Archive for March 2011

vs. Oita (ratings)   Leave a comment

Match 1
Kamiyama – 6 Punched a couple of crosses, did nothing else.
Wada – 6 Made no obvious mistakes, but did nothing in attack.
Miyaji – 6 Has a useful long throw, but probably not mobile enough to play at full-back.
Daiki – 6 Looked good when attacking, and is composed on the ball, but caught out on both goals. Needs to pass the ball straight to midfield rather than try to play.
Kobara – 6 Also needs to clear the ball hard, or pass straight to midfield. The defence is not good enough as a unit to pass around, even against J2 opposition.
Nakamachi – 6 Didn’t seem to have much energy, or stand out. Won a free-kick on the edge of the box which Yusuke hit the post with.
Sueyoshi – 5 Delivery from corners not great. Didn’t get stuck into tackles (but it was a friendly), and offered nothing in attack.
Matsuura – 6 His running was often into dead ends in this game. Needs a target in the box. Cramped up towards the end.
Shimizu – 5 Had a spell at the beginning of the 2nd half where he looked really classy, but I fear his legs may have gone. Looked like he was treading water at one point.
Yusuke – 7 Scored with his head when he made the effort to get into the box, and hit the post with a clever free-kick. Probably the best player for Avispa.
Jogo – 4 Difficult for him as he is still being asked to play as striker and never should. Doesn’t get in the box, holds up play when he should run on, bad first touch.

Match 2

Rokutan – 5 Came on during the first match and conceded almost striaght away. Probably would have been sent off in the second if it wasn’t a friendly after coming out of his box and taking down the striker unnecessarily.
Tatsunori – 7 Solid at the back behind a young kid, and provided some help in attack. Small mistakes throughout, but recovered from them.
Son – 6 Looks to get forward, and made no mistakes in defence. Substituted for Lee.
Yamaguchi – 6 Quite good at getting some part of his body onto balls, but prone to making at least one big mistake a game. Needs concentration.
Tanaka – 8 Totally solid at the back. really good for the youngsters to play with him. Conceded from a set piece, but always needs a partner with height. Nearly scored a screamer on the volley.
Suzuki Jun – 8 Dictated play from a ‘quarterback’ role. His range of passing means the strikers can always play on the shoulders of defence. gave the ball away rarely.
Naruoka – 7 Linking with attack well and showing some nice touches. Carried off the pitch with an injury after landing badly when challenging the keeper.
Ushinohama – 8 Very promising. Looked a little nervous at the start, but after nearly scoring and easily beating his man for the first goal gained in confidence. Was running across the park by the end.
Yutaka – 8 Really helped the younger players play. Was instrumental in most of the attacks, providing a central target around which to play.
Hideya – 9 I’ve not always given him great scores, but today he was a different player. Playing with energy and skill he scored goals and laid them on for others throughout the game.
Shigematsu – 8 Must start instead of Jogo. This is a real striker, his movement off the ball, tricks on it, and willingness to shoot mean he is already better and should only improve.
Yoshihara – 7 Also played in the first game. Skillful on the ball rather than the simple target man I was expecting. Should also be ahead of Jogo as striker.
Lee – 7 Attacking from full-back. Looked good in training too and deserves more game time than he is likely to get this season.
Hatamoto – 7 On for Makoto. Didn’t have much to do, but did everything asked of him and always looked calm on the ball. Has pace.
Kasegawa – 6 Conceded from a set piece, and again from one disallowed for offside. Made one save when tested early.

Posted March 28, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Oita (report)   Leave a comment

After a 3 week break after the earthquake Avispa played their first game at Level 5 stadium in a charity training game against Kyushu brethren Oita Trinita.

It was actually more like 2 training matches, with 4 sets of 45 minutes and the team almost entirely changing between the first two 45 minutes and the second two 45 minutes. As such I will treat it as 2 different matches. 2 different matches with very different results.

Match 1

Miyaji —Daiki—Kobara—Wada

Set up looking a lot like the first XI, the team set about playing exactly as they did in the game against Niigata. Holding the ball and having sporadic nice interplay along the wings, but lacking any penetration into the box.

In the absence of a striker with any obvious attributes (no pace, no strength, no height) the ball was often being played around the defence waiting for an opening which didn’t happen. Half the time they would get pressured into giving away possession, and half the time it would be played out to one of the speedy wingers who would then be stuck with no obvious target to aim for.

Jogo and Shimizu are both technically proficient, and had bursts in the game when they had some nice touches, but are not strikers. You could take a picture of the Oita penalty area at any time in the match and very rarely see any threat on the goal. There was one farcical moment when a ball was crossed into the box with only 145cm Matsuura jumping to try and get his head on it.

Oita were allowed to play at a level higher than their 15th place in J2 would suggest, with their big #20 striker being allowed to bully the defence to score 2 easy goals with a 3rd to follow.

At the other end Oita defender #25 was being made to look like Paulo Maldini as he was given space to head clear all crosses into the box. Daiki played a great ball over the top for Jogo to run onto at one point, but #25 was able to turn around and run past him to get to the ball first due what looked a fantastic lack of pace by Jogo. This is a guy who was released by Shonan at the end of last season, the team who conceded the most goals in J1 history last season.

Yusuke managed to get a consolation goal as he got something onto one of the many crosses into the box having taken it upon himself to come off his wing and fill the gap in the middle.

Final score : Avispa 1 – 3 Oita.

Yusuke~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Morishima (2), Mitsuhira

Match 2


The biggest problem in the first match (and against Niigata) was the total absence of a striker willing to get into the box and take a gamble on getting on the end of a ball. The second match had the instant remedy to this with Hideya, Yutaka, Naruoka and Shigematsu all being players who love to break into the box. Added to this was new midfielder Taku Ushinohama who looked very positive, with some direct running with the ball and good ability to know when to pass.

Having watched 90 minutes with almost no Avispa players in the box you could now see 2/3/4 players wanting the ball in the box and it was scaring the hell out of the Oita defence. Suzuki Jun was playing in the central pair, (rather than as one of the higher 3 I prefer), but was pulling the strings well. His range of passing makes him very good for this role and he looks to play the ball forward giving the defence an easy option to play the ball to him at ‘quarterback’.

Avispa opened the scoring through Hideya (the stand-out player) as he collected a cross from Ushinohama after the youngster did a sublime bit of skill on the right wing. The score was doubled as Shigematsu turned on a ball in the box and surprised the Oita keeper with an early shot to beat him at his near post.

Oita equalised through a header from a set piece as substitute Kasegawa failed to command his box, and then seemed to have equalised through another set piece which was then chalked off for off-side.
Naruoka Sho was again having a decent, if unspectacular game, but had what looked like a nasty injury after challenging for a high ball with the keeper and landing awkwardly. He had to be carried off and was replaced with Yoshihara.

Adding Yoshihara just added more pace and energy and Avispa became far too hot for Oita. The neat passing started to work, and more importantly it started to work in the final 3rd with players breaking into the box. Yutaka got a poacher’s goal as he was first onto a loose ball, Hideya scored another (I think), and then laid one on for Yoshihara to score unopposed from 4m out. The young team was playing with a smile on it’s face, and an energy I haven’t seen from Avispa previously.

Suzuki Jun completed his good game as Captain with a goal as he fired a free-kick inside the near post as the keeper and defence was waiting for a cross.

The youngsters had shown the crowd, the manager, and the rest of the squad that there is real competition for places. Hopefully Shinoda will have taken note and we will be seeing a lot more of some of these players rather than the easy option of playing the more established players each week.

Avispa 6 – 1 Oita
Hideya (2), Shigematsu, Yutaka, Yoshihara, Suzuki Jun~~~~~Oita player.

Avispa squad players thrashed Oita squad players, but that hides the real story. I think the Avispa squad players would have also thrashed the Avispa first XI. I hope Shinoda was watching this and has come to the same conclusions about who should be playing against Shimizu in 4 weeks.

Posted March 27, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Oita (preview)   Leave a comment

On the weekend it was announced when the season would resume (22nd April vs. Shimizu), I get to see the new team for the second time as they play Oita Trinita.

Despite being quite local rivals both of the games I have seen between Avispa and Oita have been pretty dull. Hopefully tomorrow’s game will be a good show. Here are the things which I am looking forward to seeing….

1) Ginger-Min Je combination. The highlight of the game against Niigata was play down the left wing between the 2 little guys who both showed they like to run with the ball and get stuck into the opposition. Ginger (Matsuura) trusted himself to beat anyone one-on-one regardless of where he was on the pitch, and Min Je spent as long in the opposition half as his own from full back.
They will concede goals (like the first against Niigata) but hopefully will score more.

2) The Naruoka Show.
Got himself sent off last week after having what looked like a promising start in the first half. An extra training game does him no harm at all as he tries to link up with the rest of the team. Whether Avispa have any chance of staying up will depend a lot on whether he can start find his feet.

3) The Suzuki solution.
The one player who shouldn’t be looking at this as a friendly match. I love this little guy with his heavenly left foot and hellish stature. It looks like something will happen every time he gets the ball in the opposition half. Play him on the right wing, tell him to cut inside and fill the space with Nakamachi and watch as he screams one in from 30 yards. If he scores 2 in this match then he plays against Shimizu.

Posted March 26, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Preview

Charity match announced   Leave a comment

All games have been cancelled since the earthquake in the League and Cup, but things are starting to look like they may be kicking off again soon with an announcement that the weekend of the 22nd-23rd April should have regular games being played.

Still a month away, but before then there has been a charity game announced against Oita Trinita next Sunday (27th March). Kick-off is at 11am at Level 5 Stadium and is free entry so hopefully lots of people will be able to come along, including some new people.

Presumably they will have charity donation bins at the game to collect money for the earthquake relief fund and seems like a good idea all round.

Posted March 24, 2011 by avispafukuoka in News

Kofu cancelled   Leave a comment

Nothing much to say except that today’s game with Kofu has been canceled, along with every other J1 and J2 game.

One of the biggest earthquakes in history hit Northern Honshu yesterday and the country has more important things to deal with than a game of football.

Posted March 12, 2011 by avispafukuoka in News

vs. Albirex (youtube)   Leave a comment

Highlights package from a Niigata point of view. Can’t find one from Fukuoka so you have to put up with an assessment of Bruno Lopes before seeing the goals, but they get there eventually.

Not very happy viewing, but some positives.

A bit more positive for Avispa fans is the introduction of the J1 team for the game. Lots of new faces, all of whom were better players than those who they replaced last year, including Genki (from what I saw of Matsuura I’d pick him everytime).

Posted March 9, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Albirex (Player ratings)   Leave a comment

Some promising performances on the first day of the season, unfortunately mostly from the new players rather than from guys stepping up from J2.

Kamiyama – 6. Made a couple of good saves after making himself big, but was mainly helped by them not being hit very well by Niigata strikers. At fault for the 2nd goal after first coming out for a cross and then going backwards to leave a free header.

Kim Min Je – 8.
A really good debut. Linked very well with Matsuura in the first half and maintained his pace through the whole game to remain Avispa’s best attacking threat. Allowed #9 to get goal-side for the first goal.

Tatsunori – 6.
Looked solid in the first half, but wasn’t so good in the second as he allowed #9 too much space, especially for the 2nd goal. No attacking threat.

Daiki – 7.
Excellent in the first half, being in control of Bruno Lopes and looking to play the ball out of defence. Needs to stay close to the target man.

Makoto – 6.
Also excellent in the first half, but when you are relying on making key tackles one on one you will always miss a few. Lost Bruno Lopes on the 2nd goal, but it may have been as a result of a call from Kamiyama.

Sueyoshi – 7.
Playing at J2 level in the first 10 minutes, but quickly learned not to lose possession so easily and grew into the game with a couple of shots from outside the box. Uncomfortable at right-back.

Nakamachi – 7. Needed a big game from him today, and it didn’t really arrive. Good throughout, but not the key player he needs to be. Many, many times the ball was headed clear from the Niigata box and there was a big space for Niigata midfield to play in. Him, Naruoka and Sueyoshi need to work out how to fill that as a key factor on whether 4231 can compete with formations using a stricter midfield bank.

Matsuura – 8. Really exciting player. Wants to beat his man all the time, and seems to have the skill and strength to do that. Intricate passing with Kim was the highlight of the game. Showed Hideya and Jogo the intensity you need at J1.

Hideya – 6 Not a bad game, but nothing special either. A surprise choice for right wing ahead of Yusuke, and I’d be more surprised if he was still there next week. Could have changed the game with the best chance for Avispa early which was hit weakly.

Naruoka – 6.
Would have got a 7 if he hadn’t got sent off. The sending off wasn’t entirely his fault, but he should be experienced enough to know not to give shit referees a chance. Had chances and will get better, but will now have to wait before he can gel with the team through suspension.

Jogo – 5.
I understand he is playing as striker when that is probably not his favorite position, but as such he needs to start leading the line a bit better. Did lots of things well, but lacks confidence to be highest up the pitch. Dummied the ball at times he could shoot, and turned to hold up the ball when he just needed to test the keeper.

Shigematsu – 7
Looked energetic and not scared to shoot. I’d definitely have him starting ahead of Jogo up front, but the whole team will need to be adjusted with Naruoka’s suspension.

Suzuki Jun – 6
Only had 10 minutes, and didn’t do anything great. Playing very deep while he is better suited to be up field where he can shoot at goal and try to create.

Yusuke – 6. Had a shot on the break after a good pass from Daiki. Would have hoped to do better, but the game was already gone at that point.

Shinoda – 7. The team was set up well, and I like that fact that Hideya was playing, presumably as a reward for a good pre-season rather than the biggest names. Needs to sort out the big space in the centre of the pitch, both in the opposition penalty box where a striker with presence is needed, and in midfield.

Posted March 6, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Albirex (match report)   Leave a comment

Avispa 0 – 3 Albirex
52′ Michael
69′ Bruno Lopes
79′ Fujita

12 Shots 13
7 Corners 3
3 Yellow 1
1 Red 0

At half-time with the scores at 0-0 I’d said that even if Avispa went on to lose the match there had been enough positives in the game to not really matter. 3 sloppy goals and a red card later I can’t say I was quite so positive.

The game started with Avispa showing off 3 of their new signings in Kim Min Je at left back, Matsuura on the left wing and Sho Naruoka playing in the hole behind Jogo. Shigematsu and Shimizu started on the bench with Hideya a surprising choice for right wing.

In an entertaining opening to the game Kim Min Je and Matsuura were the first to catch the eye with some all action play down the left wing. I was a little concerned by Kim Min Je before the game as he is the only left back we have really so if he didn’t work out there could be problems. I needn’t have worried as his attacking intent, full blooded tackling and willingness to play made him a favorite with the fans within about 10 minutes.
Matsuura is also a player who looks to do something with the ball every time he gets it, even if he is next to his own penalty box. He seems to have the close control and low centre of gravity to pull it off but will surely get caught out at some point during the season.

It was these two combining which led to the first clear chance of the game as a cross from Kim went right across the penalty box to Hideya who should have done better with his shot. Sueyoshi did a little better with a follow up but it went wide.

The game remained open and a chance fell to Naruoka after a headed clearance from a corner on the left, but his shot lacked power. At the other end the Avispa defence were pulling out some great challenges in one-on-one situations to get the better of Niigata’s 3 foreign strikers, and when they did get caught out were thankful of some terrible finishing by the Brazilians. Firstly a horrible slice from the outside of Michael’s foot when it looked like he was trying to be too clever, and then a shot blazed over the bar by debutant Bruno Lopes; both unopposed on about the penalty spot.

The teams went into the break level, with Avispa perhaps enjoying the better of the first half and thankful that what looked like a nasty injury to the lively Matsuura wasn’t bad enough to have him substituted.

Straight from the kick-off in the second half some awful defending from Albirex allowed Naruoka a chance inside the area as he broke through a challenge but he shot tamely. Naruoka wasn’t having an outstanding game, but was picking up enough chances to be called a promising d├ębut. Unfortunately wasn’t getting along with the referee, having picked up a first half yellow card and a regular talking to for innocuous looking challenges.

On 52 minutes the crowd was silenced by the otherwise excellent Kim Min Je being caught on the wrong side of Niigata’s Korean winger who slid a clever ball into Michael in the box who made amends for his bad first half miss by calmly slotting it home in front of the away fans before indulging in a bizarre groin thrusting celebration in front of them.

Rocked by conceding a goal while being the better team Avispa crumbled a little and allowed Niigata their best spell of the game and the score was doubled to 2-0. Set up again by the Korean winger, this time on the left wing, a useful cross was easily headed home by Bruno Lopes after Kamiyama had at first come out for it, then gone back, and allowed a free header from about 5 yards out.

Avispa sent on Shigematsu for Hideya and he looked very good. I’m hoping he gets more of a chance, hopefully at the expense of Jogo who doesn’t seem to realise that he is the lone striker in the team and should be getting on the end of crosses into the box, and not turning back and waiting for support every time he gets the ball in an advanced position.

Shinoda went looking for a goal by throwing on Yusuke and Suzuki Jun and getting Sueyoshi to play as a makeshift right back. The decision almost immediately back-fried when the Korean winger easily cut across the right-back position and had his cross-shot knocked in on the line by someone to give him a hat-trick of assists. I don’t know how it can’t have been off-side, but the referee seemed to be giving Niigata all the decisions all day so it wasn’t surprising to see it allowed.

His worst decsiion was yet to come when he gave Naruoka a second yellow card on debut after he seemed to get fouled on the edge of the box and then got the ball back. Players from both teams seemed fairly mystified as the ball was clearly knocked away in the challenge, but the referee had his day in the Sun as Naruoka could trudge off upset at a sending off on debut.

Lots of positives from the game, Kim Min Je and Matsuura look great, Shigematsu is lively. In my opinion it should have been the draw I predicted, and 3-0 is definitely a harsh scoreline and the Avispa fans gave the team a good reception in acknowledgement of that.

Posted March 5, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Albirex (preview)   Leave a comment

First post in a while as the transfer activity stopped, and a few boring training games with very little new things to say about the squad.
I was going to mention that Suzuki Jun crashed his car, but it didn’t seem that important after I found out that he wasn’t injured at all.

Tomorrow our adventure in J1 starts with a visit from Albirex Niigata. It is only the first game of the season but it is already looking like the sort of game which we should be trying to win, and definitely looking for some points from. All the pundits I have seen have us written down as dead-certs for 20th spot and a good start to the season is imperative.

Albirex are one of the best supported teams in Japan, but haven’t ever reached the top spots of the division. They lost their best player in Marcio Richardes to Urawa Reds in January and will hopefully come to Level 5 Stadium with a bit of a hangover from that.

Regarded as a team with hard-working, organised and skilful players, they have imported Bruno Lopes from Brazil to play up front as something of an unknown quantity. Again, Avispa need to hope he takes a couple of games to adjust to his new surroundings.

Avispa will be a totally new look team, with over half the team likely to be new players. With the Korean student at left-back being the only foreigner in the team maybe they can hit the ground running and get the 3 points.

The bookmakers have the teams as totally even, which is probably about right. The draw is a little higher at 3.30 which would make it the most attractive bet in my opinion. I couldn’t predict which draw, but think both teams would be happy with a point on the first day.

My Prediction:

Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 2 Albirex Niigata

I think that there will be goals, but can’t see Avispa winning on their first game back in the top division. A lot will depend on Naruoka I think. If he can gel the team together and provide some creativity then hopefully the midfield and defence is robust enough to hold the ball at home.

Posted March 4, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Preview