Archive for July 2011

vs. Nagoya Grampus (preview)   3 comments

The 2 games last week were probably the worst 2 performances of the season so far, failing to break down a Montedio team who were on a terrible run of form, and then total capitulation against Jubilo Iwata in the Cup had a few of the players looking like they have accepted relegation.

Things are going to get even harder tomorrow as league champions Nagoya come down to Fukuoka. Last season they based their Championship winning team on a strong defence, but it is their attack which worries me more this season with Josh Kennedy maintaining an aerial threat and Tamada seeming to have been galvanised into the best season of his career by the arrival of Kensuke Nagai.
I don’t know what sort of reception Nagai is going to get, I still think he should have come to us for a season to get 90 minutes every game.

In the away match we gave Nagoya a real scare before eventually conceding 3 goals in the last few minutes to end up on the wrong end of a big score-line. On that night Hideya played well and I think he might come into the team in place of Matsuura who picked up a bit of a knock at the end of the game against Jubilo.

Daiki was missed against Jubilo, and Kamiyama is sure to return to the bench after his terrible mistake. Left-back is an interesting position with Kim Min Je back from injury, but Wada starting to play quite well in his absence. I’d take Kim as he was one of our best players throughout the start of the season.

This game is the first of a really difficult run of games, and one of the last ones before we are allowed to play Ramazotti. Naruoka and Jogo should be playing out of their skin to see who gets to partner him against Gamba later in the month.

My Prediction.

Avispa 1 – 3 Nagoya

We will play much better than in the games last week, and Nakamachi will get a goal, but the attacking strength of Nagoya and their run towards the top of the table means anything other than a defeat is unlikely.

Posted July 30, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Preview

Post match Nabisco Cup   Leave a comment

I’ve not been writing reports on Cup matches as they are seen as a bit of a distraction to the League in Japan rather than a meaningful competition, but the match last night showed a couple of things which must be addressed if we have any chance of staying up in the league.

1) Rafael Ramazotti
Avispa have been trying to play this season with no presence in the penalty box. While it looks very nice when it works, and shows some admirable ambition, probably only the current Barcelona team and Ajax from the 70s have ever been successful with no striker.
Getting a 1.93m striker should change the way we play entirely.

There were times last night when there were acres of space in the corner for either of our wingers to run into, but instead they went narrow or cut inside trying to play a short passing game with Naruoka and failing completely.

With a tall penalty box presence I want to see a more direct game making full use of the pitch, and using the two pacy, skilful wingers we have at the club.

2) J2 level players
Unfortunately a few of the players are now showing themselves to be unable to step up to J1 level. The time for bad luck and lack of confidence is over, now that the initial heart and fight has gone some of the players are clearly not good enough and at times last night seemed to have given up.
They are obviously good enough for J2, they got promotion last season and could have a very nice career in football, but are not going to be able to play consistently at the top level. If Avispa are going to play at the top level they have to make some difficult decisions.

Kamiyama – Consistency is the most important trait for a goalkeeper, and it is something Kamiyama cannot do. Another horrible mistake last night allowed Jubilo to score from their own half at a time when we were on top.

Suzuki Jun – No-one is more disappointed than me; I spent lots of last season saying he should be getting more of a chance, but he is now showing why he didn’t. Wasn’t trusted to hold a spot in J2, and while he still has massive ability in his feet he just sisn’t doing enough elsewhere to command a J1 spot.

Sueyoshi – Did very well to walk into the team from University and cement a first team spot, but needed to make a similar step up again to get to J1 midfield level. At the moment I think his performances are similar to last year, he is capable of some good moments when in control of the ball but needs to help out much more defensively.

3) Top players step up
Some of the players we have are clearly J1 quality, but need to be playing their heart out to bring the team on, and help the others to raise their games.
A few of these players were on the bench yesterday so I could watch them for a bit longer in their warm-up and was amazed at some of the things they were doing. I thought Yutaka’s freekick against Verdy was a once in a life-time event, but he smashed in 2 similarly unstoppable shots from the same range, and then hit the bar with another 2. Nakamachi scored 3-4 volleys in a row from much harder crosses than the one he skied against Hiroshima. Shigematsu was finding the corner consistently, and then took a shot from kick-off when he came on for the actual game.

These top players need to start playing to the top of their ability when they come on, at times yesterday they looked disinterested after they came on (although the team was already 4-0 down on aggregate so can’t really be blamed).

Posted July 28, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

Rafael Ramazzotti   Leave a comment

We lost the game against Yamagata while I was at work, and I am quite pleased I missed it as we played pretty badly by most accounts and couldn’t break the Montedio defence despite having a bunch of chances.

Help with this might be at hand as there are strong rumours we will be signing a new Brazilian striker, arriving from Gil Vicente FC who have recently been crowned Champions in the Portuguese 2nd division. The news has been broken by Nishinihon news who are also new additions to the club having announced a sponsorship deal at the Yamagata match, claiming that it shows they are true supporters to be coming to the club while we are doing so badly.

It is quite difficult to get much information on Rafael Ramazzotti, he has been deemed so low profile that wikipedia deleted his profile page, but I’ve looked through various places to try and get some information.

He looks to be a target man striker being 193cm tall, and is only 81kg so is not a big brute of a guy. He started his career with Palmeiras, but never rose above the B team before transferring to Gil Vicente where he was used as a substitute striker during their promotion season.

Gil Vicente scored a bunch of goals en-route to promotion, of which he seems to have got 8, which is a pretty decent return for someone who wasn’t getting more than 20-30 minutes every couple of games.

He is only 22, so could be a real prospect. I hope that they have managed to get him on a 2 season contract as it is going to be too much to expect him to immediately score the goals to keep us in J1, but has enough about him to look like he might be able to score a hatful and be exactly the type of player we need as a penalty box presence in J2 next year.

Found this video of him from his Palmeiras days when his agent was presumably trying to get him a break..

Here is some trivia on the guy in a SHOOT! magazine style:
Date of Birth : 9th August 1988

Place of birth : S. Caetano do Sul – Sao Paulo, Brazil

Marital Status : Married

Previous clubs : Santo Andre, Valenciennes, Palmeiras, Gil Vicente FC

Dream as a child : To be a professional footballer

Childhood idol : Ronaldo

Hobbies : Travelling with his wife, video-games, listening to music

Favorite Movie : Clash of the Titans

Dream Car : BMW X6

Favorite drink : Fanta

Favorite food : Steak

Best ever footballer : Pele

Best footballer today : Cristiano Ronaldo

Favorite holiday : Anywhere with his wife and family

Unfulfilled dream : To be a father, play for a football club in Europe*(questions asked last season)

Posted July 27, 2011 by avispafukuoka in News

vs. Montedio Yamagata (preview)   Leave a comment

The game on Sunday will have one issue perhaps above all others; the return of Jumbo Okubo. After playing for us for 3 seasons, and scoring goals at times when no-one else was he was released by Avispa at the end of last season and promptly went on to sign for relegation rivals Yamagata.

I wasn’t his biggest fan, and was quite pleased when he left, but having then started the season without replacing him and playing with no penalty box presence for most of this season there are times I’ve wanted him back.

I don’t know the exact reasons for his departure, but expect him to get a very good welcome from the Avispa fans on his return rather than the mauling that Genki got.

The actual match is a full on relegation dog-fight with both teams cut adrift at the bottom of the table. I’d be inclined to call it a 6-pointer, but that implies that either team has something to gain by winning the match when in all likelihood they’ll still both get relegated 17th and 18th at the end of the season regardless of results.

If Avispa are to get out of their trouble then they must win games like this. A win here would lift them off the bottom of the table, and they are probably clear favorites for the first time this season. While Avispa are on a run of their best form of the season, Montedio are in free-fall and playing like a team bereft of ideas (pretty much what I would expect from a team with Jumbo as the striker).

Avispa will be able to win if they can get behind a very strong, but not particularly mobile backline and force Yamagata to open up a bit in search of a goal. Defensively they are likely to be under a whole raft of high balls and need to be able to take the advantage in these.

My Prediction

Avispa 2 : 0 Yamagata

Unfortunately it will be the first home game of the season I will miss as I have to work. I expect us to win this with our current form with the two wingers being crucial. Jogo and Matsuura to score after getting beyond the full backs and pulling balls back.

Posted July 22, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs Sanfrecce Hiroshima (ratings)   Leave a comment

Rokutan – 8 Probably the best game I have seen him play for us. Not faultless, but blocked a couple of good shots well and claimed a bunch of deep balls with no problems.

Wada – 7 Mikic gave him some problems at times, but he made a couple of really good last ditch tackles which probably stopped a goal.

Tatsunori – 8 Close to a 9. Similar to Wada he made a few last ditch tackles and blocks in the area, and kept his wing quiet for nearly all the game.

Daiki – 8 Limited a talented front line to a handful of clear chances. Won’t face many better strikers, and generally got the better of Lee throughout the game.

Kobara – 7 Played well again, without being as clearly dominant as Daiki. I’d like to see him be a bit more threatening from offensive free-kicks.

Sueyoshi – 7 Made a couple of bad decisions, and still not doing enough when off the ball, but his long diagonal balls are starting to find a good range.

Nakamachi – 8 Again showed what we have been missing by breaking into the box. Needs more matches to get fully match fit, he would have buried his early chance last season. Played the full 90, but it is important he is looked after until he is fully fit.

Yusuke – 8 Good in attack and helping a lot in defence. Confident enough to shoot when in the box but he probably should have pulled it back. made up for that with a great cross in the last minute which could have got all 3 points.

Naruoka – 7 Playing better, and definitely the one I would take if I had to choose between him and Jogo. Got a couple of shots on goal and fought well. I’m still not convinced he is match fit.

Matsuura – 7 Works hard, but never really looks like providing the end product; be that a goal or an assist. Should be trying to take 2 players out of the game with his skill, but often can’t get past 1.

Jogo – 6 Still in a difficult situation of being asked to play leading the line when he isn’t suited to do so. Had a good chance to score when through on goal, but doesn’t cause enough problems in the box. There are very few teams who can play without a penalty box presence, we are not one of them.

Yutaka – 6 A real striker, but doesn’t have what we need at the moment and probably wasn’t good enough for this level at his peak.

Shigematsu – 7 When he is on the pitch we look like we can score. I think he is a 1 in 3 chance striker, not the finished article but a far higher ratio than any other option.

Hideya – 5 Came on and looked exhausted despite not playing a lot of minutes. He was like this at times last season: playing with little energy when he should be demanding to be in the team. Maybe he thinks it isn’t worth trying after being left out after scoring 2 goals.

Shinoda – 6 Getting points, but in our current situation we need to start getting 3 points. Big game next weekend with Montedio where he needs to get some goals.

Posted July 20, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima (youtube)   Leave a comment

Terrible set of highlights which I assume have been put together by a Sanfrecce fan seeing as they haven’t included Shigematsu hitting the inside of the post in the last minute, but until I find something better they will have to do.

Posted July 19, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Sanfrecce Hiroshima (report)   Leave a comment

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka

Avispa came into this game on the back of their best form of the season having win a couple of games in recent weeks, and fielding a team which is probably close to the first choice of the manager. Sanfrecce in comparison had seen their performances dip a little after a good start to the season, but went into the game without their manager on the bench who had been taken ill.

A clear winner wasn’t obvious, and it showed in the opening exchanges as the game was played largely in midfield with chances being distributed equally between the two teams in the first half. The best chance probably fell to Nakamachi who arrived into the box to meet a ball on the volley about 8 yards out in a central position, only to blaze over the bar. Other than that Avispa’s chances were largely limited to long shots from Matsuura and Sueyoshi, although Sueyoshi probably should have passed as 5 players were breaking forward while he chose to shoot from well outside the box when facing a NT keeper.
Hiroshima had a couple of good chances with balls being crossed into the box, and shot across goal, but Rokutan was having a good game claiming crosses and making a couple of decent saves from distance.

The teams went in level, both in score and in chances, and continued in a similar vein after the break. The game was starting to be summed up by patient build-up onto the wings, only for a cross to be wildly over-hit or lobbed up to the goal-keeper. Mikic for Sanfrecce was most guilty of this, getting into some decent positions a couple of times and then hitting crosses about 10m over the penalty box.

The game was calling out for some directness and it got almost as direct as you can get after a long ball upfield was misjudged by Hiroshima’s central defender allowing Jogo to run through on goal. He got his shot on target, but tried to place the ball to the keeper’s right rather than leather it and it was well saved.
At the other end Mikic continued to be the most lively attacking player for Hiroshima, but had very poor end product. He may well score a couple of screamers this season, but in this game alone he skied enough to not really make his ambitious shots at the far post worth it.

Avispa then nearly caught out Hiroshima with some diagonal balls across to the right side of the box. The first falling to Jogo who tried to pick out Naruoka at the back post when he probably should have shot, and then to Yusuke in a wider position who tried to sneak one in with the outside of his boot when he probably should have tried to shoot.

The longer the game went on the more inevitable it seemed that Hiroshima would score, and they nearly did after an Avispa corner when players were committed forward and a fast break saw Tadanari Lee running with the ball on the edge of the box. Stopping to try to force one past the keeper from the edge of the box it was well saved by Rokutan.

Both teams were looking like they might be able to scrape a goal out from somewhere and Avispa came closest to getting it after 3 minutes of injury time as a cross floated to the back post was well met by Shigematsu’s head. Timing his jump well he beat the keeper with a bullet header, only to see the ball bounce off the inside of the post and out. It could have just as easily gone in, or fallen straight to an Avispa player to knock in the rebound, but it is symptomatic of Avispa’s luck at times this season it bounced to safety and was cleared.

Avispa need to start getting 3 points in games like this if they are to get themselves out of this mess, but in any other circumstance it was a good away draw.

Posted July 19, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Hiroshima Sanfrecce (preview)   Leave a comment

Avispa are on a bit of a role! After getting the monkey of 13 straight defeats off our back we have now won 2 and drawn another of the games.

It asks the question of how the season could have been different. If you consider the games we are now playing to be week 5 we could have been in the situation of played 5, won 2, drawn 1, with the league table looking very different.

It isn’t entirely dissimilar to last season where we had a terrible start to the season and then found the team over the summer.

After beating one of the J1 clubs we beat in the Emperors Cup last season (Omiya) we now face the other (Hiroshima). We beat them last season, but only after extra time and penalties which may suggest that a draw is the most likely outcome tonight.

Avispa will be playing with close to their first team as Nakamachi should be in the team and with 2 games under his belt to get back to full fitness. Naruoka has found the goal twice in recent matches and will hopefully be full of confidence for this game.

There are lots of rumours about us getting a foreign player/striker during the Summer break so maybe Jogo will be trying hard to remind the manager than he should be first choice striker.

My Prediction

Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka

Very optimistic. Realistically I expect Tadanari Lee to rip us apart, but with the current run of form and Yamagata to play next week i don’t want to bring a downer onto things.

Posted July 18, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Omiya Ardija (ratings)   Leave a comment

Another win, so probably above average ratings for this season from today.

Rokutan – 7 Made one really good and important save in the first half to deny Rafael after he had burst into the box. Him keeping a clean sheet was probably as much to do with Rafael’s poor finishing as his good keeping. Will stay as first choice.

Wada – 7 Still breaking forward whenever he can, and is over-lapping Matsuura well. decent at crossing, but not massively threatening.

Tatsunori – 7 Playing his 200th game, and all-round good servant to the club. Pulling his weight and helps the team fight as a whole with his energy.

Daiki – 6 Not great, but kept a clean sheet so did well enough. Not the stand-out player he can sometimes be.

Kobara – 6 Playing on a similar level to Daiki which is a pretty good achievement. Not stopping all chances, but it is unrealistic to expect him to having stepped up already from Ehime.

Sueyoshi – 6 Back in the central 2 from last year he looked a lot more comfortable than he has. I still want to see more running and hard tackles from him. Suzuki Jun is an able replacement if he gets suspended again. At the moment I think he is more likely to get booked for blocking or time-wasting than for giving someone a good kick.

Nakamachi – 8 Still not match fit, but drove the team and filled the big space which has been on the pitch for many games this season. Has a directness which brings another attacker into the box, while also tackling and having the class to work with Naruoka and Jogo. Very important to stay fit.

Yusuke – 7 Helping out in defence well. Used his pace on a couple of occasions, I’d still like to see him bombing on at every chance because he won’t be caught.

Naruoka – 7 Scored a really classy goal, and he will score more in his career, but needs to be alongside a real out-and-out goal-scorer who gives him the runs to pick out. Him and Jogo doesn’t have enough goals.

Matsuura – 6 Was urging him to turn his defender and run for a ball over the top but he is insistent on getting the ball with his back to goal and looking for Wada or Naruoka to run past. I like him away, but at home would like Hideya to start.

Jogo – 6 Some good running today, but never really looked like scoring. Tries a few cute little things which look fantastic when they work out, but we are bottom of the table and need grit. There are rumours we are getting a foreign striker in the summer, if we do then Jogo may be behind Naruoka to partner him at the moment.

Suzuki Jun – 6 Came on, did fine, nothing special.

Shigematsu – 6 Would have liked to see him come on earlier as a defensive substitution. A more attack minded player than Jogo, but his energy breaks up opponent moves before they start.

Hideya – 6 Had a good chance to score a really nice goal on the volley but snatched at it a bit.

Shinoda – 7 Found a winning team, and to be fair to him it is the first time in a while he can play close to his first team. Not sure what is going on with Matsuuda and Hideya; having scored 2 goals after coming on last week I think Hideya is entitled to think he should get a chance, but possibly Matsuuda/Jubilo have been tempted by the loan on the promise of a first team role.

Posted July 18, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs. Omiya Ardija (youtube)   Leave a comment

Another win to enjoy the highlights from.

Naruoka Sho showing some class to score a nice goal. Couple of big misses from Omiya and Rokutan making the big save in teh first half.

Posted July 17, 2011 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights