Avispa have had several matches over the last month in an attempt to get ready for the season starting. We have 1 more game at home against FC Tokyo next week which I hope to go to, but before that here is a round-up of the games so far:
vs. Avispa U-18 team
The first time the players had time together as a team on the pitch was in a match of 3 30 minute periods against the U-18 team.
You can’t say much about these matches, and I didn’t go so don’t know who was playing (but 600 people did manage to find time to watch!).
I am sure that every player got some time on the pitch. The first 30 minutes ended 0 – 0, the second 30 minutes was won 1:0 by the top team with Kanamori scoring after just 3 minutes, and the final 30 minutes was won 2:0 by the top team with Morimura and Kunimoto scoring.
vs. Fukuoka University.
Before leaving for Miyazaki we had our annual training match with the University at Gannosu.
This match would have been more competitive, and was again played over 3 periods but this time with each being 45 minutes long.
Sakata and Jogo played up front together for the first 45 minutes and helped Avispa win it 1:0 with Sakata scoring.
The second 45 minutes had an emphatic 4-0 win Avispa with Jogo staying on the pitch to score after 7 minutes, and Hirai and Kanamori both coming on to score with Nakahara completing the scoring.
Nakahara scored again in the final 45 minutes, but the University at least got some consolation as they scored at the end to draw the 45 minutes 1:1.
vs. Kashima Antlers.
The first game in Miyazaki saw us play Kashima Antlers as part of the “Skype New Year’s Cup”. Playing against J1 opposition it would be our toughest test of pre-season, and so it proved as we ended up losing 2 : 0.
While there were many substitutions it was played with some competitive spirit and could give the first indication of how Ihara is viewing the team.
We started the match:
Which surprises me a little to see us using a back-3, but I guess that Ihara wants to have a look at it even if I still suspect we will start the season with a back-4.
As the match went on we brought on both Nakaharas, Sakai, and Kanamori, but couldn’t change the outcome of the match after conceding both goals in the first half.
vs. Oita Trinita.
I actually watched this game live as it was being broadcast on Tv and was my first chance to see the team this off-season due to work stopping me from attending any of the other games.
We went to 4231 for this game with Seon the man dropping out of the starting line-up.
It looks very similar to a team from 3 years ago, and played a bit like one as Oita were allowed to have space and build towards the Avispa box without ever really looking that dangerous. Both teams were clearly rusty, and there wasn’t a whole lot of quality on display. Hirai was ineffective as he has always been at Avispa, and Jogo just floated around as he is prone to do in the outside right position.
It looked like another blast from the past, Hideya Okamoto, would open the scoring after being awarded a weak penalty after a push by Kamekawa on the edge of the box. Fortunately for Avispa he blasted his penalty against the bar.
Avispa needed more energy, and in the second half looked more like the team Pusnik was pushing for last year as they pressed the ball high on the pitch. This was being done mostly by Sakata and Kanamori, but Sakai also helped having come on for the lethargic Hirai.
It was actually the introduction of Suzuki Jun which swung the game in Avispa’s favor. I have been very critical of him, but he came on and was clearly treating this game like his chance to prove himself and was busy and aggressive in midfield. I have never doubted his left-foot and after winning a free-kick on the edge of the box after tenaciously stealing possession his free-kick hit the top of the wall, rebounded to Sueyoshi who hit it long into the bottom corner.
Sueyoshi’s ability to hit shots from outside the box is something we have really missed in the last 2 years, and it gave a glimpse that maybe things can work out at Avispa for him again.
Suzuki Jun hit another free-kick against the bar late in the game, but Avispa had done enough to win already.
vs. Kagoshima United.
The players who didn’t start against Oita got chances later in the week against Kagoshima. It was a game which ended up scoreless as the teams played out a 0:0 draw but was apparently lit up by 17 year old Kunimoto who was the player making the fans excited.
The only details I have about the game are from commenter on this site Perogyo whose great comment is worth reproducing in full:
“I have been really impressed with Kuni at this camp. He has generated a lot of excitement among the hardcore fans- and that is almost impossible to do if you aren’t a Fukuoka-born player. But he got two standing O’s last week, including for some amazing dribbling in the Kagoshima United game. He seems to take direction well, from the coaches and Hokuto/Kamiyama. I am looking forward to seeing him in action.
There is something wrong with the new kit. The colour way isn’t awful (Kagoshima United’s away kit is truly awful so this is genius in comparison) but not my cup of tea. But the cut is terrible. The grandad shorts paired with an ill-cut shirt which is too tight around the shoulders and somehow makes it look like they all have beer bellys. Not impressed.”
vs. JEF United
This match was played over 4 45 minute periods, presumably to give the squad of both teams a chance to get 70 – 90 minutes game time under their belts.
Avispa’s starting line-up was exactly the same as it had been against Oita and ended up finishing as 2:0 winners after the first 90 minutes with Kanamori and Jogo getting the goals.
The players changed for the 2nd 90 minutes, and immediately did much better scoring 4 goals in the ‘first half’ of the second game with Nakahara getting one, and then Suzuki jun continuing his good form from the Oita match by scoring an unlikely hattrick!
JEF scored 2 goals in the final set of 45 minutes to get something from the game, but an overall aggregate score of 6:2 (2:0 & 4:2) is something which Avispa should feel encouraged by against tough J1 opposition.
Avispa’s squad for 2015 has been announced, with the numbers decided and barring any addition from unattached players is unlikely to change until the summer at the earliest.
It is a squad which looks well-equipped in certain areas, and under-staffed in others.
Looking at squad numbers isn’t the most scientific thing to do, but it’s possible to make a few wide sweeping statements.
#1 : Ryuichi Kamiyama, 30 years old.
#23 : Kosuke Nakamura, 19 years old.
#25 : Eita Kasagawa, 24 years old.
I actually think we have a problem at goal-keeper.
People will point to the stats showing that Kamiyama made the most saves per match in J2 for the last season, but I don’t really trust goal-keeping stats. If a keeper flaps at a cross and then has to make a save and a block from the shot which comes from it then statistically that makes him better than a keeper who just catches the ball in the first place.
I’ve been watching Kami yama for a long time now and while he can make good saves, and has at times won us games single-handedly, he has in my opinion cost us more points than he has won us.
It isn’t a very popular opinion, but after being dropped by Shinoda, Asano, Maeda and Pusnik (for Rokutan, Kawata, Mizutani and Shimizu) at times in the last 5 years maybe it is an opinion shared by his managers.
Behind him the cover is very untested.
#3 Takumi Abe, 23 years old (left-back)
#16 Yuta Mishima, 20 years old (right-back)
#18 Masashi Kamekawa, 21 years old (left-back)
#22 Hokuto Nakamura, 29 years old (right-back)
#24 Yuya Mitsunaga, 19 years old (left-back)
This is an area where things could get a little shaky!
The Squad Numbers tell a lie here. #22 is popular at Fukuoka (for reasons I don’t know) and Hokuto will be first choice at right-back and one of our key players. Kamekawa has looked pretty good from what I have seen so far and will start at left-back.
The issue will come when either player gets injured or suspended, and Kamakawa has already been called away to tour Singapore with the National U-22 team.
Personally I would put Mitsunaga straight into the team as back-up for the left, I don’t really have any faith in Abe’s ability to get any better than what is a fairly poor standard right now, mainly due to a lack of application. He has flashes of the player he could be, but seems to only switch it on when it suits him.
Mishima is our back-up at right-back and he didn’t really make the progress his first season deserved last year. I really hope he has been practicing crossing during the days and hitting the protein shakes and free weights at nights for the duration of December and January.
#2 Mizuki Hamada, 24 years old
#4 Lee Kwang Seon, 25 years old
#5 Masahiro Koga, 36 years old
#13 Park Kun, 24 years old
#19 Shunsuke Tsutsumi, 27 years old
#21 Gao Zhunyi, 19 years old
We’ve done well at centre-back during the off-season to keep Kwang Seon and bring in the impressive looking Hamada.
Koga shouldn’t get a game all season, with my choice for central pairing being Kwang Seon and Hamada. This gives us a tall pairing of players who will be tough to beat for any team.
Unfortunately I think politics will ensure that Tsutsumi plays alongside Hamada, with the Korean players having to take their chances from the bench.
There will certainly be chances for them through injury and suspension, and we do have a set of players now who are able to come in and offer cover for this position.
#8 Shuto Nakahara, 24 years old
#15 Toshiya Sueyoshi, 27 years old
#26 Yu Tamura, 22 years old
#33 Jun Suzuki, 25 years old.
Our biggest problem for the last 5 years has been that we have basically had no-one who can play this position since Nakamachi left the club.
You could look at that list and say that we still don’t, but it is at least better than what has been at the club for the last 2-3 seasons when Nakahara was the only player who would naturally play that role.
It still needs a partnership. Nakahara is able to play the simple ball. Sueyoshi showed he can thrive with the right man next to him. Suzuki Jun has a left foot and little else. Tamura is going to be very raw.
At least 2 of them will need to play in J2, with one or more of the forwards given the job of also dropping back to help. I’d go with Nakahara and Sueyoshi, but with his committed performance and comedy facial hair Suzuki Jun may have persuaded me he is worth a start; to give me a laugh if nothing else.
If 2 are left alone in a 442 we are destined for disaster.
#6 Kota Morimura, 26 years old
#7 Takeshi Kanamori, 20 years old
#10 Hisashi Jogo, 28 years old
#11 Daisuke Sakata, 31 years old
#20 Noriyoshi Sakai, 22 years old
#27 Takahiro Kunimoto, 17 years old
#28 Taku Ushinohama, 22 years old
It seems odd to list this as a position, but we have so many of these players ay Avispa who are basically half-way between being midfielders/wingers and strikers.
It is nice in a way that it can lead itself to fluidity, but also quite annoying that they haven’t been able to establish themselves as masters of one trade. Personally I blame Barcelona, and hope that at the end of the season it will all be a bit clearer about where these players should play.
For what it’s worth I think:
Mormura: Can’t be trusted with any responsibility and has to be allowed to play in the 3 of a 4231 where he can try his runs and shots without really damaging the team through failing to do his job.
Kanamori: Is able to play as the tip of a formation, but also drop to make runs from deeper. His inclusion in this category is meant as a compliment rather than a slight.
Jogo: I still maintain that his runs from deep as a right-back (a la Dani Alves) was his most effective, but he clearly wants to just play his career just drifting around the box attempting bicycle kicks.
Sakata: I’d love him to be playing as striker, but his commitment and general slowing with age means that when he plays dropping back to help in midfield he is our most effective squad option for this role. Personally I’d have him as Captain.
Sakai: Should develop his game as a striker, but the matches in Miyazaki have showed he’d prefer to have a career as a failed attacking midfielder.
Kunimoto: No idea.
Ushinohama: Needs to be ready to come off the bench and be a hard-running weapon against tired defenders. To be fair to him this is what he has done in his career so far.
#9 Takayuki Nakahara, 30 years old.
#14 Shoki Hirai, 27 years old.
It looks like we are very short with strikers, in fact the arrival of Nakahara gives us our first true striker at the club since Jumbo left (We had Ramazzotti and Punosevac, but neither really had enough games to establish themselves in Japan).
He is the key player for our whole season. If he clicks and starts to hold the ball up and score then we have a chance of promotion. If it doesn’t work out then we are left to another season of flattering to deceive and the players giving up in August.
Hirai is only listed as a striker because he doesn’t really seem capable of doing much else. If he scores he is useful, if he doesn’t then he doesn’t help in any way.
Apologies to any regular readers f the site, there have been no updates on anything for a few weeks now. My work has been so busy that I’ve not really had any time to do anything beyond go to work and try to fit in time to eat.
Hopefully the busy period is now over and I will be able to keep much more regular updates.
A review of news I have missed in the last month:
1) 3 young players to finish the squad.
After the recruitments made in the first few days of January only 3 more players came into the squad, and they are probably players who will be considered players to come off the bench and for the future rather than ones who will be starting matches on a regular basis:
Yu Tamura: A player that fans who have gone to training matches will already know about; he was playing for Fukuoka University last season and had a couple of games playing for Avispa in training matches.
He is a tall midfielder who can tackle, and should be looking to play in front of the back 4 in my opinion. It will be too much to ask for him to come in straight away and do a jog for us there, but it is a position we really need cover so he should get games and could take his chances.
Gao Zhunyi : A young Chinese players who got games at Toyama last season he is someone I don’t know really anything about. He shouldn’t be written off for coming from last season’s worst team, it would be hard for anyone to do well in that team, and Takeda had gone down with Gainare the season before coming to us.
Commenter Steve on this site has said he ‘isn’t bad, and only 19’ which probably sums the situation up.
Takahiro Kunimoto : Another even younger player arriving is attacker Kunimoto. He has a name which might be more familiar as some readers might remember him scoring a goal for Urawa when he was still in Junior High School.
Since then he has apparently become something of an ‘enfant terrible’, but has obviously got talent and might just need a change of scenery and change of surroundings to help him get back on course. It will be an interesting situation to see what happens next.
2) A new kit.
I have never been that impressed with SVOLME, their clothing and design seems to revolve around putting lots of bright colours on everything and writing SVOLME as many times as they can on every piece of clothing, so was happy to see a new kit sponsor come in.
The new company is Athleta, a company who are becoming more popular in Japan but might have some problems with branding.
As much as it sounds very sporty it is actually the name of a genus of sea snail, and beyond that is already being used as a branch of women’s underwear by the parent company of Gap and Old Navy.
Maybe that doesn’t affect anything, but I’m not impressed by their first shirt and won’t be buying one. It is a very simple blue shirt (which would be fine) but then has a contrast on the shoulders which gives the appearance that it is permanently raining.
The away shirt is no better being a light shade of grey, with flames coming out of the shorts?!
Both shirts are finished off with some sort of turtle neck.
3) A New President.
The shake up from the end of last season has extended to the top as Atsushi Nomiyama is moved down to a support role for the new President as Kawamori Takeshi is installed as the President for this season.
This is a sign of intent from the new investors at the club as he is another man with links to large piles of cash in the real-estate industry.
People who live in Japan are probably familiar with the huge chain of letting agents Apamanshop, either by seeing one of their stores around city centres, or in this off-season for having a run of adverts featuring the Barcelona squad.
Obviously this indicates a huge resource of cash, and a company which has an interest in football.
To go with System-Soft and the owners of Canal City it is huge investors.
4) Suzuki Jun now looks like this.
Previous posts have indicated that I wasn’t very happy with Suzuki Jun after he jumped ship to go to Tokyo Verdy, celebrated like a mad-man when he played against us, and then returned as soon as we got some money back, but then I saw he is going to play for us looking like this:
I have no idea what he thinks he looks like, but I assume he is trying to make me laugh.
Well done. It is an interesting, and creative new angle to his game (and an area where since Kazuki has left will be sadly absent from the club).
Even if he does continue to wander around the pitch being slow at least I can laugh as someone resembling a character from the Hobbit trying to kick a football.