Archive for September 2010

vs. Kashiwa (preview)   Leave a comment

Avispa play runaway leaders Kashiwa At home this weekend as one of the form teams of the division.

While not having stretched their unbeaten run to as long as earlier in the season, the teams they have been playing are the hardest in the division and they have come through all of them to remain unbeaten since losing to Thespa in the first game after the World Cup (their only defeat in 17 games).

Having said that, they will be up against a different beast today with Kashiwa only having lost once all season. Within their run of 17 games Avispa have gone behind in the game 9 times. If they go behind against Kashiwa it is going to be very hard to break them down.

The job is going to made even harder by Captain Daiki being suspended for the match after picking up his 4th Yellow card against Tosu. Miyaji will probably come into partner Makoto, and while he is a decent player it is a big worry.
In midfield Sueyoshi will probably be occupied by Leandro for much of the game leaving Nakamachi swamped.

Kashiwa go into the game as slight favorites (2.45, 34%) despite being the away team, and I think this is justified. In fact I think it is quite generous odds and would be a bet I’d take.

My prediction
Avispa 1 – 2 Kashiwa Reysol

I think that Avispa will get a consolation goal, but with Daiki missing they won’t have the defensive strength to with-hold the Kashiwa attack.

Posted September 26, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Tosu (youtube)   Leave a comment

Sagan Tosu 0 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka

Avispa have managed to produce another great result by going to neighbours Tosu and returning with all three points. Having been beaten at home earlier in the season it was important for bragging rights that Avispa tried to return the favour, and didn’t let the fans down by maintaining their great run of wins.

Going into September I would have probably been happy with 6 points from the 4 games (JEF, Yokohama, Tosu, Kashiwa), but with Kashiwa still to play tomorrow we have earned 9 already with another potential 3 to come. It means that with JEF having a mid-week rest we are 7 points clear of them, while having played the same number of games.

As expected Tosu were played at a fast pace, and to be fair to them held the share of possession and probably had more shots.
Unfortunately for them despite having a greater number of shots Kamiyama was never seriously tested.

After earlier rattling the woodwork from a Nakajima free-kick from distance Avispa started the 2nd half with a really nice goal from Genki.

After breaking up a Tosu attack Sueyoshi drove forward and distributed the ball out right to Kudo. Finding it’s way over to the left wing via Nakamachi, Genki hit a first time shot which was blocked by a diving defender.
Without missing a step Genki then hit the ball returning to him with his other foot and past the goal-keeper who hadn’t recovered from his earlier dive.

The video doesn’t fully do justice to the Avispa support which seemed to outnumber Tosu at home, and was certainly much louder than them throughout the whole game.

Posted September 25, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Tosu (preview)   Leave a comment

It’s the day of the big Kyushu derby where Avispa make the 40 minute journey south to small town Tosu, looking to avenge the 2-0 defeat at Level 5 stadium in awful April.

Tosu are having one of their better seasons, staying in the top half without ever looking likely to get promotion, but will be sure to raise their game against their stronger and more fashionable rivals knowing that next season they will be unlikely to play them again.

I think that Tosu are going to be out-played, out-tackled and out-supported throughout the whole game.

My prediction
Sagan Tosu 0 – 3 Avispa Fukuoka.

While a derby day is always difficult, and this match is like a Cup final for Sagan Tosu, the current form of Avispa will be too much for the pink and baby blue boys. One of the few games which I think Okubo should be in the starting XI to have more experience and try to attract fouls.

Posted September 23, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Yokohama (youtube)   2 comments

Last Sunday saw Avispa travel to Yokohama coming off the back of a great victory and in a rich vein of form after a sequence of come from behind victories. I was concerned it would be difficult to raise themselves for the game as it was straight after the JEF game, and before massive games against Tosu and Kashiwa, and would have been happy with a point.

The team lined up with Okubo starting, which is not our best XI in my opinion, and true to recent form went behind in the first half as a Yokohama midfielder scored from a shot coming in from the right. While a little bit annoying to go behind again, with the current Avispa team it is not the end of the world.

Answering more quickly than against JEF, Avispa scored the equaliser in the 1st half. Scoring a lot of goals from set pieces it was a smart finish from Jumbo to justify his selection after Nakamachi’s initial header was saved by the keeper.
I don’t know how Nakamachi wins so many headers in the box, but he must be one of the best 174cm headers in the world.

Halfway through the 2nd half Avispa went ahead after another corner. This time it was Nakajima taking it as Kudo had been substituted for Yusuke, but he found a perfect cross onto Matokto’s head. Finding a little space in the middle of goal he scored what was pretty much an unmissable header.
With Yokohama pushing forwards in the last 10 minutes in search for an equaliser Genki then scored a very nice goal with his characteristic quick feet to beat his man and then choosing his spot in the goal. It came after Hideya showed what he can bring to the team running onto a good pass by Sueyoshi having won the ball back in midfield.
After his initial pass to Jumbo was lost he fought to get the ball back and cross into the box again. The ball found its way to the opposite wing where Yamagata showing no signs of his injury was still running after 82 minutes and could cross in for Genki to score.

Posted September 23, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs Yokohama FC (preview)   Leave a comment

After the fantastic win last week (my favorite game since starting to watch Avispa) the team needs to follow it up with a strong performance against Yokohama. Similarly to the game against Thespa last month, a weak performance against a “weaker” team will undo all the good work of last week.
I hope that the team are able to raise themselves for this game, and having seen the team spirit at the end of the game last week I don&t doubt they can do it.

Yokohama are a strong team, but have lost their top scorer to the J-League since we played them at home. He had looked the best striker in the division on that day, and scored against us, so it’s a good thing for us that he has moved on.

JEF play Kashiwa in a tough game so we have the opportunity to move even further ahead.

My prediction
Yokohama 1 : 1 Avispa.

A tough game after the high of last week. I’d be happy with an away draw, especially if JEF get the same result or worse at home to the league leaders.

Posted September 18, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. JEF (youtube)   Leave a comment

Playing JEF united means that I am able to find the JEF goals uploaded as well as the Avispa goals. While obviously not as interesting it is good to see how we have conceded. In this case a really good long shot, which looks even better on TV than it did in real life, but that still doesn’t excuse the amount of space he was allowed in midfield.

Full highlights:

Yusuke’s equaliser.
A JEF player had been timewasting after a clash of heads with Genki in the box. After being barracked by the crowd the ball was worked for a corner. Nakaji swung the corner in and it bounced out to Yusuke unmarked at the back of the box. hitting the ball through a busy penalty area it takes 2 deflections before going in, and probably making JEf wish they hadn’t been wasting so much time!

Jogo’s winner.
As JEF were pushing up to try and find a winner (a draw was probably better for Avispa than for JEF) it left space at the back. Nakamachi managed to find Jogo on the edge of the box, who composed himself, beat his man and fired an unstoppable shot into the far corner in the pouring rain.

Posted September 14, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. JEF (events and ratings)   1 comment

Avispa 2 – 1 JEF United

8 mins ******GOAL****** JEF defender #31 is allowed a lot of space and has time to pick his spot in the goal. Hits a great strike and scores from well outside the box.

20 mins Jogo runs onto a through ball and tries to beat the keeper at his near post from the left of the area. Hits the outside of the post.

25 mins Sueyoshi dribbles into the box and tries to pass it into the far corner. Beats the keeper, but goes the wrong side of the post.

81 mins ******GOAL******* Corner from the right is hit into the middle of the box. Bouncing on to Yusuke on the far side of the box he drills it back across goal. May have been going in, but is helped on it’s way by a JEF defender.

88 mins ******GOAL******* Jogo gets the ball on the right side of the box and curls a shot perfectly over the keeper and into the far corner.

90 mins Genki nearly makes it 3 goals in 10 minutes after breaking past a couple of defenders, but slides his shot just wide of the far post.

Ratings :

Kamiyama – 7. Seemed to be punching a lot rather than catching, and was beaten from a long way out, but made one very important save by making himself big in the box.

Nakajima – 6. Did OK defensively, but didn’t push forwards as much as he sometimes can. Delivered the corner for the goal.

Tatsunori – 7. Amazing running again in heavy conditions. Got taken off injured and was still limping after the final whistle.

Daiki – 7. A very tough match for him against a powerful striker. 2nd best at strength and speed, but gave a good contest.

Makoto – 7. Assured performance. Caught out a couple of times, but more than made up for it with good tackles and defensive headers.

Kudo – 7. Ran well for the 60 minutes he played. Let down by his shooting, but crossing is consistently good and intelligent.

Genki – 8. Gave the opposition full-back a tough time all afternoon. Kept beating his man and looking for support in the box. Always leaves the team huddle early, and comes out onto the pitch before the others.

Sueyoshi – 8. My Man of the Match. Full of energy in midfield, and has added breaking into the box to his game. Could have scored a couple today.

Nakamachi – 7. Worked well with Genki and Kudo to make triangles along the touchline, but is now being closely marked after becoming one of J2s star players.

Jogo – 8 Official Man of the Match. Maintained his scoring run with a very well taken goal. Had the other big chance of the game but hit the post.

Okubo – 6. Better than he has been, but is still mistiming his jumps and displays horrible first touch.

Yusuke – 8. On for Kudo. Injected a lot of energy. If he can work on his defensive game he could start replacing Kudo in the starting lineup.

Hideya – 7. On for Okubo. The team looked better with another quick striker.

Mijaji – 6. Was caught out a couple of times in difficult conditions, but contributed to both goals.

Posted September 13, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. JEF United (full report)   Leave a comment

Avispa 2 – 1 JEF United

After the mild distraction of the cup Avispa went into a game with 3rd place JEF united knowing that a win would see them leapfrog the team from Chiba into 3rd place. Coming at the start of one of the most difficult set of fixtures possible (JEF -> Kashiwa -> Tosu) it would be a month of fixtures which would decide how Avispa finished the season.

With the Summer dying down a little the game started at 4pm, and had the biggest crowd I have yet seen at Level 5 (over 12000, with not a huge amount of away fans). While still hot, it looked likely to bucket down with rain at any time.

In what may have been a late change, the team starting for Avispa was different to that listed in the match-day programme with Jumbo starting up front in place of Hideya. I can’t say I was happy to see this. While Jumbo has come on and changed games recently I think that is a good reason to keep him as a ‘super-sub’ rather than bring him into the first team.

Sure enough the tactics to start the game seemed to be to pump it up to Jumbo and bypass midfield. Allowing big areas of midfield for JEF to play, their #7 was bossing the game and pushing the Avispa players deeper and deeper. This then allowed acres of space for central defender #31 to strike a good shot at goal to open the scoring. It wasn’t the strongest hit shot in the world, but with time and space to place it he beat Kamiyama fairly easily.

Avispa then had the tough task of trying to stretch JEF and find an equaliser. Chances were few and far between, with balls being hit up to Jumbo. I don’t know where his nickname came from, but it is as likely that it refers to his first touch being like that of an elephant as much as his size.
Fukuoka had a greater share of possession, but the only clear chance was after Sueyoshi cut into the box from the left, beat the first defender and only narrowly missed the far corner of the goal with only the keeper to beat.
Looking the team more likely to score it was then Jogo who had a chance to maintain his scoring streak as he was fed a through pass on the left side of the penalty area, in a position we have seen him score from in recent weeks. Striking the ball well again he managed to hit the near post with a strong shot.

At the other end Neto was being a constant threat to Daiki and Makoto with his strength and direct running and looked close to breaking free on a few occasions, but was generally being dealt with well. The teams went in at half-time with the rain pouring down and Avispa still behind.

The 2nd half started in a similar way to the end of the 1st as Avispa tried to work an opening in the JEF defence, but being repelled by a solid team keeping 10 men behind the ball. They were trying to play more football, with some neat triangles being worked in midfield, but never truly looked like being able to break through. For all their endeavor the JEF keeper didn’t really have a save to make.

At the other end Avispa were indebted to Kamiyama who pulled out a smart save to deny a 2nd goal which would have put the game out of reach.

Midway through the 2nd half the predictable substitutions of Kudo for Yusuke, and Okubo for Hideya were made, and the team started to look a little more likely to break through with this injection of fresh pace. JEF were already trying to waste time, with their keeper booked for time wasting. It was directly after one of these time-wasting episodes that Avispa got an equaliser. After a clash of heads between Genki and a JEF player in the box the JEF player was very slow to leave the pitch and then stood in the way of the throw-in to get treatment. In the best possible retribution Avispa scored from a corner after the throw-in. The ball found it’s way to Yusuke at the back of the box who hit a shot towards goal which was deflected in by a JEF defender.

At 1-1 with 10 minutes to play there was a buzz around the ground that maybe Avispa could win it. JEF started to look panicked, and when a through pass was played for Jogo on the right side of the box in was inevitable that he would be able to bend one over the keeper into the far top corner to give Avispa a famous victory.

I’ve not seen the bench celebrate as they did after that goal, and upon hearing the final whistle, and hope that the good spirits can be carried into the next 2 important games.

Posted September 13, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. JEF (preview)   Leave a comment

Avispa face their most important game of the season this afternoon as 3rd place JEF United come down to Level 5 Stadium. A win would see Avispa leap-frog JEF into 3rd place while still holding a game in hand, giving them an excellent position in their race for promotion.
A draw would still leave things in Avispa’s hands as winning the game in hand would still put them into 3rd.

Both teams are stronger in attack than in defence so it may well be a game involving many goals, and a result which is very difficult to forecast.

Avispa’s defence need to be working better than they have in recent weeks, with Daiki in particular suffering from a slight dip in form. This would be a very good game to be back playing at his best. Hopefully Kamiyama will be back. Any mistakes are likely to be punished by the experienced goal-scorer Neto, who is a threat with his head, and breaking onto through balls.

The bookmakers have found it equally hard to call, with boths teams having near equal odds for the win, with a draw being slight higher priced.

My prediction

Avispa 2 : 2 JEF United
A high scoring draw. Both teams have players who can score from different areas of the pitch, and should be hyped up to do so in what is probably the most important game of the season.

Posted September 11, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Fagiano (youtube)   Leave a comment

It has been harder to find out much about the Emperor’s Cup game than usual, with the J-League site not even carrying the fixtures and the Avispa home-page not having any match report. I’ve tried to piece together what I can from various youtube videos and the always excellent Super Avispa

While teams like Sagan Tosu were struggling to beat Kumamoto Junior High School, Avispa had been given pretty much the hardest tie they could have had by drawing another J2 team away. Having been held to a goalless draw a few weeks ago the team must have known it wasn’t going to be an easy game.

As the teams ran out it is great to see the away fans acknowledging Jumbo for the difference he made coming off the bench against Toyama last week. He could prove to be a very effective substitute.

There seems to be an injury to Kamiyama as he was replaced by Rokutan in goal and wasn’t even named on the bench for the game.
I don’t know if this led to some disruption to the Avispa defence, but they couldn’t have had a much worse start by conceding 2 unanswered goals in the 1st half. I don7t know how these were scored, but the Fagiano team look quite pleased with themselves after scoring the 2nd in the 33rd minute.

Little could they know that with Avispa showing greater resilience in recent times they would come out fighting in the 2nd half and score from a corner with a bullet header by Hideya after 58 minutes.

With the momentum in Avispa’s favour man of the moment Jogo scored another away goal to even the scores and make it 5 goals in 3 away games for him.

By this time I would hope that Avispa were pushing forward in search of the winning goal to complete a dramatic come from behind victory.
Painfully for Fagiano this goal did come, by way of a penalty in the 2nd minute of injury time. Taken by Nakamachi, he manages to deal with the pressure of a last minute penalty and passes the ball into the corner of the net to complete the win.

In the next round Avispa will play against Sanfrecce Hiroshima of J1 in what will be an interesting measure of how well they may do next season if they are successful with promotion.

Posted September 7, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights