Archive for June 2013

vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (report)   Leave a comment

V-Varen Nagasaki 0 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka

I’d tried to stay optimistic in my preview that we might see a goal, but it was always a strong possibility that this goal would end goal-less as 2 teams who despite being in the top half of the table have scored fewer goals this season than near neighbors Giravanz and Roasso who currently find themselves in 18th and 19th place.

There were definitely chances, but nearly all of these came from set pieces as Nagasaki looked to continually win free-kicks in the left wing position and send crosses in which were invariably headed over.

At times when Avispa managed to get forward their low crosses were generally blocked with attacks from the resulting corners being even less effective than usual as Nagasaki defenders were allowed to grab hold of the shirt of the nearest attacker and stop them from making any genuine strike on goal.

Kamiyama was probably the best player for Avispa, and did make a couple of goal-saving stops, most notable in the first half when a horrible mistake from Koga should have resulted in a goal but the Nagasaki striker showed a lack of composure and snatched his shot straight at Kamiyama.
I understand what Pusnik is trying to achieve by this strategy of playing the ball to the defenders to then try and create space to make quick passing attacks, but at present it isn’t really working. What is happening is that the ball gets passed from left to right for 1-2 minutes with the opposition attackers getting closer and closer to making an interception before somebody, has to rush a clearance which is often won by the opposition who have attackers right on the defenders shoulder ready to launch an attack of their own.

Jogo have the best chance for Avispa after being played through 1-on-1 on goal, but as is often the case with him when he had enough time to think about what he was going to do next he ended up getting caught a little in 2 minds about whether to blast it or place it and ended up doing a little of both; lifting it and blasting.

Either team could have snatched the points at the end, and Avispa did clear a shot off the line with 15 minutes left to play, but it was a game where both defences quite easily coped with the opposition attack.

Results elsewhere were quite good for us and leave us 1 win away from a play-off place still with a few winnable games coming up in July.

My Man of the Match – Ryuichi Kamiyama
Has done well since coming in after Mizutani’s injury. Is always still capable of a bad mistake any time, but is excellent at making himself big and got us our point today.

Posted June 30, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (preview)   Leave a comment

A big game for Avispa today as they travel to Nagasaki for the first time to play in the newest Kyushu derby.

Avispa are poised right on the edge of the play-off places, while Nagasaki have surprised everyone by being one of the top teams in the division, 3rd in the table with only Gamba and Kobe ahead of them.

Both teams have been quite solid at the back and tried to squeeze out single goal victories, with Ngasaki being a little more successful at it at present, but probably not as strong as Avispa on paper.
Why have done so well is something of a mystery. They have good sponsors and a bit of money, but their teams remains largely unchanged from when they were in the JFL, and their manager had 2-3 unsuccessful years at Kumamoto before coming to Nagasaki and suddenly making his team play-off contenders.

It would seem the game will be a tight, low-scoring affair; maybe won on a single set-piece goal.

Avispa News
Kanakubo and Mizutani are the only major long-term absences. Kamiyama will play in goal, and has done well in recent games (saving 2 penalties in the last minute against Fagiano was quite special!).
Kanakubo is a bigger loss, and we haven’t had the same attacking drive from midfield for the last month without him. Jogo may play midfield alongside Okada and Nakahara.
I think the full-backs are going to be key in this game, and expect to see Miyamoto back at right-back, even though Mishima pushing forward could really hurt Nagasaki’s flanks.
Koga will come back into defence to make our defence as experienced as possible against the team in 3rd place.

Nagasaki News
No major injuries or suspensions as far as I can tell.
The biggest issue for Avispa will be that they play in a 3xx formation which we have struggled against at times this season.

With bodies in midfield it will need the Avispa players to cover a lot of ground, and the wingers drop back when not in possession.
As I’ve said previously against these teams we need to be playing balls into the channels to get the organised Nagasaki midfield dropping back into the full-back positions.

Playing at home might actually hurt Nagasaki as they try to push forward and make the game a bit, leaving spaces for the Avispa attackers to run into.

My Prediction.

V-Varen Nagasaki 0 – 1 Avispa Fukuoka

You can probably get some good odds from bookies who’ve looked at the league table, but believe we are generally stronger and in decent form.
The game will be tight, and could go either way, but I feel an Avispa win is slightly more likely.

Posted June 28, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Preview

vs. Ehime FC (youtube)   Leave a comment

Have only been able to find the 2nd goal, but it’s worth watching for some quite entertaining commentary.

Posted June 24, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Ehime FC (report)   Leave a comment

Avispa Fukuoka 2 : 0 Ehime FC
9′ Sakata, 17′ Jogo

After 1 point from the last 2 games Avispa really needed to get all 3 this weekend to stay within touch of the play-off spots.

The team came out looking a little different from the previous 2 games (Pusnik certainly seems to favour a policy of squad rotation, which at the moment at least doesn’t seem to have upset the players) with the biggest surprise being Mishima coming out at right-back.

For a 19 year old who has never played a full match in his natural position (I’d thought he was an attack minded midfielder) it was going to be a huge ask to fill in at right-back. It also seemed a little unnecessary as Tsutsumi has done well there this season, so I assume it was a change made with an eye on tactics.
The start of the game looked like it might be a horrible miscalculation as Mishima was out of position and struggling to get back for a ball played through to the inside-left position, but a combination of a bad first touch and Kamiyama making himself big blocked the chance.

The changes to the team looked like they might continue as new signing Chris Kinjo (a Japaese-American who has spent his career thus far in German youth teams) was introduced to the crowd, and Brazilian striker Tele spent the whole game sitting with the unused squad players.

At the other end Osmar came back into the team and was doing his standard hard-running, but still hasn’t really looked like scoring this season after getting so many in the second half of last season.
As part of a unit though the attack was working well.
What Mishima wasn’t doing so well in defence he was certainly always available in attack, which opened up greater width on the left for our most potent weapon of the season; Omata, to send in crosses.

After a corner won on the right the ball ended up going out for a throw-in on the left Nakahara played a controlled ball back to Omata to send a cross directly onto Sakata’s head at the near post. It was a well-timed run, and excellent cross, but Sakata still had work to do and guided the ball into the net well to score what is I think the first headed goal I’ve seen from him.

Avispa were playing the ball around midfield well, and the 2nd goal wasn’t a big surprise when it came. The route wasn’t that surprising either as another cross from Omata was flicked to the back of the box by an Ehime defender where Jogo had time to bring the ball down and shoot back across goal to score.

Avispa were well in control, and could have added another goal after some quick breaks to the egde of the box, but it didn’t really seem to matter as we were so much in control that it looked like we’d see the game out.

Pusnik made one of his characteristic changes at half-time as Kanemori came on for Osmar. While I am very happy to se ehim using all three substsitutes all game I’m not sure if I agree with this change at half-time each game.
Surely it would be better to tell a player to go out and give 10 minutes of non-stop running after a 15 minute break and then make the change, especially as Osmar has been quite effective in the first half.

Pusnik would probably (correctly) point out that within 5 minutes of the restart his substitution won us a penalty as Kanemori was pulled back and down at a corner.
He certainly celebrated like a man who’d seen his change pay off, but unfortunately Sakata hit a fairly soft penalty and Ehime were given a bit of a boost.

Avispa had more chance to score, most notable near the end of the game when a Bergkamp-esque piece of skill from Nishida saw him running straight at the box. You could see he wanted to go all the way to score goal-of-the-season, but intelligence won out as he squared for Jogo in space who then wasted the chance by hitting tamely at the keeper from the edge of the box.

As the game went on it started to look like Ehime were the more likely to score, but lacked some quality up front when heading at goal, with Kamiyama being equal to their shots when they did get shots on target.
It seems like Mizutani has been teaching him the face-save as he blocked one header on target, had a strong hand at the near post for another and saw one shot drift wide after Park was wrong-footed and another hit the bar.

The upturn in Ehime’s fortunes could mostly be put down to our attack not being able to hold the ball high enough up the pitch, and the arrival of Shigematsu into the Ehime attack. He didn’t look the live-wire he had as a 19 year old for Avispa (more a slightly rounder, low centre of gravity type), but still caused some problems and is a player I’d love to see back at Avispa if he could get fit.

Official man of the match – Hiroyuki Omata
Can’t say much more than he defended totally solidly, and provided assists for both goals. He has probably been the player of the season so far based on the last couple of months.

My Man of the Match – Nakahara
Not as obvious as Omata, but this was far and away his best match for Avispa. Did a lot of work on the edge of the box in helping to break up Ehime’s attacks, and used the ball calmly and sensibly to launch out attacks. He keeps getting better, and will hopefully continue to do so as he gets more experience.

Posted June 23, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Tochigi SC (youtube)   Leave a comment

Tochigi SC 2 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka

Not many positives to take out of this game really. We’re still in the top half of the table, but never really looked like scoring, especially after going behind.

Posted June 12, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Tochigi SC (report)   Leave a comment

Tochigi SC 2 : 0 Avispa Fukuoka

Tochigi seem to be our biggest bogey team in the division, I can’t ever remember us doing well against them. While they are not a bad team (and seem to have a very good knack at getting some impressive foreign players) I’m never too sure why we seem to struggle against them quite so much.

I was worried on seeing the team-sheet for today which due to suspensions, injuries, and Pusnik’s approach to the game saw us play with Tsutsumi and Park Gon in midfield; a starting line-up with 4 central defenders in it (and alongside them Okada who has also played as centre-back this year, albeit in an emergency).
Ahead of this defensive minded midfield were the 2 youngsters Kanemori and Mishima, with Jogo in the middle who has played in midfield at home this season.
It’s not a line-up I agree with as it pays a little too much respect to the opponents, trying to chase them down with the front 3 and then break down attacks with the midfield rather than playing to our strengths.

Despite my misgivings we actually did pretty well for the first 15 minutes of the game and held the majority of possession, without ever really making a clear chance.
This is where my next concern comes up. Through the last few games we have scored through a defensive mistake against Kumamoto, a corner and penalty against Gifu, and a corner and free-kick against Toyama. While it is great to be scoring through set pieces finally we can seem to over-play things a little in attack.

There can be a bit of a problem in trying to play a counter-attacking game in that when you have the ball you need to try to stretch the defence to find the spaces, and while we move the ball around the pitch there doesn’t seem to be the final pass to break it down.
If a defence stays well organised in face of our lateral movement then they can end up defending the ball in to the penalty box quite easily it seems.
It reminds me a little of the Roma coach’s comment when facing Liverpool in Europe a few years ago. How was he going to deal with Liverpool’s proficiency on the counter? Give them the ball.

As it turned out this was what happened in this game. After weathering a bit of a storm Tochigi were able to move the ball forward quickly. After one attack which ended with an ill-advised back-heel they could first have a shot, and then recycle the ball to play a cross into the middle which was converted by a header from a not very tall midfielder.
It was a horrible goal for Avispa. Kazuki was in no-mans land, Omata was out of position for the initial cross, Park had come back but was totally out-maneuvered on the dge of the box, and then Koga seemed to let the cross into the box go over his head unchallenged. It was a goal you wouldn’t hope for under any circumstance, with the number of defenders we had on the pitch it was ridiculous.

If a counter-attacking game at 0-0 was proving difficult then it was near impossible at 1-0 down. Pusnik seemed to realise this and did a double substitution at half-time.
I generally like to see all 3 substitutions, but a half-time substitutions seems fairly desperate. A double half-time substitution is pretty much an admission that the starting line-up was wrong.

We continued to hold a lot of the ball, but against struggled to break down a Tochigi defence who were keeping their back 4 well organised and quite narrow, easily able to deal with balls into the box.
In similar fashion to the 1st half we then got caught out by another quick counter as a missed tackle (foul) on halfway allowed the Tochigi left winger to run straight at the defence, totally bypass Koga, and play a ball just beyond Park for Cristiano to finish expertly over Kamiyama.

The game was a lot more even than 2-0 may suggest, but Tochigi clearly deserved all 3 points.

My Man of the Match – Tsutsumi

Adifficult one, because no-one really stood out, but he did OK in midfield, and then looked quite good at right-back.
Not a great performance, but at least he did OK in 2 different positions.

Posted June 8, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports

vs. Referee Kumamoto (youtube) (2)   3 comments

Been getting a lot of hits in the past 24 hours with people interested in watching the highlights from yesterday’s game.

I’d shown the really nice compilation made, but there are now extended highlights available which people might be able to get a better idea of what was going on.

Pusnik has obviously been asked a lot about the game, and has been very restrained in his answers bearing in mind what he had to watch for 103 minutes yesterday.

After saying that Mizutani needs a CT scan on his ankle before they know how bad his achilles injury is, he said the game ended up being like 9 vs. 12 and that the referee was acting like the lead guitarist for a rock group trying to be the centre of attention on the front of a stage rather than being someone who shouldn’t be noticed if they are doing their job properly.

I haven’t provided quotes for this (and apologies to Mr. Pusnik if it mistranslated, finding the original English isn’t easy so it’s translated from English to Japanese and back into English!).

I echo his sentiments exactly and have looked up a few more details about the now notorious Takumi Shinoto.
I don’t want to give him any more of the attention he seems to crave apart from to hope that awareness of him will help to ensure he doesn’t referee another game.

My opinion on his decisions:
Okada yellow : A little harsh. It was early in the game. If it had been the 2nd/3rd challenge he’d done like that I’d agree, but it was his first.

Nakahara yellow : I had a much better view at the game than the highlights. Nakahara got a huge part of the ball first, no foul; definitely no yellow.

Nishida yellow 1 : It was a clumsy rather than malicious challenge, a forward’s tackle, you might expect the referee to make allowances but can’t complain too much about the yellow.

Tsutsumi yellow : At the time it looked like Tsutsumi got a touch on the ball, but the replay suggests it may have been a very small one. Can’t complain too much based on the replay.

Nishida yellow 2 Crazy decision (someone please check if he’s had a big deposit into his bank from Hong Kong). I thought he must be stopping for a foul on Nishida, but then sent him off. I still don’t know why after watching the replay.

Park yellow : He got caught on the ball and did what he needed to after his mistake. Correct yellow.

Kanemori yellow : If Kanemori doesn’t go for that ball he shouldn’t be playing as a striker. He pulls his legs away, rather than ‘take a piece’ of the keeper. No yellow.

Koga yellow : Maybe the craziest yellow of the lot. Fabio clearly moved to run and lunge into the back of Koga, I wish the highlights showed it better.

Osmar red : A stupid thing to do, and probably is a red based on some new law of the game, but after going through that game was understandable and nothing more than every fan in the stadium wanted to do.

I’d already heard he’d already apparently spolied a game between Tochigi and Ehime this season by being biased towards Ehime and leading to a 3-0 Ehime win, and that he’d sent off a Machida player after 2 minutes in the JFL this season.
Looking further here are his stats from the 2011 season in the JFL…

23rd April : Yellow 6, Red 1
3rd May : Yellow 6, Red 1
15th May : Yellow 5
12th June : Yellow 7
26th June : Yellow 5
7th August : Yellow 7, Red 2
7th September : Yellow 6
24th September : Yellow 7
22nd October : Yellow 7, Red 1
2nd November : Yellow 3
20th November : Yellow 8, Red 3

Your product is being damaged J-League.

You need to bring supporters back to the domestic game, but can’t expect them to waste their time and money through the actions of one person.

Posted June 2, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Roasso Kumamoto (youtube)   Leave a comment

A selection of highlights of the game, which includes a few of the yellow card decisions.

The one with Koga after 1:00 in the video seemed the most ridiculous at the time, Fabio seemed to run into the back of him and fall over. I had a better view of it at the stadium and he actually lunged forwards to try and get some contact on his back.

It would have been so great to hold on for a win (which would have put us in the play-offs), but even getting a point in those circumstances was something.
Not sure what we will look like next week with Nishida, Osmar, Nakahara all suspended and Mizutani injured.


Posted June 1, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Roasso Kumamoto (report)   2 comments

Avispa Fukuoka 1 : 1 Referee Kumamoto
30′ Nishida, 101′ Fabio

Without question this game is one of the most exciting games of football I’ve ever seen, and will be remembered for many, many years to come by the 7500 who braved Level-5 Stadium on a wet and cold June day.

IMG_1469Unfortunately a lot of why it will be remembered is for what is the worst refereeing display I’ve ever seen, by a guy who seemed to have a total mental break-down halfway through the game.
I don’t usually like to know the names of referees (I think a good referee is someone you don’t even notice let alone know the name of) but in this case I’ve made a point of finding out who he is; Takumi Shinoto (篠藤 巧), and he shouldn’t be allowed to referee another game of professional football in his life.

The game started with Avispa playing a very obviously faster paced game than has been seen in the last 2 weeks. While they won those games, the performance wasn’t great and they looked a lot more energetic here.
Balls were being played forward quickly and Sakata forced a save from the keeper after 15 minutes with a shot aimed at the corner from distance.

We were still trying to build from the back with short goal-kicks, but the attacks seemed a lot faster and more direct. Omata was a clear target on the left wing where he tried to use his delivery into the box which has been such a potent weapon for us in recent games. One of his crosses managed to just miss Nishida, Sakata and then Jogo as all 3 reached for it in turn but couldn’t quite make a connection.

At the other end Kumamoto seemed to laregly be relying on Fabio’s height (he seems to get bigger every time I see him) to get flick-ons for the other forwards to try and break through onto. They were playing on the last man, and timing runs well. The closest they came to score was when the #28 (who was quite impressive throughout) curled a shot from the edge of the box which Mizutani saved well.

The weather wasn’t making the game easy, and lots of players were slipping. One of these slips lead to the opening Avispa goal. First the Kumamoto #5 slipped and was dispossessed by Jogo who aimed a ball towards the box where the keeper and #22 made a total mess of dealing with what have should have been easy. I’m guessing the keeper mst have made a call as the defender jumped over the ball, but Nishida hadn’t given up on it and snuck between them to round the keeper and score in an empty net.

Avispa were leading, but had already picked up a few yellow cards. A few of these were merited, but mostly seemed to be given out with no rhyme or reason as to who had been fouled, or if there had even been a foul.
During the course of which Nishida managed to pick up 2 yellows to be sent off. You’d say that after getting a first yellow with a bad referee he should be careful, but he was. For his second yellow he appeared to get fouled in the middle of the pitch, but to the astonishment of everyone he got sent off.

From then on Avispa were stuck in defensive mode as Kumamoto aimed more and more balls at the box. I have no idea how Fabio failed to score from one of these at the back post, and one goal was ruled out for off-side (which as much as the referee seemed to favour Kumamoto, didn’t look that offside to me).

Still we had held out against Thespa in similar circumstances and were doing ok, but then the game got crazy as Mizutani went down while planting his foot for a goal kick. Fujimoto showed his total lack of class by complaining about time-wasting, but after initially saying he would play on Mizutani went off.
Having used all 3 substitutes it meant that Jogo would further solidify his legend status at the club by playing in goal for the last 15 minutes.

Kumamoto started aiming more and more high balls into the box where playing with 9 vs. 11 and with a striker in goal must have been thinking they would win the game.
As it turned out Avispa defended resolutely with 8 men behind the ball at all times. While Jogo did make a couple of saves it was down to the defenders to throw themselves at everything and try to stop shots on goal.
Level-5 was as loud and full of atmosphere as I’ve ever heard it.

Players were going down with cramp every 2 minutes, but it started to look like we could hold on until Fabio was in the right place at the right time to finish well as a defensive header landed on the penalty spot.

The game played out it’s last minute, but still had some drama as after making a point of not shaking hands with the referee, Osmar took it a step further and gave a big thumbs down gesture right in his face.
It was a silly action, and he collected a red card for it, but I don’t think it was anything that every fan in the stadium (including the Kumamoto fans who had travelled up to watch a game of football but got a pantomime) didn’t want to do.

My Man of the Match : Ryu Okada
The match will be remembered for Jogo who bravely went in goal, but Okada showed what being Captain of the club means today.
He isn’t the most gifted footballer in the world, but he covered every inch of the pitch today and kept his team going with encouragement and calmness in very difficult circumstances.

Posted June 1, 2013 by avispafukuoka in Match Reports