Archive for June 2012

vs. Ehime FC (preview)   Leave a comment

An away draw against Yokohama would not be seen as a bad result under normal circumstances, but we need to start winning games instead of drawing them if we are in with a chance of getting into the play-offs.

The play-off places are now looking quite solid, with only Oita the semi-surprise team in the top 6 with Kyoto poised to replace them after any slip-ups. It will take a very good second half of the season to overcome the 10 point deficit to 6th, with our many draws turned into wins.

We start the 2nd half of the season with 2 home games in a row, a good way to try and build momentum. the first of these is against Ehime.
Traditionally a mid-table J2 side they beat us at home in a very open game which ended up finishing 4-2. It was Naruoka’s best game of the season, scoring both our goals, and hopefully their quite deep defence will again allow Naruoka and Jogo to find space to play.

The biggest worry for me is that I expect Ehime to come with a 5 man midfield, which will totally flood our problem area of only having a central 2.
If we allow the midfield to be dominated then Koki Arita is a good enough young striker to take the chances falling his way.

Avispa News
Will Maeda be brave enough to find a way to play Ishizu from the start?
he came on against Yokohama and looked a level higher than everyone else in energy and intent, but to play him it would mean dropping Naruoka or Yutaka. More than likely he will be on the bench.

Kobara should stay in defence despite giving away 2 penalties which have cost us 4 points in 2 weeks. Both penalties were very harsh, and against his old club he will hopefully be up for the game. But plaese, pass the ball forward early; let Jogo and Naruoka try to dictate the play.

Really want Kim back, but Omata has done nothing wrong at left back.

Ehime FC news
Ehime don’t seem to have any suspension or injury problems and are coming off the back of a big win against league leaders Tokyo Verdy.

They are still using their 5 man midfield, and after beating Tokyo will remain an unchanged team.
Their big Brazilian defender is good in the air, but not very quick so I’d be hoping for Sakata to play on his shoulder, and the winegrs to be trying to hit the byline and pull balls back rather than cross to the back post.

Koki Arita is the main threat up front, playing as a lone striker and using good movement to break the offside trap.

My Prediction
Avispa 2 – 0 Ehime FC

May as well give up on predictions this season as I have been wrong so often, but an Avispa win offers the best money as we are lower in the table, but on paper should be beating teams like Ehime.

Posted June 30, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Yokohama FC (report)   Leave a comment

Yokohama FC 1 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka
24′ Kaio, 74′ Yutaka

Playing away against a team who have won 7 of their last 8 games, and with our form not very good you would say that we had no chance of getting anything from this game.
The reality was that for the first 20 minutes of the game we were at least matching Yokohama in midfield, with our attack now looking a little anaemic with Yutaka never being a big threat and Sakata being horribly out of form since his injury.

Jumbo is having a great season for Yokohama and was getting lots of flick-ons and making himself big in the box. Kamiyama kept us in the game after about 15 minutes as an attack down the left (Tsutsumi was having a terrible game again, nearly always caught in the middle of centre-back and right-back) ended up in the middle where Jumbo in space had his shot saved.

At the other end Sakata was set free through the middle by Yutaka with a great ball, but having created our first real chance in about 6 games he missed the goal by about 50cm after deftly chipping over the keeper.

Yokohama then took a lead from a penalty which they didn’t deserve. Kobara gave away a second penalty in 3 games, and again it was a very harsh decision. Caught a little behind a forward running into the box, but heading away from goal, when the striker threw himself to the floor after being brushed shoulder to shoulder.
The referee fell for it, and Kaio scored with a well taken penalty.

Avispa went into their shell a little after conceding the goal, and the energy seen in the first 10 minutes disappeared. Yokohama were making more chances than Avispa, with Kamiyama keeping us in the game with a couple of good saves, but there were some chances for an equaliser.
The closest of these were from a free-kick which Suzuki Jun sent narrowly over the bar, and from an attack on the left where Naruoka finally hit the byline and pulled a great ball back for Sakata who in his bad form totally missed the ball.

To finish the half was the worst defending from Avispa of the season as Koga and Kobara got in a mess and Kobara headed back for Jumbo to run at goal and somehow hit the post with only Kamiyama to beat.

The 2nd half started with the referee making another bad decision, this time one which favored Avispa as he missed a handball in the box by Koga after Jumbo climbed highest at a corner.
Avispa were having a few corners of their own, but hitting corners to the back post which no-one comes close to heading nearly always leads to a goal chance for the opposition on the counter.

Avispa were running out of idea and the game was calling out for a substitution. With just 20 minutes left to play Maeda changed things, and the substitution changed the game.
After leaving the pitch in tears after not being able to make a difference against Gifu (even though he did) Ishizu came on and was incredible, exactly what we needed.
Getting the ball and running at defenders, aiming to get into the box and hit shots at goal he was the best Avispa player I’ve seen for 2 months.

With fresh energy Avispa had more space and Yokohama started to tire. Sakata showed he still has the class and got past 2 Yokohama defenders on the right to cross for Yutaka in the box. He still had quite a bit to do, but pulled out a good finish to equalise.

Avispa then looked like they could win the game with Ishizu central to everything good. He hit a good shot on goal from the middle, dribbled into the box 3 times in 5 minutes, crossed for Jogo at the back post who only narrowly missed connecting and then passed for Suzuki to hit well at goal only for Schneider to make a good save at his near post.

As well as Ishizu coming on and for me looking a better option than Naruoka (let alone Yutaka) seeing Suzuki break forwards into the box was really refreshing and something I hope they do from the start against Ehime.

My Man of the Match
Ryuichi Kamiyama.

Ishizu was the guy who came on and changed the game, but if it wasn’t for kamiyama we would have been out of sight before maeda finally decided to change things.
He is having a very good season.

Posted June 25, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Yokohama FC (preview)   Leave a comment

After the depressing showing against Gifu Maeda has kept his job. It might be because we have actually climbed a place in the teable as although we haven’t won many games, we haven’t lost too many either. Unfortunately it was against clubs who are on paper the weakest in the division.

We now go to Yokohama, and I expect to see a couple of changes. Maeda can have no doubt that recent matches have not been good enough, with a couple of the more experienced players really not pulling their weight.

Yokohama are ahead of us in the table, but I still think we should be taking all 3 points against a Yokohama team who really struggled last season, and were looking pretty bad at the start of this season too.
They are made up of a very old bunch of players with Avispa alumni Jumbo being one of their younger players at about 32.
Playing with Jumbo (who has done very well this season) they are quite predictable, aiming high balls and crosses towards his head.

Avispa news

With no suspensions and only Yamaguchi out injured there can be no excuses after this game.
I think (hope) that Yutaka, Sueyoshi and Tsutsumi will be dropped, with Nishida, Suzuki Jun and Wada come in.
Yutaka looks horribly off the pace and Nishida will want to do well against his old club.
Sueyoshi came in for Suzuki Jun’s suspension, and did nothing to justify staying in the team (Maeda singled him out for criticism after Gifu).
Wada was one of our better players until losing his place around when his baby was born. Tsutsumi can do great things, but doesn’t seem to have a very good attitude; so lackadaisical.

Yokohama news
The big question for me is whether Jumbo will be playing. After 8 goals so far this season he will certainly play if fit, but did come off after 59 minutes against Tochigi so I don7t know if he is totally fit.
He will get a good recption from the Avispa fans if he plays, and with our huge problems with crosses and corners he could have a bit of a field day.

Kazu Miura is unlikely to play being more of a figurehead than active player at the club.

My Prediction

Yokohama 0 – 1 Avispa

Having been so bad at predicting this season I should probably stop saying Avispa will win, but I do genuinely think we should be winning this game.

Posted June 22, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview

5 ways to save the season   1 comment

Whether it is for Maeda to try and do, or whoever replaces Maeda, here are 5 ways we can try to save our season and snatch 6th place for a play-off place.

1) Create a midfield
We are being bossed around by teams we should be beating for fun.

I put this down to our formation, and particularly how it leaves just 2 central midfielders who have been over-run in almost all games this season.

I wouldn’t say that 442 is an extinct formation, but it is certainly very hard to play it in the modern game. To make it work now I think you must have a couple of flying wingers, and try to use the wing for most of your attack. While our wingers (Jogo/Naruoka) are very good players, they do not try to beat their full-back and stretch the defence.

This means our defence have very few options when trying to attack, regardless of how patient they are. Our 2 man midfield drop even deeper to try and get the ball which leaves an even bigger space in midfield.

We need to play a more modern formation, and one which helps to bolster our midfield. My choice would be a fluid 433/451 with Naruoka playing centrally, with Sueyoshi coming in for the harder teams.


2) Call time on Yutaka

I have no idea why he was made Captain at the start of the season, but he hasn’t been worth a place in the team for 2 seasons now.
His first touch is poor, he doesn’t have the pace to stretch a team, and has only scored 3 goals in 2 years.

By adding to midfield you need to drop one of the strikers, and in Yutaka we have someone who offers very little to the team. If he was a 22 year old who was going to get better I would give him more chance, but he will be worse next season not better.

3) Practice some new corners

We have had a lot of corners this season and apart from a goal from a cleared corner haven’t scored, or looked like scoring all season.

Of all our (many) corners there hasn’t been a single short corner, or even any variation on a ball aimed at the back post for one of the central defenders to head back across goal.

At the very least we should have 2-3 different short corners. One played very short to change the angle of delivery, one which sees Suzuki Jun give and go before firing a shot in from the edge of the penalty area. Naruoka is always on the edge of the box waiting for the cleared ball, why don’t we have a routine which actually uses him.
Sample short corner
Suzuki -> Sakata ->Suzuki -> Naruoka

In our promotion season we tried the ‘Tottenham’ corner at least once a game, with Nakamachi hitting the shot from the near post. That corner has now disappeared.

4) Give youth a chance
Ishizu could not have done more than he has this season. Every time he has come on he has played with energy, heart and seemed like he will do anything to get a win for the fans.
Last season Ushinohama was a revelation, Hatamoto came in and did really well, Yoshihara has been a pro for 3 years now.

If (as is looking likely) we won’t get promotion this season we should at least get some experience for our young players who could be the future for the club. They cannot do any worse than Yutaka, and might do a whole lot better.

5) Attack
The last 25 minutes of the game against Gifu were characterised by shouts you could hear in the stadium, and on the TV broadcast of fans, coaches and even players shouting “Mae” (Forward).

It should not have taken until the last 25 minutes to be thinking of getting the ball forward. We have great attacking talent.
In Kim and Oh we have full-backs who have the confidence and skill to run up and down the wing all match. Use them.

Why are we scared to attack teams like Gifu from the first whistle?

When you get the ball into the penalty area things will happen. Even if we end up losing games and not reaching the play-offs at least the fans will have some fun watching exciting football this season.

Posted June 20, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Opinion

vs Gifu (report)   Leave a comment

Avispa 0 : 0 FC Gifu

The last time I saw Gifu at Level-5 they beat us 2:0, so I suppose I could be pleased we came away with a point, but in fact this game felt even worse.

Gifu turned up without even being able to name a full bench, and with a goal-keeper who looked very dodgy, even in the warm-up.
With what could be argued to be Maeda’s best team it looked like we should be able to get a fairly comfortable win. What happened was anything but comfortable, and Gifu are probably the more disappointed team after hitting the bar, having a ball cleared off the goal-line, and 2 goals disallowed.

In reply Avispa didn’t manage a single shot on target against a team which started the game with a 4141 formation and their 3rd choice goal-keeper.

Again the problem for Avispa was in midfield. Time and time again the ball was being passed from left-to-right-to-left across our defence, sometimes with Okada and Sueyoshi dropping back to leave absolutely no-one in the centre.
After a couple of minutes of this a long diagonal ball would be played to Jogo who with no support in midfield had no options but to pass back to the defence. We must have had 65% possession at least and didn’t create a single clear chance all match.

As soon as Gifu’s defence got the ball they would pass forward, usually into a big open space in the middle of the pitch. If the ball did end up being turned over to Avispa they had nothing to fear as it wouldn’t result in an Avispa attack, just more sideways passing.

As I said in my preview we needed attacking fullbacks to allow Jogo and Naruoka to push a little narrower and have options on the outside. It would have been unfair to drop Omata as he was probably our best player, and the one player who you could see was getting frustrated by our inability to pass forward.

As the match wore on Maeda made some attacking substitutions, not with any real change in plan, just hoping something might happen. Ishizu looked good when he came on for Yutaka, deserves to start on this evidence, running at defenders and adding some energy.
Nishida didn’t change much, and Samir had no time.

I feel this should be Maeda’s last game, he has certainly lost the crowd, and has created a system which is boring to watch and produces few chances. Looking at the last few games (of which we should have won all of them)…
vs. Tochigi SC : never looked like scoring across a game played on 2 different days.
vs. Kateller Toyama : Scored in the last 5 minutes to sneak a win after creating nothing all game.
vs. Fagiano Okayama : Lucky to get a draw, boring home game with very few chances.
vs. Thespa Kusatsu : Lost, never looked like scoring.
vs. Giravanz Kitakyushu : Lucky to get a win. Scored our only chance.
vs. Matsumoto Yamaga : Scored 2, but both were freak goals not from our good play.
vs. Gifu : 0-0 draw having failed to get a shot on target.

The formation is wrong. The players aren’t working. We are in danger of finishing in the bottom half of the table which could damage us for the next 3-4 seasons.

Posted June 17, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. FC Gifu (preview)   Leave a comment

After a run of ‘weaker’ teams in which Avispa haven’t done great they face perhaps the weakest team in the division tomorrow as FC Gifu travel down the Chugoku highway to Level -5 stadium.

It should result in a straight-forward win for Avispa, but nothing has been straight-forward for Avispa this season, and Gifu have already shown they are well capable of a shock result after they beat form team in the division JEF United a couple of weeks ago.

As with the Giranvanz game last weekend I think that anything other than a win for Avispa might be Maeda’s last game at the club.

Avispa News
There will be one change for Avispa as Samir drops back out of the team and Naruoka returns after suspension. Samir didn’t do badly against Yamaga, we were winning when he left the pitch, and he might make the bench if he isn’t injured.

I’d like to see Minje play at left back as we need to attack teams like this, but Maeda will probably be more conservative. Similarly I’d play Oh at right-back, but think that if there is a change it will be Wada coming in for Tsutsumi.

Apart from Naruoka coming in our midfield will stay the same, Okada- Suzuki-Jogo.

Yutaka did enough to stay in the team up front, and Sakata will be eager to get some goals after a lean spell.

Gifu news
Gifu’s team is mostly made up of players who have played a handful of games at other clubs within the J-League and then stepped down to Gifu to get more regular games.
J2 is about their level, rather than bright young things who will be hoping to leave the club for bigger things soon.

They keep things simple as a team, and are likely to concentrate on not conceding as a top priority.

My prediction

Avispa 3 – 0 Gifu

Something has to give at some point this season. I thought Gainare was the truning point, then Tokushima looked like it might kick-start things. Hopefully things will click today with Sakata getting back in the goals.
Would love to see someone get their first goal for the club, there are plenty of people to choose from.

Posted June 15, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. KitaKyushu and Matsumoto   Leave a comment

Apologies for a lack of updates recently. With the start of recruitment season I’m on long days at work with only 1 day off every couple of weeks.

vs. Giravanz Kitakyushu

As I predicted Kobara was brought back into the team for this game. It shouldn’t be seen as a failure by Tokio, he has done amazingly well this season, but raher an opportunity for some rest to avoid burn-out.

The defence looked better than it has recently, although I’m not really very impressed with Tsutsumi, he looks a bit lackadaisical at times.
In midfield Okada came back in, and provided the running and energy we have been missing at times, providing an excellent shield for defence. This allowed the wingers to play with a bit more attacking intent, with Naruoka Sho in particular having a very busy game.

After playing well in the first half we scored just before half-time with Jogo getting his 6th of the season, playing back on the wing. Avispa were passing the ball around in the opposition half for a change, with Naruoka taking up a central position. As annoying as it can be that he always leaves his wing he has the quality to unlock a defence.
Spotting Jogo’s run to the back post he chipped a perfect ball over the defence for Jogo to side-foot home and take a deserved lead.

The 2nd half was played like a real derby. Suzuki Jun in particular getting into the spirit of things. As is often the case with derbies the frantic pace made things a bit scrappy and neither team looked much like scoring to leave the game at 1-0.

The only other point of note being Naruoka picked up a yellow card very harshly for time wasting which meant he missed the Yamaga game. I real shame after one of his best games of the season.

My Man of the Match : Sho Naruoka

vs. Matsumoto Yamaga
Our stretch of games I thought we needed to win has resulted in wins against Toyama and Kitakyushu, a loss to Thespa, and a draw with Fagiano.
Not good enough for a play-off place, but could be made to look a lot better with an away win at Matsumoto.

With Naruoka suspended Samir came in for a rare start with a good performance meaning he would probably be on the bench against Gifu, or even up front instead of Yutaka.

Rather than push on after out win in the Fukuoka derby we conceded a goal direct from our corner. With Koga and Kobara pushed forward Yamaga luckily got the ball and raced up field in attack.
Faced with Samir to slow the attack he slipped on the edge of the box and a cross to the back-post was easily converted.
It was a sucker-puch goal, but one which should have been stopped, and shouldn’t mean that Koga and Kobara don’t go forward for corners. The same situation happened later in the match with Min Je as the man back and he dealt with the counter much better.

Conceding a goal in the 8th minute is a quite good time to concede a goal and gave us chance to fight back.
We weren’t making a lot of chances, but then scored through ridiculous fashion. A long ball forward was headed back to the keeper by a Yamaga defender under pressure from Jogo, only for the ball the slip perfectly inside the far post for an equaliser.

We then took the lead with an incredible goal, again out of almost nothing.
Passing the ball around our own half the Yamaga keeper came a little off his line (possibly out of boredom), but regretted it as Jogo picked up the ball well inside our half and lobed the keeper from 65 yards.
It was further out than when Beckham did the same against Wimbledon, and must be in the running for goal of the season. I have seen him attempt it once before and would have loved it to happen in a home game to witness it live.

Avispa then started to look a little more confident, but by the mid^point of the half had only had 4 shots on goal despite bossing possesion. Yamaga were seeing less of the ball but making more chances.
The 2 significant chances we did have were once when Samir burst into the box but got the ball caught under his feet a little and may have injured himself in the process, and when Sakata turned on a low ball into the box but saw his shot return off the cross-bar.
Sakata has had a big loss in form which is a real shame. He is now joined on 7 goals for the season by Jogo, a good return, but one which he picked up in the first 10 games of the season before his injury.

Matsumoto didn’t look like scoring, but were then awarded a very soft penlty. Kobara judged to have fouled in the box. There was a little arm tussling, but no contact near the feet, but the referee got tricked as the Yamaga played dived to the floor and won a penalty which resulted in a disappointing 2-2 draw.

My Man of the Match : Hisashi Jogo

Posted June 15, 2012 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports