Avispa Fukuoka 1 – 1 Fukuoka University
The Avispa squad got their second run-out of the pre-season with a match against Fukuoka University. It might seem like a match which they should easily win, but Fukuoka University are actually one of the best University teams in the country and with players who have played and trained with each other for 2-3 years it was always likely to be a game which proved a harder test than the U-18 team from the last game.
Having said that I still expected us to get a fairly easy win if the players gelled and took the game seriously; for whatever reason things didn’t really work out like that and I think the manager and some of the players could be a bit disappointed with how things worked out on the pitch.
Again most of the players got some time on the pitch with only Sakai and Jang having not had any minutes on the pitch so far. Jang was there but trained away from the main squad with Oh and Takeda who didn’t get on the pitch and I assume have some small injury. Sakai wasn’t there at all, and neither was Nozaki.
The first half started with a 4141 formation which I really like the look of:
This formation seems to suit us, and while it might appear somewhat defensive it actually turns into a much more attacking 4123 when we have the ball and makes opportunities.
While the formation works there were some problems with the personnel at times in this half.
I think Tsutsumi can do a job at right-back, especially against teams when we have to be stronger defensively, but in this formation it needs the full-backs to get forwards to support the attack and allow the player in front of him (Hirai for the most part in this game) to join the attack. He doesn’t really go forward in this way and while I am sure that Hirai will be one of the highlights of this season he looked a bit isolated at times, and disinterested at others.
He showed in the last match, and in previous seasons, that he knows how to finish; I’m just not so sure how much he can ever really create or link up with others.
It may have worked better with someone else in front of him to hold the ball up and lay balls through for him but Punosevac had another game which frustrated more than impressed. Despite being tall and physically looking like a target man he does seem to prefer to play with the ball at his feet and dink little balls through to others and it just didn’t seem to work out today.
He had one good chance to score as a good cross came through to the near post from the right but he headed the ball past the post from about 2m out.
Chris looked to be getting a little better as a player and made some intelligent runs forward which I’ve never really seen him have the confidence to do before. He looks a lot better when he tries to be dynamic like this, he has the athleticism to do so and should in my opinion be looking to promote himself as a midfielder who covers the pitch as it would appear to be his best attribute.
Abe started at left back and had Taku in front of him in a combination which looked like it could be effective 4-5 times, but then when a positive move looked the easiest thing Abe would cut back inside and try to pick someone out in the middle. I hope he gets into a habit of looking forward first and taking a risk on knocking the ball down the line and continuing on the overlap.
Should he do this then in this formation there is always the midfield anchor there to add some security should possession be lost. I still think this is the most important position for the team this season and again there was a new face there this match. I don’t know who it was but he seemed to be being called Kim.
He showed how important he was to the team by being involved in a lot of the play, but unfortunately he wasn’t really good enough to take a hold of the game in a way which was needed from him. There were so many times when he was needed, and you could see the way the team was set up was perfect, but he wasn’t really able to do what was needed of him and the foundation which the formation was set up on was weakened.
He did have a couple of good moments, and made some decent tackles at times, and invariably we were able to counter quickly and well from these moments but they happened about half as much as they should have.
We did take the lead, and it came from an area where the team has to improve this season, a corner. Tsutsumi scored it by bundling it in at the far post but in reality didn’t mean too much having come from some fairly terrible goal-keeping which it would be unrealistic to expect in J2.
Still at least it looked like we would win the half; until the University equalised with a soft goal.
The manner in which it was scored will have written Pusnik’s post-match analysis for him as it showed many of the issues which needed to be sorted.
The ball was given away by Punosevac weakly high up the pitch as he tried to do some skill/interplay on the edge of the University box. The ball was moved forward quickly where Kim should have been able to deal with it, or at least stop the play with a soft foul in the centre-circle which would be unlikely to be further penalised but the ball made it out to the right wing.
It wasn’t the fastest break in the world and the cross which came in was floated up around the penalty spot.
Understandably Koga is not the fastest player any more, but much like a 45 year old prize-fighter keeping his punch you’d expect him to still know where he should be positioned and be able to head the ball.
In fact a University attacker was totally unmarked, and with the awful Kasagawa caught in the middle of nowhere a header was looped over him and into an unguarded net.
The half finished 1-1 and against what looked like a second string University team I imagine the players weren’t that happy.