Avispa 3 : 4 JEF United
3′ Ishizu, 29′ Kempes, 51′ Sakata, 54′ Yonekura, 67′ Kempes, 71′ Kempes, 88′ Nakahara.
Looking at this result on paper it looks like another sorry step for Avispa as we continue to lose games, and with another defeat we drop into the bottom half of the table, but in reality this was one of the most positive games I have seen from us for a very long time.
There are posters all round the club and slogans saying we want to get back to J1; I certainly don’t want to this season. I believe being in J1 this early would be a big problem for the team and set us back 3-4 seasons; what we need to do this year is get the team gelled together, make sure everyone knows the formation and tactics, and get some good players to fill gaps and have a really strong season in J2 next year.
For 65 minutes of this game it was the best I have seen us play. Apart from 5 minutes of some bad defensive errors against a striker in very good form we would have won this game, and were by far the better team. That is against a team who are the favorites to get promotion along with Gamba and Kobe and have just brought a National Team striker back to play for them from Italy.
We lined up bak in a 433 formation, although it had been tweaked a little bit to actually look like more of a 4231 with Jogo playing alongside Nakahara and Kanakubo pushed up to sit behind Sakata. This formation allowed 2 of our best players to really have a say in the game.
Jogo can be a wonderful player, but he can also drift out of games; by playing in the middle it forces him to always be involved. He is also a forward who likes to drop deep, by starting off deep by formation we can keep a threat up front.
Kanakubo is hugely important to the team. We have been playing with this 433 formation which has 3 forwards playing a high press against the defenders, but that game also needs the midfield to press the line behind them to close the space for a pass out forcing a long ball giving up possession.
Kanakubo has exactly the energy and tenacity to fill this role and we got a goal out of it within 4 minutes. With Sakata pressing the defence a ball was attempted to be played out but closed down immediately by Kanakubo. Taking a kick he went down winning a free kick 5m outside the box.
Something which I love to see is a training ground free-kick, but with the likes of Beckham/Ronaldo/Roberto Carlos dominating youtube compilation clips nearly every free-kick is smashed at goal these days (invariably ending up 5m over the bar). We’d had a very close effort against Gamba just missed with a sneaky ball into the box, here it resulted in a goal as a low pass to Tsutsumi in the box caused confusion which allowed Ishizu to strike home from the edge of the box.
At the other end Avispa were not giving JEF any chances at all, with Kempes spending a lot of the game in an offside position and generally being out-powered by Tsutsumi and blocked by Kazuki.
Unfortunately JEF did score with their first meaningful attack of the game. A direct run at the box by Yusuke dragged the defence out of position a bit and when the ball came to Yonehara in space he could put in a cross for Kempes who had the skill to only need one chance and headed in back across goal pretty much unopposed from the far post.
Avispa stayed positive as a team who were holding the bulk of possession and looked the better team as we started the 2nd half with the teams unchanged.
If Pusnik was happy with seeing a training ground free-kick routine go in he must have been equally happy with us scoring from a quick, direct counter.
Having scored the first Ishizu had a huge part in the second as he didn’t give up on a cleared ball and kept it in play and ended up running down the tunnel. The ball was played to Sakata near the edge of the box and he was able to show he might be heading back towards top form as he curled a shot up and over the keeper to restore our lead.
I felt the game then changed a little as our best player up to that point Kanakubo was taken off for new signing Punosevac. It wasn’T that Punosevac was bad, he actually looked very, very good for his first taste of Japanese football, but in losing Kanakubo we lost the energetic midfielder who was forcing mistakes after the first ball out. I don’t know if he was tired, or was taken off having picked up a yellow card, but without him on the pitch we really don’t have that player.
Punosevac knew the tactic and could see the loss and was clearly trying to get the midfield to step up behind him, and it is a very positive sign for the remaining games and next season.
JEF equalised again with a rocket of a shot from Yonehara who kit a very good rising effort from the right side of the box having been cleared from an initial cross. Avispa were drawing, but doing so having had most of the play and conceded from both of JEF’s 2 attacks.
Ishizu went off tired, but not before hitting the bar with a shot which would have killed the game. Breaking free through the defence with Punosevac alongside him he struck a tired shot at the keeper which he only just managed to save as the ball bounced up off his body and hit the underside of the bar. On another day it would have gone in, or bounced out to an Avispa player, but today it went safe.
The game then changed with 2 goals from Kempes, both of which were caused by him playing between centre-backs and then breaking free from challenges by Kazuki. At the end of the game you could see Kazuki and Eita were upset at how the goals were conceded, but both of them have played few games this season and were doing very well up to that point. Within 5 minutes we were 4-2 down.
Avispa pushed for an equaliser and in Punosevac have a player who looks like he will be able to hold the ball up very well, and win almost everything in the air. It will be a new challenge for him to play in this role, in Serbia I can’t imagine he is hugely above average in height but playing in J2 he is going to be 10cm taller than almost anyone else on the pitch.
He showed he is good with his feet too as nearly pulled one back with a curling effort which hit the corner of bar and post from way out with the keeper beaten.
It was all Avispa and we did pull one back with Nakahara’s first goal for the club. Having balsted a poor effort over 5 miutes earlier he absolutely smashed one into the to pcorner from the right side of the box to set up an exciting finish.
We should have actually got a point from the game as Punosevac shot about 10cm wide as he hit a shot on the turn and you could see at the end of the game how much he had wanted to score it to have a dream debut.
We lost again, but taking the positives out of this game it could turn out to be one of the best games for the club in the long run.
My Man of the Match – Shunsuke Tsutsumi
No-one played badly, and Kanakubo was great for his time on the pitch, but Tsutsumi put in some huge tackles and won everything near him in the air to stop JEF even having a shot on goal for 90% of the game. Unfortunately we conceded in the other 10 % of the game.