Tokyo Verdy 0 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
It feels so strange and so nice to be able to write a match report when the manger has got everything so right.
Playing against tough opposition, away from home we turned out with the 5 man midfield that we ha been needing in this type of game for so long; and after a season where we finished off losing to Gainare e have now beaten Tokyo Verdy away from home.
It wasn’t just the manager who did well today. Kamiyama was nearly flawless in goal and kept us in the game with a couple of saves early on, Tsutsumi was up for the game and played almost every position on the pitch while showing he could be one of the best players in the division, Nakahara made his debut and put himself about in midfield to not leave any Tokyo players time in 1-on-1 situations.
We played the game with a 4141 formation, which I was surprised and very pleased about. After last season’s defensive fragility the last thing we needed was to start with a mentality of being soft on goals.
Nothing could be further from the truth today as Koga and kazuki were huge at the back, dealing with Takahara and getting their heads to all balls into the box.
We rode our luck at times, but there was alwas a man around to make sure that after getting a loose ball in the box it was an Avispa player getting to it first.
The problem with 4141 was that Jogo was isolated up front, and I’ve said previously that a lone striker role doesn’t suit him, but ishizu tried to support from the left to give Verdy enough to think about to enter the second half goal-less.
Tokyo remained the more likely to score in the 2nd half, with Suzuki Jun hitting the bar from range, but were generally restricted to long range efforts.
The game then swung in through a set piece as a corner came back out to Omata who made a composed cross to the middle of the box where Jogo showed his class in only needing one chance to score a goal.
It was a classic rope-a-dope goal. The defence was solid with Tsutsumi and Omata at full-backs providing solidity and letting the attack know that if you can just squeeze a goal out then we will do the rest.
Tsutsumi showed how happy he was about the whole thing in his celebrations.
Pusnik concluded the half by showing he wasn’t afraid to make decisions on formation and personnel which weren’t expected by putting Sakata on at left wing, and Nishida at right wing, with 18 year old Kanemori getting his debut; but everything just seemed to work.
The players were a lot more ‘street-wise’ when it came to the last 5 minutes, knew their positions at defensive set-pieces, and absolutely ran themselves into the ground in a high press tactic which worked out more often than not.
There were still areas to improve, and Pusnik said as much in his post-game interview. A lot of this was trying to do things a little too quickly, with free-kicks and balls from defence going astray. The team need to know that a quick ball doesn’t mean a rushed ball, but that will come with time. I’d sooned they give the ball away trying to attack than by passing it around 15m outside the penalty area which is what we saw last year.
First game of the season, 3 points and no-one can complain. There was also a delicious post-script to the match when the camera zoomed in for a close-up of Suzuki Jun going through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief at the end of the match.