Archive for the ‘Match highlights’ Category

vs. Consadole Sapporo (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Consadole 2 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka

3 games into the season and we are looking absolutely shambolic. While this match and result don’t look as bad as being out-played and out-fought by Ehime in the last match there are many things which worried me even more.

Typically Avispa have travelled quite badly to their longest away trip in Saporro, but I couldn’t help thinking back to the last game I watched us play there.
Last season we had a real shortage of players capable of really doing anything in this match, especially in midfield, and Pusnik came up with a strategy which I genuinely thought I’d not seen before.
With a total absence of midfielders Kazuki was being asked to go forward for goal-kicks from defence to try and add some sort of ball winning ability in the final 2/3rds of the pitch. It was bonkers, but it worked really quite well (I was sorry to not see it again!), and one thing it showed for sure was a manager in Pusnik who was thinking and trying to make things happen with an inadequate bunch of players.

What worried me most about this match was that Ihara looks to have run out of ideas already. The formation and players selected here looked a lot like he had asked the players what position they wanted to play and hoped that if he just made them happy that they would put on a performance for him.
That’s no way to run a football club, especially as this group of players have proved over and over again to be a huge underwhelming disappointment.

We had a back 3 again, but one which was still beaten in the air over and over again and had huge gaps all over the final third.

We had just 2 players in midfield, and those 2 players were Sueyoshi and Suzuki, 2 plyers who proved 3 years ago that they aren’t good enough to ever play together even at J2 level.

Finishing the 523 formation was Jogo floating around doing nothing and Sakata trying to run, each side of a Nakahara who was trying to fulfil the Kazuki non-moving target man role from last season.
It was like someone was playing a football management computer game and trying to find a formation to keep all the ‘big name’ player happy.

In goal Kamiyama was replaced by Eita in a switch which will get all the headlines due to what happened late in the game. I really want to know if Ihara has discovered after 2 games what the previous managers found out (that Kamiyama is a liability), or if Kamiyama didn’t fancy a game under lights with a team who looked like they were going to lose.
Whatever the reason we had a guy making only his 3rd appearance in 3 years in an indoor stadium against above average opposition (and without any other options for keeper in the squad).

This game will be remembered for Eita costing us the points with at least 1 terrible mistake, but in reality I thought he took charge of his box much better than Kamiyama does, and worked as a sweeper-keeper quite bravely.

As is typical for Avispa we conceded inside 15 minutes, and after being given a big warning.
The Sapporo striker had already found space on the right (where Abe was hopeless and looked like he just didn’t care) but had his shot half-blocked by Kasagawa. The second time he found space in the same position on the edge of the box he cut inside to make space and curled a shot over and around Eita into the far corner.
It looked like maybe Eita had dived with his wrong hand, but in reality I don’t really ever expect Japanese keepers to make many saves like that.

Avispa were hopeless, and the game was dull. At least when we have been losing game after game previously the game was entertaining and you could see what the team were trying to do, even if the players weren’t good enough to do it. Now it is just dull to watch them jog around the pitch taking the piss.

We did actually equalise with quite a nice goal. It seems petty to not be pleased about a goal, but I think it will just paper over cracks a little bit and make the club think that maybe the outfield players are quite good.
A ball was sent in from the right for Jogo to glance it on for the on-rushing Sakata to hit well first-time into the goal.
It was a nice goal, and it will look nice on someone’s youtube highlights but it doesn’t excuse the 75 minutes of drivel which preceded it.

A goal woke Avispa up and with Kasagawa pushing right out to act as sweeper Avispa pushed forward in search of an equaliser.
Unfortunately for the habitually mistake-prone keeper he passed the ball to a Saporro striker while 30m outside his goal and was forced to chase back and try to get something in the way of a most embarrassing goal. He couldn’t get anywhere near it, and must be being slaughtered in newspapers and message-boards across Japan.

The most fortunate people are Sueyoshi, Suzuki, Abe and Jogo because without Eita’s mistake to take attention away from them maybe someone would be questioning why they are so poor.

Posted March 28, 2015 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. FC Gifu (youtube)   Leave a comment

Great battling performance and an important 3 points at home which puts us up into 7th going into September and just 1 point off the play-offs.

Just the Avispa goal has been uploaded as far as I can find.

The Japanese commentator calls our goal a trick play; I have no idea what he means by that, it is just a well worked short corner from the training ground.
Amazing reflexes from Kanamori to shoot, fall over/get up and shoot again before anyone else can get to the ball.

Posted August 25, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. V-Varen Nagasaki (report/youtube)   3 comments

V-Varen Nagasaki 0 – 0 Avispa Fukuoka

I’d said before the game that I thought a single goal would get the victory here with both teams keeping things quite tight and so it proved.
The goal didn’t come for either team, but I suspect that Avispa are probably happier with the away point than Nagasaki.

I’d said after the Ehime game that away draws are all that we need to be guaranteed a promotion so long as we win our games at home, and to secure the draw in a Kyushu derby (of which we had lost every on prior to this) is a positive result.

Avispa seemed to line-up with a formation which looked more like they wouldn’t lose than they were going to win, with Park playing an anchor role in midfield alongside Nakahara with Jogo and Sakata in front of him as Sakai served as a target man up front.

It was keeping Nagasaki quiet, but they did have a chance to score which should have given them the lead as a ball was played between central defenders to leave an attacker one-on-one with Kamiyama with time to pick his spot.
The stats last season apparently showed that Kamiyama was the best keeper in J2, and I’m sure they show something similar this season as he pulled out another excellent save by making himself big and getting a hand to the shot to his right. It shows how statistics can be misleading because while he does make these excellent saves on a regular basis, nobody is keeping stats on blunders and missed crosses.

In a half of few chances the next big chance fell to Sakata played through on the right of the box with a ball diagonally over the top. After scoring and playing very well against Jubilo I’d hoped he would now start scoring for fun, but his initial shot was well parried by the keeper, and his follow up shot from a tight angle hit the post when he probably would have hoped to do better.

With 30 minutes to play it looked like the game would swing in Avispa’s direction.
I’ve heard it said that leagues are won by the quality of what is sitting on the bench, and Avispa have what should be game winning players available to come on against tired legs with Hirai and Kanamori.

This game was designed for the substitutes to be the heros, but too often in Japan (maybe in football in general) the substitutes don’t see that actually they are the game winning players, and don’t perform quite as they should when they do finally come on.
Tired defenders don’t want to come up against pace, they don’t want strikers hitting the box and tempting fouls, and will quickly ask forwards to drop back and try to help. After a very good start to the season Hirai hasn’t really done this, and Kanamori is still young enough to be very inconsistent with his game.

Another player who has shown inconsistency is Mishima, but in the last game and this he has started to show what he is able to do. Despite working hard all game he really started to try and get forward in the last 20 minutes of this game, even though we had switched to 4 at the back at times, and was able to try and put crosses into the box.
The best chance of the half came from one of these crosses as Takeda hit an air-shot, and Kanamori couldn’t quite reach the ball when placed centrally with a dangerous cross put across goal for them.

The game had lots of positives to it, as long as we keep a clean sheet we always have the forwards who are able to try and make a goal.

Next game is home against Gifu and one which we should be looking to win.

Posted August 21, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Jubilo Iwata (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa Fukuoka 3 : 1 Jubilo Iwata

So far this seaon we have beaten Kyoto, JEF and Tochigi as teams competing with us for a play-off place, drawn away at Sapporo and Okayama as 2 more teams aiming for promotion, and drew with Shonan as 1 of only 2 teams who hadn’t lost against them this season.
It shows that when the team are focussed and stick to a plan, working as a team we are a match for anyone in the division and should be getting a play-off place.
No result or performance was as good as we were in this game.

It was definitely the best performance of the season, and thinking back through my 5 years of supporting the club it might be the single best performance I have ever seen from the club.
We didn’t just beat Jubilo (a team which still has J1 quality players, including a National team player Inoha), we took them apart time and time again and limited them in attack to the point that the goal they scored was their only real shot on goal.

It was an evening when everything just came together. There were changes in the team as Jogo moved up to a midfield/forward role alongside Nakahara and Sakata, and Takeda came back into the team at left-back.
The back-3 was an all-Japanese line with Tsutsumi and Kazuki either side of Koga.
All of these changes had a big effect on the game in my opinion.

I really like Jogo at right^back, not because he is a great defender, but because the position forces him to get involved in the game and lets him play with the ball ahead of him. His tackling is good, but he can sometimes go missing from games. In this game he took some of the things he has been forced to do at right-back and added then to his game higher up the pitch. He may not have enjoyed his time at right-back, but it has made him a much better player as a midfield/forward.

Before the game I’d said Takeda had been a surprise in the Fukuoka midfield, but here is returned to his previous role as left-back and was even better. As with Jogo the time he has spent in a new role has developed his game so that he was defending well as a left-back, but also had composure on the ball, could pick a pass, and took opportunities to get forward.

The result of this game depended a lot on how Koga and Kazuki would perform on their return to the team. Both were excellent, and of even more importance Tsutsumi stepped up his game and gave the sort of performance which he was doing at the start of the 2013 season.
Why the big improvement in performance? It is probably a combination of factors. The players do seem to like having Koga in the team, it is like a sort of father figure who helps to calm the nerves a bit. Communication is much better due to all of them being Japanese, and because they know that each player has their own deficiencies so they worked well to try to avoid Koga being caught in a foot race, or to make sure Kazuki was doing the things he does better like heading and blocking (but that is slightly unfair on him, he also played some good balls out from defence).
The results against some of the better teams in the division has shown that this bunch of players can compete with everyone, the mental side of the game is where they can suffer and these small factors all added up.

It also helped that we got a goal very early in the game.

Sakata collected a throw -in from Mishima and with a great first touch muscled past the Jubilo left-back to get to the byline and hit a cross into the box. Our crossing has been a little patchy this season but Sakata has spent enough time in penalty boxes to know where the ball should be going and pulled a low cross into the danger zone where a small deflection off a defender sent it into the path of Jogo who hit it first time and into the goal.

There was then a small incident, probably largely forgotten which Ithink had a huge part in the game. Jubilo’s Brazilian forward chased a ball into the channel and got totally cleaned out by Koga coming across from defence. It was a really hard challenge, and correctly called a foul, but exactly the sort of tackle which I want someone like Koga to be making. By virtue of being Koga he got up and jogged away without being spoken to by the referee; a lesser known player or Korean would have been carded in my opinion, and I could see the Jubilo strikers were playing like they were wondering if they were getting a kick for the rest of the half.

Quickly we had doubled the score and again Sakata was involved in a big way.
Playing as a left-back now comfortable in midfield Takeda stepped up and pressed a lazy touch in midfield from Jubilo, with Ishizu tracking back to help win possession (something Iwish I’d seen him do more during his time at the club) with both players exchanging passes to get the ball to Ishizu on the edge of the box.
A simple ball to Sakata was again collected with an amazing first touch which allowed Sakata to turn and shoot at goal to score.
It was a goal which all Avispa fans know Sakata is capable of, but apart from his first 8 games with us in 2012 he hasn’t really looked confident in front of goal. If he can now go on a run of scoring then we are sure to finish in the play-offs.

Avispa then controlled the game for the rest of the match. Kazuki was doing very well in getting some part of himself in front of the ball and not being caught on the wrong side of forwards, Tsutsumi was concentrating, and Hirai was moving as a striker.
Hirai has been the biggest disappointment of the season for me. I’ve previously said that if he doesn’t score he adds nothing to the team. He didn’t score in this game, but did more for the team than I have seen before as he kept running, using good movement and energy to open up space on the pitch. If he can keep this team ethic he will be a very useful player.

Jubilo didn’t look like they could get anywhere close to the box to try and score, but then with their first meaningful attack they did.
The Brazilian guy broke the off-side trap down the right and put a deep cross to the back of the box which was hit first time across goal to score.
It was a good finish, and showed how well Avispa had been defending up to that point. These players have real quality and if they were allowed chances would score, they just weren’t being allowed to make any chances by a midfield and defence which was keeping shape and working hard.

A nervous buzz went round the stadium, we have been in positions like this before, but the game was finished with a wonder-goal from substitute Kanamori.
As Avispa defended deep and tried to protect their lead the ball came to him alone on a break having been cleared from the edge of the box. He rode a couple of tackles and ran straight at goal past 2 defenders before smashing a screamer in off the underside of the bar.
It was direct running against tired defender and exactly what you want from a 60th minute substitute. Kanamori has the potential to win games, and should look as the role of a substitute as one where he can cause real damage with fresh legs and pace. This was a goal his idol Neymar would be proud of.

All the team needs to do now is try to make sure that they keep working as a team like they did tonight until the end of the season.
They had the emotion of Ishizu’s last game here to drive them forward, but they won’t have that again and need to find a way to work for each other and to a plan in the remaining games.

Posted August 11, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Shonan Bellmare (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa Fukuoka 0 : 0 Shonan Bellmare

After winning every game in June Avispa had a mid-week game on the 30th to try to avoid losing every game in July.
It couldn’t have come much tougher as Shonan came to Fukuoka having won 22 of 23 games so far this season. Could Avispa do what only Ehime have so far managed this season by avoiding defeat against Shonan?

We started with a brave line-up as Jogo was again moved to right-back which gives us more options, especially if he is encouraged to get forward and make the opposition concentrate on what he is doing rather than playing re-actively.
Ishizu also returned to the starting line-up which gave us runners around Sakai who is increasingly looking like a hold-up player for us.

The game had an unexpected other aspect as a thunder-storm an hour before kick-off had left large areas of the pitch water-logged and the turf cutting up in places.
In spite of this Avispa were trying to pass the ball around; a strategy which I thought looked destined for disaster, but which at times meant that Avispa were in hold of the ball and able to mount attacks going forward.
They lacked the final product and didn’t really get many shots at goal, a shame as I thought the Shonan keeper looked very suspect.

In defence they were at times still giving the ball away very cheaply in our own half (as we did against Okayama) as we tried to pass the ball out, but at the times we went long it was clear why we had this strategy as the forward were not able to win or even really compete for the longer ball against the Shonan defence.

Shonan had the best 2 efforts of the 1st half. The first of which was a really good shot from central defender Wataru Endo from out side the box which curled a metre too far and went off target with Kamiyama not reaching it. I guess he will be back in J1 next season, but Endo has been the stand-out player for about 3 seasons now and maybe only his size is stopping one of the top clubs from offering him a move somewhere else.

The 2nd chance looked to be a certain goal as Wellington turned on a loose ball in the box but was thwarted by a snap save to his right by Kamiyama who got a strong enough hand on the ball to deflect it safe.
It was the sort of play which makes Kamiyama so frustrating. He comes out with good enough saves to be a key player, but then makes so many mistakes. In reality this save was partly due to his mistake in the first place as his ball out went straight to Shonan to attack.

The game was scrappy, but 0:0 at half time things didn’t look bad for Avispa, we were playing quite well against a good team.

The game would change in the second half as Avispa went down to 10 men with 30 minutes left to play.
Takeda had already picked up a yellow card for a late challenge early in the half as he stopped an attack with a tackle which deserved a yellow, but then picked up a much softer second yellow after 65 minutes. The referee needed to think about the conditions a bit, it was a wet pitch and his tackle while late didn’t connect, and was clearly going for the ball.
It did seem the referee wished he hadn’t booked him after pulling out the yellow card and realising he had to then send him off, but by then it was too late.

The referee was having a tough game, and seemed to be favoring Shonan in tackles a lot. There were 3-4 occasions when Kwang Seon made great tackles, but was penalised; and then 2-3 times when Ishizu was brought down running in on goal but had nothing given against him.
In our run of defeats now the refereeing has been much better, and we may have benefited from a call in this game as Taketomi was called off-side from what looked a very tight call.
People talk about Ishizu, Jogo, Kamemori as wingers who could go on to play in J1; none of them have been as effective at this level as Taketomi who gets relatively little publicity (and none are as effective as Genki Nagasato for us in 2010 who is now in Thailand having effectively ended his career by leaving us at the wrong time).

Kamiyama then had to pull off another great save to keep the game scoreless with a diving stop from a header which he got 2 hands to and was able to push away from danger.
Games like this show how important the keeper is, when Kamiyama is having one of his good days we are promotion challengers, when he is making mistakes the defence get scared and we can be beaten by anyone in the division.

The other player who showed his importance here was Tsutsumi. He has quietly been quite poor in the last month, but in this game was back up to something like his best and getting blocks in front of what he could and showing a much better level of concentration than he has.

Just as it seemed like we would have 20 minutes of getting 10 men behind the ball and trying to hold on for a draw we nearly scored as Ishizu hit a shot againt the underside of the bar.
My criticism of Ishizu is a lack of effeort when he doesn’t have the ball. Here he tracked back having gone down to 10 men and won the ball to set up a quick break. Recieving the loose ball from Hirai after his initial tackle he ran to the edge of the box and hot a shot which beat the keeper but hit the underneath of the bar and bounced past the incoming Hirai.

There was a nervous last 10 minutes, but Avispa actually held out quite well and didn’t really look as troubled as they might be expected with 10 men against a club who have won 22 of 23 games before this match.

There was a strange side-show towards the end which I saw picked up by the commentators watching the game after I came home. With 5 minutes left to play Ishizu was apparently asking for the 3rd substitution to be made.
I’m not exactly who he thought should come on. Morimura has been hopeless this season, and doesn’t seem to handle pressure. Kazuki and Koga are squad players at best now, and you’d be crazy to break up the defence in this game which was working well.
Mishima could come on just to waste time and run a lot, but I don’t think he’d do better than anyone else on the pitch.
Hopefully he was just saying that he thought someone was injured.

A very good draw. Avispa are still in with a good chance of making the playoffs; will Ausgust be like June or July?

Posted July 31, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Kyoto Sanga (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Kyoto Sanga 3 : 1 Avispa Fukuoka

Coming off the back of promotion form in June we continued our run of difficult matches in July with an away trip to Kyoto.
This run of matches could be seen as a blessing or a curse; win every game and we get firmly in the play-offs while our competitors are losing. Lose every match and we drop out of the play-offs while our competitors are winning: Real 6-point games.

Unfortunately we had lost games to Yamaga and Okayama (and the cup match in Mito), and despite their mid-table position were heading to what I thought would be the hardest game yet in Kyoto.

We played with a team which looked a little more focussed on defence as Jogo moved up the pitch to play in a central role with Mishima coming back in at right-back.
I thought Jogo did well in his return to the position. My main problem with him when he plays higher up the pitch is he can drift out of games and wait for the ball at times. After a spell in defence he had added an energy and fight to his game, and has always had the technique to play anywhere.

In hot weather the game was low on chances, Takeda having the only real shot at goal with an attempted knuckle-ball shot from out side the box which did confuse the Kyoto keeper on the bounce and get pushed out for a corner.
We then did take the lead without even having a shot.

Mishima had moved up on the right and put in a cross from space. It wasn’t the greatest cross, but better than usual and in an area where the defender needed to do something. Inexplicably Kyoto’s Serbian defender glanced an excellent header just inside the near post to give Avispa the lead.

After than Avispa sat back a little and were doing a good job of containing Kyoto. They really weren’t getting near the box, and looked like a team which had run out of ideas.
As Avispa maintained shape and worked hard there were few shots going in on goal and Kyoto didn’t really ever look like scoring.

Just as it reached the point in the game where you thought Kyoto would run out of steam if they couldn’t break down the defence they scored.
Predictably (given their lack of ideas in open play) it came from a corner.
There has been one constant in the games in July which we have lost; poor form from Kamiyama in goal and Tsutsumi in the middle of defence. This goal was conceded after Kamiyama got caught in no-mans land at the back post and allowed the ball to be hedade back into an area where he should have been able to catch. Tsutsmi still had a chance to block, but a Kyoto player was fastest to the ball and knocked home.

At that point I would have taken a point in the game for sure. Kyoto were buoyed by getting the goal and quickly got another.

A run and cross down the right got deflected off the knee of a diving Takumi and went at pace across the Avispa penalty area. Kyoto’s striker Douglas has a good instinct in front of goal and dived to head the ball into an unguarded net.

Avispa had to chase the game to get what seemed an unlikely equaliser and got caught at the back to finish the game.

A ball fed from midfield found Oguro on the edge of the box and he did what he has been doing for over a decade (but probably not as much as he should due to his penchant for changing clubs) by finishing with a very cute chipped finish over Kamiyama.

Posted July 31, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Fagiano Okayama (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

Avispa 2 : 3 Fagiano

After losing the Matsumoto game I’d said that we aren’t going to gain or lose a play-off spot in games away from home against teams like Yamaga; this sort of game and result is exactly what is going to cost us a chance to reach the play-offs.

I am feeling a sense of deja-vu to last season where we were placed on the edges of the play-offs heading into summer, but then went about 6 games against decent opposition and lost every one of them.
We have now played Matsumoto and Fagiano (both in the play-offs) and lost them both, and have games against Kyoto, Shonan, Nagasaki and Jubilo coming up in the next month.

This run of games now will decide our season. If we can get 10 points from those games I think we will get a play-off place. We have now gone 2 games with zero points, that leaves 4 games to aim for the 10 points.
If we fail to get the points I think the players will give up like they did last year and we will be faced with another off-season of re-building.

This game had 5 goals, but in reality was very low on entertainment, and even lower on quality.
Fagiano haven’t lost a game in about 3 months, and they showed they are tough to beat, but we would have won this game easily if we had played as we did through July.

Avispa struggled to string together 3 passes in a row through the first half, and with our new philosophy of Kamiyama releasing the ball short and building from the back that was a real issue.
About 8 times in the first half we gave the ball away about 10m inside our own half and invited Fagiano to attack us.

There seemed to be a problem of defence linking with attack, and a large space in the middle of the pitch; a problem we have had for a long time but has seemed much better recently with Nakahara and Takeda providing a platform between the boxes.

Fagiano were playing balls straight through the middle where the defence were not working as well as a unit as they have done. Park Gun playing everybody on side on one attack, but a combination of Kamiyama coming out and making himself big, and Fagiano’s attackers not looking that dangerous meant the scores stayed level.

It was another mistake from Park which saw Fagiano take the lead.
Their run of not being beaten has come having brought Ueda to the club from Omiya Ardija. It is really no surprise, and is exactly the sort of player we really need right now.
It sums up the state of our finances that a player of that quality could go to Fagiano Okayama when it is exactly the player we have needed for about 4 years.
He had a part to play in the goal sending in a decent set-piece from the left which caused Park to get caught between heading and kicking away and end up heading stright down into the danger area.
It bounced off Tsutsumi’s back and was converted easily.

Avispa had not created anything, and it looked like a miracle would be needed to get us back into the game as Fagiano defended very deep with 9 men behind the ball.

We then equalised with our most dangerous form of attack for this season; a corner kick.
I had hoped that Lee Kwang Seon would score more this season, and he did so here jumping highest to head down and in for an equaliser.

Things then got very strange for Avispa as the referee started blowing for flouls from corners when no-one had any idea what he was blowing for.
We even scored from one of these as Hirai got the goal he really badly needs, but the whistle had already been blown. I have no idea why, and neither did the commentators. When Japanese commentators start saying the referee is a bit odd then you know something is wrong.

Avispa then did take the lead with a goal which looked a lot like the sort of thing we usually concede from.
A long ball forward from Jogo at right back was aimed at Takeda running forward, the back-tracking defender tried to head away towards the keeper but the keeper had come to collect and the ball bounced into the empty net.

It was a lead we didn’t really deserve, but if we are going to get a play-off place then we need some wins like that.

Fagiano had to start attacking again and faced with a 4 man defence (The off-form Park had gone off at half-time) used a concerted effort to target Jogo.

They equalised with a ball which bounced around on the left side of the box and teed up nicely for one of their players to smash towards the top corner from outside the box.
It was a good strike, but was from distanec and hit at the near post. I would expect most professional goal-keepers to be disappointed to be beaten at the near post from there.

At that point I was hoping mainly that we could hold on for what would be a decent point, but with the attack failing to really test the Okayama defence we looked more and more like conceding.

The goal came with just 5 monutes left to play. Again with an attack down the left against a visibly tired Jogo. Okayama had loaded the left with 3 players and played a ball inside Jogo at right back for a runner to shoot at the far post.
Again you can’t really fault the finish, but it all looked a bit easy for the striker.

I think this could be a bit of a tide-change in the team for a few games now. For all his limitations I think the team would appreciate Koga coming back into the back-3, and as much as I want him to succeed there I think that this game will have dented Jogo’s confidence to play right-back for a while.

Posted July 22, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Mito Hollyhock – Cup (youtube)   Leave a comment

I was wondering how Pusnik would approach this game.

Personally I’d like to let the first team players get the chance to test themselves against J1 opposition and hopefully learn something, and I also believe that winning can become a habit, but the Emperor’s Cup is set up as possibly the wrost Cup competition in world football.

Cup competitions around the world are suffering as teams take league position as more important, but in Japan we have a cup where J1 clubs are guaranteed to play at home every round meaning the chance for a lower league club to get a result is very small.
Even if they do manage a giant killing their only reward is another expensive away trip to another J1 club at home in the next round.
Ginat killings do happen becsue the J1 clubs almost always play an under-strength side, so even if you do get to play a top team you won’t be watching any of the better players. It’s a total farce.

In 6 years of watching AVispa I have only seen 1 home cup game, and that includes the year we got to the semi-final but didn’t play a home game during the entire competition.

With that in mind I wasn’t too surprised when Pusnik named a clearly 2nd string side to play away to Mito.
It was a chance for the squad players to prove they were worth a contract, and demand to get into the first team. After a 2-0 defeat I guess it is clear that none of them make the grade, and will probably be looking for a new club in December.

The other problem with the Emperor’s Cup is that it is very difficult to keep track of what is happening because apart from Urawa vs Somebody, and Gambe vs. Somebody they don’t show any games on TV.

Thankfully the internet has improved in recent years so I know that the team was something like:

With Chris seeming to have been particularly bad as he was substituted for Oh Chang Hyon at half-time, with Nozaki presumably moving to midfield.

Kanemori and Sakai also came on late showing that there was at least some inclination to try and take the game to penalties, but basically after failing to get a result to a below strength Mito team none of the players in this game should be thinking they are in competition with Messi for Golden Ball at the next World Cup.

First goal for Mito comes from the simplest corner you could imagine. Known target man Suzuki comes to the near post for a free header. Don’t know who his tracker was, but whoever it is should be embarrassed.

Second goal was late on.
Check out the amount of space given to Mito to pass the ball around on the dge of the box for this one.

Kihara is in Cambodia, Funeyama is playing for the Army in Thailand, Miyamoto is a PE teacher in Osaka; who is next?

Posted July 14, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights

vs. Matsumoto Yamaga (report / youtube)   Leave a comment

I’m very late writing a report on this one, but have been very busy with various things.

Heading up to Yamaga isn’t an easy trip, there is a reason they are 3rd in the table just goal difference behind automatic promotion, they have players and a style of playing almost ideally suited to getting out of second division football.

Having said that under Pusnik we are getting closer towards that target, and should have come back home with at least a draw, and could easily have had a massive away win.

The team was almost unchanged from our recent run of good form, with the only notable change being Mishima coming back in and Jogo moving further forward.
It isn’t a change which I like. I think that at right-back Jogo is forced to play for the team and get involved (he is a quality player and should be a big player for us), when he moves higher up the pitch it allows him to drift out of the game at times and become the sort of luxury player which exists in top divisions but not the scrap and tussle of 2nd tier football.

The game was fairly disjointed at the start as both clubs looked to stay solid at the back and break forward when they could.

Avispa took the lead from another free-kick straight from the training ground. If anyone is under any illusions about how much work Pusnik has done for the club they should go back through our games this year and see how many have been scored through set pieces and fast counters. These are goals we never used to score (just relying on individual skill), and would be somewhere close to Tokyo Verdy at the bottom of the table if we hadn’t had them this year.

This free-kick was our short pass round the wall to Tsutsumi who possesses a touch belying a central defender and finished well in a crowded box after 35 minutes.

We needed to hold on until half-time to get a quick re-organisation, but just as it looked like we could withstand the Yamaga attacks we conceded.
A cross from the left was flicked towards goal by Savio’s head and parried by Kamiyama back into the danger zone for right-back Tanaka to cooly finish.
Japanese commentators are awful. This was an example of that as the TV commentator lauded Kamiyama’s first ‘save’. This was a flicked header with no pace which Kamiyama reached with both hands, and not at full extension of his body. He should be catching this ball easily, or at the least punching it outside the box. It looked a lot like a diving save for the cameras, and cost us a goal. Rather than pointing this out the commentators fell for the dive and exclaimed ‘Subarashii Save!!’. Garbage.

Coming into the 2nd half I was glad to see Jogo go back to right-back where we immediately started to look more balanced.
Again the commentators showed their lack of understanding of the game by saying Jogo should be playing higher up the pitch; it is like a commentary by numbers rather than according to what is going on on the pitch.

Both teams looked equally likely to score.

Avispa had the clearest chance as Ishizu broke free in the box but saw his shot saved by the keeper as he moved in on goal with a 1-on-1 from the right.
Hirai came on, and should have seen this as an ideal chance to show his ability to change a game and win the points, but was again fairly ineffective. He had 1 half-decent chance but couldn’t show he deserves his money.

As Avispa pushed for their goal they lost possession in midfield and Yamaga quickly passed forward to a striker played onside by Tsutsumi who was furthest back.
Kamiyama made a decent parry for the initial shot, but again sent the ball straight back into the danger zone where it was finished unchallenged by a forward in the box.

Avispa pushed forwward for a deserved equaliser, but the Yamaga keeper was having the best performance of his life, pulling off save after save as Lee Kwang Seon went forward as a desperation striker.

We lost, it broke our winning streak, but securing a play-off position isn’t going to be decided on away days at Yamaga.
We play Okayama at home this weekend, a win there and we are straight back into the play-off picture, few clubs are going to go to Yamaga and do better than we did here.

Posted July 14, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Match Reports

vs. Mito Hollyhock (youtube / ratings)   Leave a comment

June will be remembered for the 5 – 0 away win over Tokyo Verdy in the middle of a good run of form which took us to the edge of the play-offs, but for me this win in the rain against Mito was much more impressive in many ways.

It may have taken a late winner to take all 3 points, but for many of the players I thought they did better here than they had in a blow-out win the week before.

Kamiyama – 8
Was partly at fault for the Mito goal by coming off his line and not getting to the ball, but before and after that had made 3-4 saves which looked sure goals until he managed to get something behind it.

Abe – 6.5
One good cross which Kanemori backheel volleyed onto the bar, but otherwise I thought he had a quiet game.

Mishima – 6
Picked up a soft booking and was substituted. Did nothing wrong.

Lee – 7.5
Showed he can pick a pass to set Jogo free for the first goal. Played Yoshida onside for the Mito goal.

Tsutsumi – 7
He is a player we need to step up if we are to try and get 4th or 5th spot. Hasn’t yet got back to his perfromance level from the start of last season.

Park – 7.5
Solid at the back again.

Nakahara – 7.5
Difficult day for passing, but continued to run and aim for interceptions. He plays as the furthest back at times which means he needs to put his foot in a little more than he does at the moment.

Takeda – 7.5
Turning into my favorite player of the first half of the season. Very good at treading the line between tackling hard and getting a booking. Never gets booked for nothing, and does the most running on the team.

Jogo – 7.5
Good in midfield again, and showed that he is able to play right back with no issues. I still think right-back is his position, the big chance he had to score showing him how coming from deep allows him to drift in unmarked and be very dangerous.

Kanemori – 8
Another goal, 3 in 3 since return from injury and we haven’t lost a game. Hit the bar with a very well improvised volley, and showed his instincts to follow the shot up to score the first goal.

Sakai – 7.5
Glad he could get back from his injury. He is important to the team to make defenders work for their money in the first half and have tiredness a factor for when Ishizu and Hirai come on. I don’t think he is playing a role he ever thought he would, but he is doing it well and getting much better as a footballer as a result. Niigata must be very pleased.

Ishizu – 7.5
Got the winning goal and an interview after the match to show for it. He likes to see himself on TV, and if he understands that being a substitute isn’t a negative but rather a chance to come on and explode he can win us enough games to get us into the play-offs.

Hirai – 7
Doesn’t have the same impact as Ishizu, odd as he looked the man to score goals at the start of the season. Did better than he has and got a good assist.

Morimura – 6.5
Better than he has been, but he needs to work out his future. Is he an attacking midfielder? (in which case he is definitely second best to many players at the club) Is he a midfielder? (In which case he needs to be a lot braver and start going toe-to-toe with opposition and never stop running.

Posted June 24, 2014 by avispafukuoka in Match highlights, Opinion