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.