The squad list and numbers for the upcoming season have been announced.
On the whole it looks like a better squad than at the start of last year, although not by a lot.
There are more attacking options than the fairly obvious Jumbo route from the start of last year, but the defence is potentially a bit weaker with Nakaji gone and the unknown quantity of the young Korean to replace him.
#1 Ryuichi Kamiyama – Will make 4-5 horrible mistakes during the season, but displays excellence at shot-stopping and improvement in coming out for crosses.
#2 Kim Min Je – Unknown quantity. Korea have been making some good full-backs recently so he might be really good, but impossible to tell at the moment.
#3 Tatsunori Yamagata – One of the players of last season after he came back into the team, but will be tested far more defensively next year. May struggle unfortunately.
#4 Takumi Wada – Didn’t stand out for a JEF team which failed to get promotion. Wearing 4 but playing at centre back, and even shorter than what we had before. Probably starting from the bench as backup.
#5 Makoto Tanaka – Some great games last year, but also out-foxed by some quite average J2 strikers at times. How many more years can he go on for? I think this could be his last and hope it doesn’t end badly.
#6 Daiki Niwa – Returning on loan again for the 3rd season, not sure what the advantage of him still being contracted to Osaka is. Will presumably be Captain again and needs to show his early season form.
#7 Kosuke Nakamachi – Whether we stay up or not will depend a lot on him. Player of the season last year he won’t score as many goals from set pieces this year and shouldn’t be expected to. Needs to step up, but may well move on to a bigger club next season if he does.
#8 Jun Suzuki – The most creative player at the club, he doesn’t get as many games as I would like presumably because of defensive deficiencies. His left foot is the single best thing at Avispa.
#9 Yutaka Takahashi – Did less than Jumbo last season, and probably owes his contract to that free-kick against Verdy. Dangerous in the box, but not good enough for J1 elsewhere in the pitch.
#10 Hisashi Jogo – I really want him to pull it off, but I fear he may get found out at J1 level. A scorer of great goals, but not a great scorer of goals he plays well instinctively, but not so well when he has time to think.
#11 Yusuke Tanaka – Could be the big thing this year. Pace will always cause problems and Yusuke has spades of it. His season will depend on his ability to stay fit.
#12 Supporter number
#13 Shogo Kobara – Inheriting Nagira’s #13 shirt he will probably also inherit his role of rarely used central defender. Emperors Cup candidate.
#14 Takuya Matsuura – Exactly the player we needed. Someone with pace and tricks, and able to shoot from outside the box. The most exciting of our transfers this season for me.
#15 Lee Jong Min – Did pretty well in his few games last season, but if he was only good enough to be rarely used at J2 level I don’t know how effective he will be in J1.
#16 Hideya Okamoto – Will end up being a versatile midfield/striker option on the bench again. Has looked good in spells, but never often enough to merit a starting spot and things just got harder with Matsuura, Naraoka, and Shigematsu joining.
#17 Kazuki Yamaguchi – Didn’t really play at all last season, unlikely to again I don’t know why he was offered a new deal unless he has low wages. Possibly saved by his hair-cut.
#18 Masato Yoshihara – The new Jumbo? His development was halted by injury last year when he had looked very good. Hopefully is fit again now and can start getting some game time to see if he can make the grade.
#19 Sho Naruoka – I’m expecting some good things from him, and he will be expecting to start. Will possibly be starting the season in the secondary striker role and could keep us up if he plays well.
#20 Yosuke Miyaji – Looked a good young player who could play across defence at the start of last year, but then didn’t get a game in the 2nd half of the season. Will be released next year if the same happens.
#21 Norihisa Shimizu – The player with most recent experience of J1 he is unlikely to last every minute of every game of the season, but could be an inspired transfer if he regains some energy with a change of club.
#22 Toshiya Sueyoshi – J2 Rookie of the Year last season he needs to keep his feet on the floor and keep progressing. A long way from the finished article, he might find the step up to J1 difficult and needs to learn from Shimizu.
#23 Yuji Rokutan – Few clubs can have as reliable a back-up keeper. He must be ready to want to play as first choice, and may look to go elsewhere if opportunities don’t come his way.
#24 Kentaro Shigematsu – Highly rated by FC Tokyo fans he could force his way into the first team. A bit of an unknown quantity.
#25 Eita Kasagawa – Never seen him play, and with 2 good keepers in front of him I’m unlikely to do so this season either.
#26 Son Jyon Ryun – Looked to be the best of the youngsters last season and I expect him to get more time this year. Could end up fighting for a start by the end of the season.
#27 Tokio Hatamoto – Academy player, I know nothing about him.
#28 Taku Ushinohama – Another academy guy, won’t get any games.
Some news to come out today was some which I had expected in that the club has decided that having a player with the experience of Kiyokazu Kudo, and a guy who kept himself fit and dedicated to the game was too good to let leave altogether.
From today Kudo is the coach for the Avispa U-18 team so will still be seen around the club.
He was clearly very popular around the club, and played with a high level of technical competence which I believe will be of far greater use to the young players than a clogger.
Hopefully it means we will get a group of youngsters coming through who play with heart, but are also able to deliver a ball well (hopefully not really short though).
A couple of weeks ago it was announced that despite being offered a new deal by Mizuno, Avispa were going to change kit supplier to lesser known company svolme. I don’t know the reason why they would do this, but hopefully it involves lots of money coming into the club.
I was a little concerned by svolme as their clothes seemed to mostly be very bright coloured, and with an average of 4-5 svolme logos on them, but having seen the new kit released yesterday it isn’t too bad.
They have managed to keep that shirt a fairly plain dark blue, with their only indulgence being to add some horizontal stripes across both the home and away shirt. It does seem that they have been conscious of being a lesser known supplier and tried to be conservative with the design rather than do something outlandish.
It has apparently been inspired by some sort of sailor shirt, which I guess I can envisage if I use a lot of imagination and picture it on someone slightly more masculine than Jogo or Nakamachi.
The Goal-keepers jerseys are pretty much unchanged.
svolme logos are kept down to 3 (1 on the front and 2 epaulettes), but the sponsorship logo still looks pretty bad, as if Avispa is sponsored by 3 different companies from some angles.
I’m glad they didn’t take the cynical route of having a black 2nd strip to deliberately clash with Gamba and necessitate a 3rd strip.
As one aging midfielder retires we are set to get another as Norihisa Shimizu arrives from Yokohama F Marinos.
By the start of the new season he will be 35, and according to some Marinos fans has been starting to show his age, but we have seen what players this age are capable of and hopefully he will be able to have a Kudo-like swansong to his career and help us stay up.
Listed as a FW on wikipedia he is more of a midfielder, and his arrival has started to make the midfield look a little busy. While competition for places is good, we now have a lot of midfielders and serious lack of depth in defence and could do with more strikers too.
I can’t see anyone taking the place of Nakamachi or Sueyoshi as the central pairing which means we have the front 4 positions needing to be filled by Yusuke, Matsuuda, Naraoka, Shimizu, Jogo, Suzuki Jun, Yutaka and Shigematsu, not taking into account Yoshihara who will hopefully be back.
Elsewhere there was some very good news in Daiki agreeing to stay on loan for another season where presumably he will also stay as Captain.
The fixture list for the first couple of games has been released and Avispa start with 2 very important home games against opposition who will probably be somewhere near them at the end of the season.
Starting by welcoming Albirex Niigata to Fukuoka on the 5th of March they will follow this by accommodating a Ventforet Kofu team who may well be playing Genki Nagasato who is likely to get a quite vocal reception on his return.
Avispa’s chances of staying in J1 at the end of the season will be judged from these performances as they are both home games which the team should be trying to win, and which if they do so could bring an optimistic wave to the club at the start of the season as 6 points and a place at the top of the League is a definite possibility.
If they lose both the games then it is a really ominous sign for the rest of the season as there are likely to be few easier games than these two teams at home.
In other news 2 more players have re-signed with the club for the coming year. Hisashi Jogo will be looking to continue scoring goals at Level 5 stadium, while Suzuki Jun has agreed to stay but must be looking to get more first team action after some of his performances last season.
Nothing very exciting has happened this week, but there have been 2 new faces arrive at the club, and another player has re-signed for the coming season.
Arriving from Ehime it isn’t a big name which Shinoda will be able to rely upon to keep J1 attacks at bay, and at 28 he isn’t going to get any better, but he does have some J1 experience having previously played for Yokohama Marinos and Montedio Yamagata in the top division.
I can’t remember thinking much of him when I saw Ehime, but judging from his height he is a Central defender and will provide back-up for Daiki and Makoto.
Kim Min Je
I know nothing about this guy except that he is coming from a Korean University and has played for South Korea U-17 as a defender.
Being quite short I am hoping that he is a full-back, possibly brought in for Nakajima, but with such little experience it will be a big ask for him to be anything other than a squad player.
A player who definitely has the quality to succeed at J1 level he needs to stay fit for the season.
if he can stay fit he could become a first team regular, playing at right wing or forward, or perhaps even as a fluid front 4 with Naruoka/Jogo/Matsuura able to switch between positions.
After getting more and more concerned by players leaving the club, not many joining, and no notification that other important ones had re-signed there is some good news as it has been announced that Player of the Season Nakamachi has agreed to a contract for the coming season.
I really hope that it is more than a 1 year contract as he is only 25 and just had an amazing season so there is relatively little risk, but that just doesn’t seem to happen in Japan and we will probably end up losing him next year if he has another stellar season.
The team now needs to be built around him, and have less emphasis on him for scoring. He scored so many from corners last year and won’t be given the same space next year so needs support from elsewhere; specifically from the strikers.
With Sueyoshi having already signed it means the middle 2 will be the same, and presumably have Matsuura on the wing where Kudo used to play and Naruoka as a classic #10 behind Jogo. That still leaves Suzuki Jun, Yusuke and Hideya to compete for places so the team is starting to take shape.
Graph showing my mood over the transfer period so far….