club except 19 year old Jang or clear reserve Chris who could possibly be used in the position, both far worse options than trying to fit Sakata and Jogo there.

The one bright point of the game was that the team kept playing in the second half, with Kanamori in particular looking like a man possessed, and the player we have to now build the team around in the next 5 years.
Full of running he cut into the box and won the team a clear penalty which Sakata scored, and his energy rubbed off on other players with Ishizu stepping up and winning a free-kick outside the box with a trademark dribble which was recycled and headed in by Jogo after an Abe cross from the left.

We had what looked like another clear penelty as Ishizu was brought down in the box, and it felt like an incredible, unlikely comeback might be on.
Sadly just as the feeling in the stadium grew the catalyst for the comeback kanamori had to go off injured with what looked like a broken foot having closed down and tried to block a clearence from the Nagasaki left-back.

With Kanamori off the pitch we continued to work hard, and did enough to give the fans something to cheer, but never looked like scoring.

Posted April 13, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. FC Gifu (youtube)   Leave a comment

Highlights of pretty much everything you might want to see about the game this week.

Interest in Avispa certainly seems to be going up as we continue to have a decent start to the season.

Long highlights of the game, with English commentary:

Video from in the stadium:

Pusnik not so pleased with the first half performance.

A good direct goal from a long throw. I’m very pleased that we have added a new angle for attacks with a long throw, it is something that many J2 clubs will not cope with well.

Ball recycled well after a corner and Tsutsumi makes up for being a little weak for Gifu’s goal.
He can run on the ball powerfully and I’d like to see him stepping out from defence with the ball more rather than just pass to Nakahara 5m ahead of him.

And for the really keen this youtube user has uploaded the whole game:

Posted April 7, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. FC Gifu (report)   Leave a comment

FC Gifu 1 : 2 Avispa Fukuoka
68′ Sakata,
82′ Santos, 85′ Ishizu

Having beaten Yokohama FC last weekend we went into this game with a line-up which seems to be our ‘away’ formation with 2 central midfield volante-type players in Nakahara and Park sitting in the middle of the pitch with the forwwards trying to press high and make runs when we had possession of the ball.
The player who made way for Park to return to the team was Punosevac, with the rest of the squad unchanged.

The first half of the game was a fairly low quality encounter with little in the way of entertainment as Gifu sat with men behind the ball and tried to set runners free with balls delivered from within their own half.
The Avispa off-side trap was working surprisingly well (by the end of the match we’d caught Gifu players offside a fairly astonishing 14 times) with the central 2 playing high up the pitch and the full-backs maintaining concentration to not be left behind.

It was a tactic which clearly showed why Koga (and Kazuki) aren’t really going to be able to be used this season. They may both be ok standing on the edge of the 18-yard box and heading balls away but the strategy for today needed defenders with a little more mobility.
It didn’t work perfectly and Gifu had a couple of good chances to take the lead after well-timed runs allowed them to run in on goal, but Kamiyama was playing well and able to sweep a couple of balls away, and then made himself big to block a tip-volley shot away with Lee Kwang Seon getting back to head a second shot off the line.

Gifu’s Colombian striker looked like a bit of a handful physically and will score goals this season. There were times he was able to use his physique to make space and turn to run at goal, and has quite good pace for a man of his size. He should have done better with a shot from 6 yards after a cross from the right, but again Kamiyama was quick to come out and did just enough to put the striker off enough to shoot wide.

At the other end Avispa were playing a direct, almost long ball tactic which I’ve not really seen from them before.
It was creating very little, and seemed to have a bigger emphasis on keeping our defensive shape than attacking. The only real goal-scoring chance made was from a good ball into the channel by Tsutsumi which Abe ran onto and crossed with Ishizu very close to making contact with as he ran to try and meet the cross.

Other than that it looked like our only chance for scoring might come from a set piece, and Sakata nearly got to a Park flick-on at the far post but as with Ishizu earlier couldn’t quite stretch far enough.

Hirai came on in the 2nd half again and again didn’t really impose himself on the game. He is a player who always gives you a chance of getting a goal, but is very quiet when he isn’t doing that.

Avispa started to retain the ball much better, but nearly fell victim to a headed goal from the Colombian who met a cross well but again Kamiyama pulled off a good reaction save. He has many deficiencies, but when it comes to reaction blocks he has kept us in a few games already this season.

Jogo came closest to scoring for Avispa with a tipped volley as he beat Kawaguchi to a bouncing ball, but the shot went narrowly over the bar.

Something I have felt we have needed in this division is someone who can launch the ball into the box for throw-ins; in games like this where the defence is remaining solid with 7 men behind the ball it can get teams the odd goal which changes a draw to a win.
It turns out we don’t need to look for anyone as Jogo can reach the penalty spot with his throws. As something which had clearly been practiced in training for this game (along with the more direct long ball approach) Jogo threw a ball to Sakata near the penalty spot who turned and shot in one movement to give us what looked like it might be the only goal of the game.

Having gone a goal down Gifu became a bit more attacking in their outlook and were rewarded for their wing play as #17 managed to hold off and beat Tsutsumi near the byline and put in a cross which Mishima didn’t get enough on to clear and Alex Santos coolly finished in the top corner.
It is a goal which Tsutsumi won’t want to look back on much as he had plenty of opportunities to make the tackle, but other than that he had a good game alongside Lee, getting himself in front of shots and organising the line well.

The Avispa team of last year would have got very nervous, and probably ended up losing the game, but as with the Jubilo game the player at fault went to the other end and changed the game for the good.
Up field after a corner Tsutsumi went in for a 50:50 and got the ball, bundled through a player and passed the ball to Hirai on the edge of the box.
Rolling the ball across for Ishizu on his left foot, Ishizu hit a first time shot which beat Kawaguchi at his near post. It was a goal which any keeper wouldn’t be happy to concede, but I assume that Gifu are paying Kawaguchi a lot of money and as with many times before I was not impressed by him.

There was time for Jogo to head a second shot off the line, but Avispa held on to get a win which makes this a good start to the season and a probably place in the play-offs at the end of the day, possibly level with 2nd on points.

Posted April 5, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Yokohama FC (ratings)   Leave a comment

Kamiyama : 8
Did well on his return to the first team and has made himself clear first choice in my opinion. Tried to distribute the ball quickly and short, and made 2 good reflex saves from headers to keep the game scoreless in the second half.

Abe : 6.5
In a team of players who were playing very well I thought his performance dropped a little. #13 got in behind him several times and he didn’t offer much going forward.

Mishima : 7.5
Kept running until the final whistle and had much better delivery on crosses. Still needs to work on his crossing, but forced the Yokohama winger backwards with his attacking.

Lee : 8.5
Dealy with the aerial threat from his country-man well, and threw himself at everything. A big part in us keeping a clean sheet, and then was directly responsible for the goal at the end with an excellent flick header to get an assist.

Tsutsumi : 7
Over shadowed by Lee but did his part, and is getting much better at trying to organise the defence and timing when they step up.

Nakahara : 7.5
Did ok on his return to the anchor position. Was looking for forward passes more than he has, but I’d like his to play further forward even when given the anchor role. Should be looking to conduct from the centre circle, not 10m inside our own half.

Jogo : 7
Had some good touches to put the ball into space in the first half, and started to make runs into the box in the 2nd. He can do well in this position, but needs to use his ability to break into the box late, and be ready to track back if necessary. At the moment he doesn’t risk the forward runs due to his defensive responsibilities.

Sakata : 8
Has the potential to re-invent himself as a central midfielder. It doesn’t put quite as much pressure on his pace, and he retains the ball well and can battle for the ball with surprisingly good tackling.

Kanamori : 8
Our best player in the first half. Watching him is like looking at Sterling at Liverpool. He used to be all about pace and running onto the ball, now he has added an intelligence to his game and was linking well with others too.

Ishizu : 7
Should look at what Kanamori has done this season. Having been put on the bench he’s worked hard to improve on his senergy and hunger when given a chance. Ishizu can be a complete forward, but needs to see that there are parts of his game he can improve. His dribbling is a constant threat, but his movement without the ball has to improve.

Punosevac : 6
Harried the defence well, and upsetting the opposition is an important thing at home but still hasn’t looked like scoring and on a different day could have been sent off.

Hirai : 7
Got the goal to win us the game again, but to paraphrase Gary Linekar “What else did he do?”. Won Man of the Match again, but it is too simplistic to look at him as the match winner because without everyone else working to get the ball back and pass to him in the box he can never score.

Morimura : 6.5
There is a player inside this kid somewhere. He runs around with energy, and looks to be able to pass, tackle and get into the box, but he has to start putting it together in a game.

Takeda : 7
Added a bit of bite in midfield after he came on, and does also make forward passes (although will probably remember 1 terrible one straight into touch more) and runs towards the box.

Posted April 1, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs. Yokohama FC (youtube)   Leave a comment

Just as I was hoping that we could hold on for the draw we showed some new mental character and pushed forward for the win.

Lee Kwang Seon showed the sort of flick header which we had been hoping that Punosevac would be able to do, and Hirai doesn’t need too many chances in the box.

It is the sort of simple goal which Avispa don’t score enough of.

Sending a defender forward like Lee and putting a ball into the box is something which is seen regularly in the Premier League (even for throw-ins with some clubs), but Avispa always seem to play free-kicks from half-way back to the defence to pass around for a bit.
I know it’s what Barcelona/Liverpool/Swansea etc. do with those free kicks, and it is a nice way to play, but it is also good if we have a more direct option like this in our repertoire.

Posted March 30, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

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