Archive for May 2013

vs. Gifu (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa 2 : 1 Gifu

66′ Sakata (pen), 67′ Tanaka, 85′ Nishida

I’d been saying in the match report against Toyama that we had been on the rough end of a few refereeing decisions this season, but definitely felt we got a few in our favour in this match.

In the preview I’d been saying that Gifu would probably be a bit of an easier match than we’d had in the last month, but it turned out to be anything but. Gifu have been something of a bogey team for us (I’ve never seen us beat them; and still haven’t due to missing this game for Sports Day), and they more than held their own in the first half.

They were set up with 3 at the back (which we have struggled with this year), and I was actually quite impressed with Desmond being quite dynamic in the middle of it. They came closest to scoring in the first half as a corner was headed into the ground and was headed at the top corner but Miyamoto was well placed to head clear.

Pusnik was clearly not happy, and made what I hope isn’t going to turn into a habit by giving 19 year old Kanemori a public dressing down by substituting him after 42 minutes. The attack hadn’t been linking with midfield at all, but he could have kept him on until half-time if he wasn’t happy, but chose to publicly embarrass a 19 year old kid in his rookie season when no-one ever expected him to be doing as well as he has.
He was shouting “What are you doing? What are you doing?”, with the general idea being that he wasn’t happy with him trying to dribble in the wrong places, but I’m of the opinion that you don’t do this in public. I hope that in time Pusnik is proved to have a better idea on what is better to deal with Kanemori than I.

In the second half Ishizu started to have more impact than his ineffective first half, pulling a foul from the Gifu #23 as they jumped for the ball together and he collected an arm in the face in an action which would later have a big impact on the game.

Sakata was playing well in his first game as Captain in his career, but at times looked to be doing too much (if that is possible!). He needs to be playing as the constant goal-threat in my opinion, but was often dropping back and trying to get the ball from deeper. Great for the team, but then leaving us a little anaemic in attack.

After 57′ the #23 for Gifu (Moriyasu) made another fairly reckless challenge as he caught Funeyama a bit late, and a bit from behind and got himself sent off. Both yellow cards could have been deemed yellow, but picking up 2 ‘could be’ yellow cards to get sent off was a bit rough on Gifu in my opinion.
To get an opposing viewpoint of the game have a look at the “We are Gifu” site, whose author seems to be very gracious about the decisions.We are Gifu

The emphasis was then on Avispa to attack, and it was again Ishizu in the middle of things. Picking the ball up 10m outside the box he dribbled direct at goal (with the sort of directness he gives us and we often need) and ended up going down just inside the box after riding a couple of challenges.
I think the forward who fouled him was probably trying to foul him outside the box, but Ishizu did well to get just over the line before taking a fall. Again it was a decision which Gifu fans couldn’t really complain about, but after getting 2 maybe calls for the sending off it was a 3rd for a penalty.

Sakata scored with ease from the spot.

As has happened a few times this season we then conceded within 2 minutes. It must drive Pusnik crazy that having settled upon this Counter-Attack type strategy where you are trying to get your goal to protect, the team cannot hold a lead for longer than 5 minutes.

Gifu piled forward with their 10 men and a header back towards the box from a second ball dissected perfectly between centre-back and Omata to play through the Gifu right-back who had taken a punt on staying forward after a Gifu free-kick.

The Avispa players seemed to know that drawing against 10-man Gifu was not going to be taken well by anyone and started to really pile forward, to the extent that we were very lucky not to get caught out.
After a 20-30 pass move to get near the Gifu box they dispossed us on the egde of the box and played a 2 pass move to leave their forward able to cut onto his left foot inside the box, and should have finished rather than hitting Tsutsumi covering back.

Fortunately for us we got a corner from one of our attacks and an Omata corner was forced home by Nishida rising over a couple of Gifu defenders.
He’s been due a goal, and clearly loves the game, I just wish he was a little bit better at football.

There was enough time for Avispa to be on the end of another favorable refereeing decision as Desmond piled forward as a make-shift striker and looked to have a good shout for a hand-ball when heading in on goal on the edge of the box, but it just wasn’t Gifu’s day.

My Man of the Match – Daisuke Sakata
Didn’t get the hattrick I wanted, but did put himself all over the pitch in a real Captain’s performance.
It did need a second striker to lead the line at times he was doing it, but maybe that’s a job for Osmar.

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Posted May 29, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. FC Gifu (preview)   2 comments

After what were probably the weakest opponents so far this season last week we will face the team who already look favorites for a possible relegation this season as FC Gifu come down to Fukuoka.

We haven’t had the best of times against Gifu, and I’ve actually never seen us beat them at home as we lost in 2010 and drew in 2012, but it would be a real surprise to not get all three points tomorrow.

Gifu are one of the smallest teams in the division, and are actually going through some financial difficulties at the moment too. I hope they do manage to get themselves a few points this season as they are one of the clubs who if they did get relegated may find it hard to ever come back up again.

Avispa News

Pusnik has been rotating the team quite a lot as the weather gets warmer. I don’t know if this is to try and keep players fresh, or keep all the squad involved in the first team, or as a reward for performances in training, but expect to see a new starting line-up this week.

One player who will definitely be absent is Osamr who picked up his 4th yellow card of the season having probably been on the pitch for less than 180 minutes so far.
It’s a shame as he has looked very lively when he has come on, but will hopefully see Sakata back in the team and getting chances to build his confidence further.

I’d like to see MinJe at left-back as Gifu are going to sit back and try to defend, but he seems to be out of favor and Omata will continue at left-back. Miyamoto will probably come in at right-back to give more offence than Tsutsumi, with Tsutsumi playing with Koga in the middle.

Park played in the anchor role last match, and didn’t really offer too much, so I’d like to see Nakahara back to have a chance to dictate against weaker opposition. If he isn’t then Okada plays the role better than Park.

Attack will likely see Kanemori and Ishizu each side of Sakata.

Gifu News.

Gifu have been having a tough time putting a team out in recent weeks, being unable to even name a full bench for the last few games.
Things might be even harder tomorrow as it looked like Desmond may have pulled a muscle at centre-back last game and will either miss the game or be coming back from injury.

In midfield and attack they have players who will try, but you’d really hope wouldn’t cause too many problems.

My Prediction.

Avispa Fukuoka 3 – 0 FC Gifu

Hat-trick for someone would be nice, Ishizu is one a run of goals, but getting some for Sakata would do more to help the team than anything else.

Posted May 25, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Kataller Toyama (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Kataller Toyama 1 : 2 Avispa Fukuoka.
13′ Ishizu, 14’Kokeguchi, 83′ Funeyama

Avispa stayed in touch with th eteams in the play-off spots by getting a good away victory against Toyama.
It wasn’t the prettiest of results, but any away victory is good and will hopefully start us off on a run of wins against some of the lower level teams in the division.

It was a game with lots of positives, but also not an over-whelming success….

Positive 1: We got an away win in the pouring rain, in what can be a quite awkward stadium to play at.

Negative 1: It was never a very convincing victory against what were probably the worst opposition I have seen so far this season.

Positive 2: Like our last away victory against Yokohama FC we played a few players who are probably considered on the fringe of the squad, rather than the biggest wage earners. They all did OK, and the team had a very youthful look to it in some corners.

Negative 2: It is possible to tinker with the team too much. While some level of rotation is good I think the team need a spell of consistency and playing together to get comfortable in the new tactic and formation.

Positive 3: We finally scored a corner! After a whole season of floating ineffective balls at the far post we had one whipped to the near post and scored. We tried different things at corners and looked a lot more threatening.
Then we scored from a free-kick for the first time in a long time too.

Negative 3: We scored from 2 set pieces but didn’t make a lot of clear chances from open play against poor opposition. The weather will have played a part, but there still should have been more.

Positive 4: We had a pefectly good goal from Nishida ruled out for off-side, and at least one other occasion when Kanemori was ruled off-side when a defender was standing right next to him and impossible not to see. Fortunately this game the referee’s decision didn’t cost us points.

Negative 4: We still seem to be getting a lot of calls against us. These things are supposed to even out over a season, but it does seem we aren’t popular with referees.

Positive 5: Osmar looked quick, powerful, and played a couple of very nice touches; one back-heel to Ishizu in particular was great and should have led to a goal.

Negative 5: Having got himself fit and forced himself into the manager’s plans he is now suspended (although it is only against Gifu so may be a positive).

Positive 6: Ishizu keeps scoring, he certainly does have a knack for getting goals.

Negative 7: Again at the end of the game he gave the ball away far too easily when we just needed to keep possession. I don’t know if he is tired, or nervous, or lacking concentration, but he needs to add ball retention to his game.

My Man of the Match : Mizutani

Seems to be happening a lot recently, but once again he made 2-3 saves which saved what looked to be certain goals. Once in a 1-on-1, and twice from headers from crosses at point blank range.

Posted May 20, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Kateller Toyama (preview)   Leave a comment

Avispa have had a difficult month of May, a month in which they have played a local derby, had matches against teams in 1st, 2nd and 4th (Gamba, Kobe and JEF), and an away match agsint a team who finished in the play-offs last season.
Despite this we have done pretty well. The performances have been very good at times and we’ve picked up enough points to climb the table a little and stay within touching distance of the play-offs.

Today’s game is the first in a sequence of what look like much easier games. I’d expect us to be heading out onto the pitch thinking we should be winning our matches from now until the away game with Kyoto in mid-July.

Thinking first about today we make the long trip north to Toyama.

Toyama are one of the weaker teams in the division who have never finished a season outside the bottom 6 in the division, and don’t really seem to be progressing as a club.
They had a better than usual start to the season, but have then dropped off in recent weeks and found themselves dropping down to their more normal surroundings of the bottom places in J2.

They hold a special place in my heart as the first game I ever watched, with Avispa coming out 6 – 0 winners, and while I don’t expect that result today I am hopeful of an Avispa win.

Avispa News

Avispa have done well against the stronger teams, but now have to think about how to break down the weaker ones.
Toyama aren’t going to pour forward in attacks against us, a draw isn’t a bad result for them in trying to stay clear of the relegation places.

I hope we have an attacking outlook because of this, but expect our fairly standard away formation. Kanakubo is likely to return in midfield ahead of Jogo, with Jogo taking one of the forward roles.

I really hope to see a lot more of the ball into the channel for Jogo to run onto and make the defence face their own goal. He never comes to meet the ball so this ball needs to be played into space rather than to feet as defenders always cut these out by simply stepping in front.

Toyama News

Toyama are likely to start with the same members who played last game against JEF. and did well before eventually losing.
They had 17 shots in that game and need to be kept to half this many in our game.

They play with the 3 man defence formation which has become very popular in J2 in the last 2 seasons, and is a formation we’ve faced 3 times so far this season and done very badly against each time.

If we are to get anything from this game, and have a hope of reaching a play-off spot the team needs to be set up better to deal with the numbers in midfield these formations provide.
The way to do it is to stretch the defence wider and force Toyama to commit numbers back. Balls into the channels for our hard-running wide forwards is the key in this with Kanakubo then hitting the box late.

My Prediction : Kataller Toyama 1 : 3 Avispa Fukuoka

I’ll predict a win, with some goals.
Hopefully both attacks prove too much for the opposite defences, and an early goal could make both teams come out of their defensive shape and open the match up a bit.
If it stays goalless for the first half it’ll stay goalless.

Posted May 18, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Gamba Osaka (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa 2 : 3 Gamba
39′ Leandro, 44′ Leandro, 59′ Kurata, 70′ Ishizu, 82′ Ishizu

The end result looks fairly close for Avispa, and at times during this game we did match the favorites for promotion, but were largely outclassed by players of a much higher calibre.

Avispa started with quite an adventurous team, with Jogo in midfield showing that we were going to try and attack Gamba. This seemed like a good idea to me as the strength of Gamba’s attack, and ability of the midfield to pick a pass meant that our defence were going to be unlikely to with-hold attacks for 90 minutes.

This proved correct very early in the game as a long ball through the middle found Koga and Park too far apart and allowed Leandro to run straight through the middle. Mizutani did well in goal, and then someone (Tsutsumi?) managed to run across and make a last ditch clearance. It was an early warning, and a chance I wouldn’t expect someone as lauded as Leandro to miss.

Leandro was the big threat before the match, and I wasn’t really very impressed with his pace, power or movement in the first half. This then worried me as if he doesn’t stand out in any of those areas then to have scored the goals he has it probably means he’s the sort of striker who somehow manages to score the majority of chances he does get.
This proved correct as late in the 2nd half he collected the ball on the outside of the box from Endo (the sort of position Avispa get into on lots of occasions and try to find 3-4 passes into the box) and curled a shot into the far corner. It looked easy, but the fact that no Avispa player would even attempt it showed that it isn’t.

He then repeated the feat 5 minutes later to pretty much kill the game 2-0 before half-time.
After again giving the ball away weakly in our own half it was played quickly and directly forward to Leandro who went straight at goal and expertly finished once more.

If Avispa had any chance of getting anything from the game it need a fast goal in the 2nd half, what happened was Gambe extended their lead to 3.
After again losing possession in their own half the ball was played out to the left wing where a cross into the box wasn’t dealt with by a defence who hadn’t had time to regroup. Bouncing across the box it was easily converted at the far post by Kurata.

I was worried before this game that Gamba would have the intelligence, skill and guile to break down the Avispa defence; we were now 3-0 down and they hadn’t been made to, rather quickly capitalised on our mistakes.
We seem to have a system in place which has no obvious plan of attack apart from pressing high and trying to punish mistakes. Unfortunately teams we play are often staying well organised and not pushing forward to risk making mistakes, while we are doing the exact thing we wnat the opposition to do.

The game looked over, and Gambe took their foot off the gas, but then Ishizu came on and made the Gamba fans nervous.
If there is one player in the Avispa squad who does shoot when anywhere near goal (as Leandro had done so effectively in the first half) it is Ishizu.
His mazy dribbles and style of shooting where he gets air-borne do look a little like someone doing a Messi impression, but when it works it is quite effective.

His first goal came after he got the ball in a central position and just let fly with a shot from well outside the box. The keeper would be dissappointed to be beaten at his near post, but it was a great strike, hit at pace and shows what can happen if you’re willing to have a go. Finding the 50cm inside the post was always going to get at least a corner, and in this case a great goal.

Avispa hadn’t given up, and they actually started playing the ball into the right channel which Jogo has been needing for the last 3 years. Running onto balls he was able to hit shots across goal and put crosses in.

Ishizu got another goal with a first assist for Mishima as he was given a ball on the edge of the box and again hit a shot early and just inside the post.
With balls into the channel and early shots from distance we were causing problems, and it isn’t from doing anything apart from what has been obvious for much of this season.

Unfortunately a full comeback in front of 14000 fans wasn’t to be, but noone could complain about the performance apart from a couple of poor decision in midfield which got punished badly.

My Man of the Match – Daisuke Ishizu

Only on the pitch as a second half substitute but got 2 goals doing exactly what we have needed this season in just having the confidence and responsibility to hit shots at goal.

Posted May 17, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Gamba Osaka (preview)   Leave a comment

Today’s game in likely to be the biggest of the season in terms of fans coming to the stadium as Gamba Osaka come to town with their collection of National Team players.
In Yasuhito Endo they have probably the most famous current J-League player, a native of Kyushu (Kagoshima) and this is probably the last chance he’ll ever be coming to Level-5 stadium (in my opinion).

As expected, Gamba are up near the top of the table but haven’t had things as smooth as fellow relegated team Kobe. They currently stand 3rd after losing to Kobe last weekend and will be looking to get back into the automatic promotion spots with a win today.

AVispa have only won 1 game in 4 but are actually playing their best football of the season at the moment playing up against some of the tougher opposition in the last month.

Avispa News
I don’t think it is a coincidence that we seem to play much better against the stronger teams; our team is set up to try and counter teams and exploit spaces, which is very difficult to do if a team sits back and asks us to come onto them.

Today’s game is likely to see a very similar line-up to the Kobe game 2 weeks ago. The defensive unit is most important and will have Miyamoto returning to the team after being rested against Yokohama. Omata looked fit enough to start at left-back, with Tsutsumi going into the middle.
It’s quite tough on Park gun after a few good performances, but Tsutsumi has been one of the stand-out players.

In midfield we are likely to play with Okada as one of the central players ahead of Nakahara to add more defensive strength, and probably Kanakubo alongside him as Funeyama cramped badly last week and Kanakubo plays better when he starts.

In attack I think Kanemori will start alongside Jogo and Sakata. Personally I’d play Ishizu and have Kanemori on the becnh, but Pusnik seems to have faith in the young players to turn it on against the big teams.

Gamba News
Gambe are the leading pioneers of the volante system in the J-League, with Endo pretty much writing the book on how to play the position. They will play with him trying to unlock the defence with his range of passing, with Leonardo looking too good for this division as striker, and Ienaga making late runs into the box.

It’ll be the biggest test of the Avispa defence to try and withstand this attack for 90 minutes. Having said that Endo’s legs have gone to the extent that he sometimes doesn’t even train, and if Jogo can play his deep-lying attacker rold to avoid giving him space it could cut out the supply line.
A lot of the match may depend on the referee and how much protection he gives to the Gamba players.

An interesting point for the Avispa fans is the possible return of Daiki who spent 3 years at Level-5 playing as Captain and a popular player.
I expect he’ll get a good reception, but is probably only going to get a chance at full-back if he can get off the bench.

My Prediction.

Avispa 0 : 1 Gamba

I expect another brave defensive performance, but can’t see us holding out their attack for the whole game.
A large part of this will come down to the referee who is going to be put under a lot of pressure from Gamba to clamp down on our pressing game.

Posted May 11, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Yokohama FC (report)   1 comment

Yokohama FC 0 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka
38′ Tsutsumi

There were a few surprises in the starting line-up for this game as Pusnik rotated his squad, presumably with one eye on the tough game against Gamba next week and due to having played only 3 days ago in what are now quite warm conditions.
Nishida came in to face his old club, and Kanemori started in place of Mishima, with Osmar completing a total change to the front 3. Tsutsumi continues to show his versatility by playing at right-back, with Omata returning at left-back after injury.

Despite all the changes Avispa looked good in the first half, with the defence and midfield solid and allowi ng the front 3 to chase down everything in front of them. It looked like the referee might lose control of the game at one point, with Kazu Miura showing that at age 48 he is still capable of refereeing a game as well as playing. As soon as. I saw Kazu was playing I was hopeful of a victory; a team in J2 cant realistically expect to carry someone his age regardless of the occasional good touches he brings.

Avispa have won numerous corners in every game this season without ever looking dangerous from them. This game had a big difference in that we had about 3 in a row which there was some danger from, including one which was won after Kanemori had won the ball at the byline and crossed back for Nishida to ‘dummy’ (read air-shot) and Funeyama to smash against the bar with a slight deflection.
The resulting corner was recycled back to Nakahara on the left who hit a shot towards goal where Tsutsumi still up from the cormer could expertly touch into the near post. It showed the benefit of taking shots on goal. Whether being deflected, blocked, diverted, or even scored, there have been too many occasions this season when we havent even made the keeper worry about a shot.

It wasTsutsumi’s first goal for the club, and thoroughly deserved for his performances in a variety of positions which have probably made him my player of the season so far.

Pusnik made a couple of changes in the second half, and the team started to look a little stronger on paper, but less effective on the pitch. I think it was as much to do with Yokohama substituting Kazu, as our changes.
With the home crowd behind them Yokohama started toi play with more energy, and were all set to equalise on 2-3 different times. Chances again cameat the back post after crosses from the wing and corners, but tbey didnt have the skill to ever really test Mizutani who was again solid throughout. The only time Mizutani missed a. Cross it ended up goi ng right across goal to substitute Nagai who sent it along the 6 yard box where no Yokohama player met it for a simple finish.

Mizutani is making at least 1 amazing save a game at the moment,and so he did again today by getting a handto a back post header which deflected theball onto the post and behind.

Avispa were really making nothing in attack at the other end, and coukd have been punished more in injury time by again not being ‘streetwise’ enough with a minute left to play. After already giving lossession up easily fromgoal kicks they won a throw in deep in the Yokohama half which should have signalled the en of the match. Instead of holding the ball they gave the ball straight back with an ill advised attack. They got away with a couple of things today, but need to learn from it for the match against Gamba next week.

My Man of the Match : Tsutsumi.

Scored the winning goal, but was again totally calm and solid defence playing in his 5th different position of the season so far.

Posted May 6, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports