Archive for December 2010

Player Grades   Leave a comment

There is still the chance for someone to make a name for themselves in the Emperor’s Cup next week but I’ll give my grades for the squad from this season.

I’m using English grades (A-F) rather than the Japanese school system where it doesn’t seem possible to get lower than a C in most schools.

A = A top performer. The club really needs to keep the player and base the team around them next season.

B = Has played well throughout the year and made a big contribution to promotion.

C = Probably had a few good games and a few bad. OK for a youngster who can get better, not so good for a 30+ player with nowhere to go.

D = Someone who I don’t think had a good season. If they didn’t do that great in J2 then they probably shouldn’t be playing at J1.

E = We got promoted so no-one can have done that bad. Don’t think I’m likely to give anyone E or below; depends how much beer I drink while I’m writing these.

Goalkeepers.

Kamiyama – B+ At the start of the season I got worried every time he went near the ball, but the only real howler he made was against Roasso. I’d still like to see him more dominant on crosses but made important saves in the middle of the season.

Rokutan – B- Definitely 2nd to Kamiyama, but didn’t let himself down when he played and a very good back-up keeper.

Defenders

Nakajima – B Deserves a chance at J1 level, but is probably going to get caught out a lot by pace. Often starts Avispa attacks and showed good delivery on set pieces.

Tatsunori – B+ Great stamina, but I fear he may also struggle against top wingers. Won’t give up and played a big part in Avispa’s resurgence after a bad start to the season.

Daiki – B+ Was the best player at the start of the season, but became less influential as the season went on. A great Captain and will hopefully sign full time. Would work better with a taller centre-back partner.

Makoto – B+ Had some excellent games, but can’t do it every game. Excellent positioning and one on one tackling, but lacks a physical presence.

Miyaji – B- Wasn’t used much at the end of the season, but I thought he did well when he was needed at the start. Became more confident in going forward and never looked out of his depth.

Nagira – C- Didn’t get used much, and when he was he cramped up at the end of the game. Doesn’t look very mobile and was probably correctly released.

Ii Jong Lee – B- Having been brought in mid-season from Tochigi where he didn’t play a game I wasn’t expecting much but he was pretty good in the few games he got.

Hiraishi – C- He looked pretty good when he came on as a full-back who will get forward, but then wasn’t used and got released. Shinoda saw more of him in training but he didn’t really get a chance.

Midfielders

Nakamachi – A+ Definite player of the season, we would be mid-table without him. He scored goals and went the whole season only giving the ball away a handful of times. If we hadn’t gone up this season I don’t know if we could have kept him. Narrowly missed out on J2 player of the year to Leandro Dominguez.

Sueyoshi – A- J2 rookie of the year. By the mid point of the season he was one of the most important players of the team. Did well, but needs to realise he isn’t the finished player and must keep developing. Might not find next season as easy and mustn’t lose confidence.

Kudo – B Made the right decision to play another season, but also made the right decision in retiring before J1. Gave 60 minutes of work in every game, and has excellent delivery but we will need more spark if we keep the 4231 next season.

Genki – A For the most part he was excellent, and looked like the only player capable of scoring in many games. He scored a lot of goals and will hopefully keep doing it next year. Can sometimes drift out of games, and I’d like to see him turning his man in the channel more often.

Suzuki Jun – B+ Avispa’s most creative player, he wasn’t used as much as I think he should have been. Isn’t really dynamic, but if played as a support striker he has the left foot to make things happen and is willing to fight even if his tackling is a little late.

Abe Shu – C+ Didn’t get many chances after Sueyoshi slotted in so well, but did alright when he did play. J2 quality, and will make a good player for somebody at this level. Should trust his ability and look for a pass forward more.

Yusuke – B makes things happen when he is on the pitch, but I don’t know if he will ever be able to do it for a whole game let alone a whole season. His speed is also a hindrance of sorts as his hamstrings seem very fragile.

Forwards

Jumbo – D It’s difficult to be too hard on Jumbo after the end of the season, but it was sadly correct that he should be released as he wasn’t good enough for most of the season. Low in confidence, terrible first touch, and didn’t seem able to time headers.

Jogo – C Scored the goals in the middle of the season which led to promotion so again difficult to grade low, but he goes absent for so long in games. Seems only able to score from ‘perfect’ positions rather than always making the keeper work.

Yutaka – C Probably owes his contract to the wonder free-kick he scored against Verdy. A good finisher from in the box, and tries hard, but not top division quality.

Hideya – B His versatility makes him a great squad player, but not the answer in attack at the moment. Showed some good skill at times and may play himself into a starting position if he continues improving.

Oyama – C- I only saw him once but he looked full of energy and movement but never got a chance. Again, Shinoda saw him more often than me and released him, but i don’t think he got much of a chance to impress.

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Posted December 19, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

Takuya Matsuura   Leave a comment

Been hearing a new name linked with the club in the past day with a player called Matsuura from Jubilo Iwata being talked about.

Being a J1 player I know nothing about him, but the Jubilo fans don’t seem happy at all with the idea that he might come to us, which probably means he is a decent player.

He is a young player (21) and seems to play as an attacking midfielder or deep striker. At 1.66m he is a totally different prospect to Jumbo, but I think would most likely play in his position as a creative #10 trying to provide the final pass which we have been missing all season.

From seeing some of his goals on youtube he is a very good dribbler, can beat his man, and has a good long shot. Again all things which we have been missing.

I have no idea how likely we are to signing him, but he looks like a very nice player who if we did somehow manage to sign would be one of our key players.

Posted December 11, 2010 by avispafukuoka in News

No Nagai. So who?   Leave a comment

It has been reported in the last couple of days that Kensuke Nagai has been lured away from signing with his hometown club and the guarantee of first team opportunities which Avispa would bring, and has signed with last year’s J1 Champions Nagoya Grampus.

If this turns out to be true then I think it is the worst decision he could have made. There may be better coaches, better team-mates and the allure of winning things, but realistically he isn’t going to get in the team ahead of Josh Kennedy or Keiji Tamada so is going to get limited game time when what he needs most is experience.

I’m disappointed that he looks like he won’t be playing for Avispa; after the club released Jumbo I thought it meant they must have a replacement lined up for him. Maybe they still do, but it probably isn’t going to be Nagai.

Without Jumbo we only have Yutaka (not a bad sub when you need a goal, but not J1 class), Yoshihara (very promising but also very young and been injured), Yusuke (seems to be made of glass and more likely to be right wing) and Hideya and Jogo (not specifically strikers).

Assuming that we need to get someone else then here are some names I can think of from within Japan who might be able to do a job for us.

Ricardo Lobo
Scored a lot of goals for Tochigi SC in J2 this season including 2 agasinst us. Sharp in the box and with no immediate chance of playing in J1 if he stays at Tochigi. If he is signed then it would probably also be a good idea to look at Paulinho too.
Should be a cheap option, not worth paying a monster wage for.

Sota Hirayama

A long shot, and probably not a cheap option even if he had any interest in coming.
Originally from Kitakyushu he would be a near identical replacement for Jumbo being a tall target type striker. Has represented Japan at many levels including National Team level.
Just gone down with FC Tokyo and probably not keen to be out of J-League for a season.

Masashi Oguro

Another very unlikely one, but he was the best striker I saw last season when he scored against us for Yokohama FC.
A bit of a mercenary and will just go to whoever pays him the most money (a lot of money), which is very unlikely to be us, but he has undoubted class and has always scored goals.
May well be floating around again at the start of the season as it is usually mid-season when some team finds out they need goals and comes calling for him.

Choi Jung-Han

The Korean striker at Oita who looked good every time I saw him, and scored quite a few goals. Young and technical he can&t want to spend another season in Oita after the season they have just had. Similar to Lobo it would probably be a good idea to get him with his compatriot Kim Bo-Kyung who is also good and plays well together.

Posted December 9, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

Kensuke Nagai   Leave a comment

The biggest question this off-season will be whether wonder-kid Kensuke Nagai is going to sign for his hometown club having graduated from Fukuoka University where his performances saw him get called up for the Japanese National Team.

There is a lot of speculation about where he might be going to now, with the main contenders being mentioned seeming to be Nagoya Grampus, Urawa Reds, Vissel Kobe or Avispa Fukuoka.

In the last game of the season a new banner had appeared at the back of the stadium with some fans already hopeful that a deal has been done.

A hopeful banner, or does someone have inside information?


I think that Avispa is the best destination for him, even if I try to be unbiased.

If he comes back to Avispa (he played for us as a development player) he will almost certainly be the first choice striker and be someone the team is built around. The supporters will give him plenty of chances as a local boy, and the style of play in Fukuoka where the midfield is bringing the ball to the edge of the box but needing a cutting edge seems like a perfect situation for him.

The Contenders for his signature.

Nagoya Grampus The League Champions. He would be in with a chance of winning lots of games, and be playing with some very talented players, but would be doing most of that playing on the training field rather than in matches. Likely to be mainly used as a substitute if he goes there.

Urawa Reds More likely to start games than at Nagoya, but would probably still start the season on the bench. A lot of pressure and may not be given a lot of time to settle by the supporters.

Vissel Kobe He has been on their books as a development player this season, but not played many games. They avoided relegation, but are they going to be any better than Fukuoka next season?

Avispa Fukuoka His hometown club, and the club where he started his career. Already known and popular with the fans who will really want him to succeed. A club who need a striker to build the team around, and would be 1st choice striker every game. Presumably has a home, friends and family in the area.

Kensuke Nagai
When the club released Jumbo I thought it meant we must already have a replacement lined up, with Nagai being the most likely candidate after he was at the game against Consadole, but he is a different type of striker.

More similar in style to Yutaka he is smaller, but still good in the air with quick feet and very good movement.. He is good with both feet, and can run at players in a very direct and effective style. Basically exactly the player we need!

Beating 2 players and delivering a great ball for Jumbo last time he played for us.

Beats 3 players and finishes to score the winning goal against Iran in the Asian games.

Posted December 7, 2010 by avispafukuoka in News

Avispa release players   Leave a comment

Avispa made their triumphant return to the top flight, the players rejoiced on the pitch in anticipation of playing against the best teams in Japan, and it was announced that 5 of them would be spending the off-season looking for alternative employment.

It’s the time of the season when sad farewells have to be made, sometimes to players who have grown up with the club and never known anything else, with emotions running appropriately highly. I don’t fully understand the timing, but I suppose it does give players the chance to say good-bye to the fans in the last game of the season and gives the TV cameras a good chance to get some nice close-ups of grown men crying.

During the game against Consadole I had said to my girlfriend that it may well be Jumbo Okubo and Abe Shu’s last home games for the club, along with Kudo who everyone knew was going to be leaving. I’d said it more in hope than expectation and was really surprised when it was announced that Jumbo would no longer be ambling around for Avispa at the weekends. Abe Shu was less of a surprise, as were the other players released.

Tetsuya “Jumbo” Okubo.

I had filmed him for 1 minute of the game against Consadole after getting frustrated at his lack of effort/skill/technique and wanting to make a post about him saying that he had to go, but now that he has gone it seems a bit crass and unecessary.
Much better to celebrate the fact that for a couple of seasons he has provided some good times for the supporters, and scored some great goals.
Looking at some of his goals from seasons past he has scored some great ones, but despite getting promotion it hasn’t really worked out for him this season. He hasn’t looked confident, and his lack of energy and ability to hold the ball up saw him getting dropped halfway through the season.
He will make a very good striker for someone in the division. People say that Giravanz have a bit of cash at the moment. If they can find his 10m yen salary from somewhere they can pick up a talismanic striker, and hopefully Jumbo will find the goals again.

Abe Shu
Was always likely to be leaving at the end of the season after the emergence of Sueyoshi this season. he would have come to the club expecting to be the 1st choice defensive midfielder, and hasn’t done a bad job every time he has got a game, but found himself competing with a local boy impressing a lot of people and Player of the Season Nakamachi for central midfield.
Would play every week for a team in the bottom half of the table.

Tomokazu Nagira

Nagira was upset at the end of the season, but having only played a handful of games in the League this season he can’t have been that surprised to be leaving.
He hasn’t really improved a lot in recent seasons, and his fitness levels were not great in games when he did play, cramping up after 75 minutes. Could still be a good player at J2 level, but needs to be somewhere he can get a game regularly and try to recapture the form that made him a Japan U20 player.

Kenta Hiraishi

I thought he looked really good in the game I saw him, but then didn’t get another opportunity, even from the bench. Is older than Miyaji, and probably not quite as good and must have known the writing was on the wall when Lee arrived and played well.

Kyohei Oyama

I’ve said many, many times on this blog that I think this kid is good. i even went so far as to make a T-Shirt in anticipation of the next big thing, but he never really got a chance.
He looked good when he came on, he scored for fun in the reserves, and will hopefully now go and prove to Avispa that they were wrong to let him go. Whoever signs him will be getting a decent player; high energy, bustling type striker.
Originally from Kitakyushu and Giravanz could do a lot worse than signing him and Jumbo to play in a little and large formation with Oyama doing the running to pick up Jumbo’s knockdowns.

Posted December 6, 2010 by avispafukuoka in News

vs. Fagiano (youtube & ratings)   1 comment

Fagiano 1 – 2 Avispa
9 Shots 10
3 Corners 6
1 Yellow 3

Fagiano opened the scoring with a simple corner. There right back Sawaguchi was left in the middle with only Nakamachi around him. Nakamachi got the wrong side and injured himself in trying to cover.

Avispa replied through a goal made by Nakamachi’s replacement Suzuki Jun. Curling a free kick from long distance against the bar Tatsunori follows up to knock in the rebound.

Avispa score the winning goal with Suzuki Jun again getting the assist. Aiming at Jumbo in the middle of the box the ball reaches Kudo as Jumbo goes down. He hits a first time shot to score in his final game in the League.

Ratings

Rokutan – 7 Didn’t have a lot to do, but always looked comfortable. A very reliable backup for Kamiyama.

Nakajima – 7 Trying to get forward more often. Sometimes relies on the referee to help him out of tight situations and will come unstuck at some point.

Tatsunori – 8 Comfortable defensively and got the goal which his forward runs this season have deserved.

Daiki – 7 Rarely looked in trouble. Tries to referee the game at times.

Makoto – 7 Good enough for another season, but they need to start thinking of his replacement/backup; especially with Nagi released.

Abe Shu – 6 Not good enough for a starting place in J1, but will make a good defensive midfielder for someone in J2.

Nakamachi – 6 Nearly scored his short corner routine, but then caught out for the Fagiano goal and injured.

Kudo – 7 Looked like he had another season in him today. Scored a good goal to give him a nice send off.

Genki – 7 Still trying to score from distance which is good, but I still want him to make the defender turn more often.

Jogo – 6 Actually looked better on the right wing than as striker. Always wants the ball exactly where he wants it rather than making do for an early shot. Nearly scored a wonder goal with a scissors kick.

Jumbo – 5 I felt sorry for him today, he was playing under difficult circumstances and must have really wanted a goal. Hasn’t looked confident this season. Will be picked up by another J2 team quickly.

Suzuki Jun – 8 On for Nakamachi. Went through a 20 minute phase of running absolutely everything. Got assists for both Avispa goals. I don’t know why he hasn’t had more game time this season.

Yutaka – 5 On for Kudo. Did absolutely nothing of note.

Hideya – 6 On for Jumbo. Competent player, but offers nothing to change a game from the bench.

Shinoda – 6 Got the win, but only after being forced to bring Suzuki Jun on because of injury. Difficult situation in knowing whether to play Jumbo and Abe Shu; could’ve played Nagira for Makoto if he wanted to let players say Good-bye. Pointless to bring Yutaka on, everyone knows what he can do, give a youngster a game.

Posted December 5, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Fagiano (full report)   Leave a comment

After last week’s draw against Consadole the game today was very likely to mean nothing with the only way that Avispa could finish anywhere other than 3rd being if they won and Kofu lost with a goal difference of +4.

With that in mind i thought that it would be best if Avispa played a youthful team, with a few of the fringe players given a chance to show what they can do and get some useful experience before making the step up to J1.
This was complicated by the announcement yesterday that 5 players, including Jumbo, were not going to have their contracts renewed so wouldn’t be playing for Avispa next year. In an unnecessarily awkward situation there was then the problem of whether to consider these players for selection.

To give them a game is a nice opportunity for the fans to say thank-you and goodbye, but it is also an opportunity for the player to pick up an injury when they know that their future is uncertain and a difficult circumstance to ask someone to go out and play to the best of their ability.
I thought it better if they don’t play, but Shinoda decided differently and the match started with 2 of the players being released starting (Jumbo and Abe Shu). It meant that with Kudo also playing, only 8 players who have any chance of playing next season would be on the pitch.

As usual Avispa started brightly and had an early corner where they tried the short corner to Nakamachi routine which they have been doing a lot recently. Finding Nakamachi in plenty of space it looked like it might lead to a goal again, but his shot was blocked. I do wonder whether other clubs have watched footage of Avispa playing as they should know that nearly all corners taken by Avispa are aimed at Nakamachi by now.

Fagiano were playing their part in the match, and took the lead after 20 minutes with a corner of their own. An inswinging corner was met by the #2 in the centre of goal where having got in front of Nakamachi he easily scored. Nakamachi got very tangled up in the process which led to his injury, a more serious problem than conceding the goal under the circumstances.

Suzuki Jun was brought on, and the team looked more like what I had wanted it to look like for the last couple of games. I don’t know why Suzuki Jun has fallen out of favour so much but again in this game he looked the most creative player on the pitch after he came on. His tackling is still terrible, but enthusiastic, and he plays with his head up and an excellent awareness.

Avispa equalised from a free-kick from well outside the box with Suzuki Jun the architect. While Nakaji took a long run up he used his brilliant left foot to rattle the underside of the bar having got the ball up and down over the wall. Tatsunori finished well from the rebound having followed up the initial shot well.

Avispa deserved to be level, and enjoying a good 15 minutes of play Suzuki Jun got another assist for a second Avispa goal. After initially feinting he crossed a good ball over towards Jumbo who caused enough confusion by falling over that the ball could find it’s way to Kudo on the right of the box. Hitting a good first time shot he placed the ball inside the far post to give himself the perfect final game.

With the game finishing 2-1 I felt for Jumbo who was visibly upset at the final whistle, but got a great reception from the travelling fans. I have no doubts that he will get himself another club very quickly, along with all the players being released, and could easily make a good acquisition for Giravanz who have quite a bit of money at the moment, being able to stay in the area where he will always be treated well by Avispa fans.

Posted December 4, 2010 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports