It was FC Tokyo versus Shimizu S-Pulse, so what better place to play it than in Nagano? I understand the theory behind teams going on tour for "home" games, (creating new fans in a football-starved corner of the country) but the poor supporters who travel for hours only to stand in the rain in a stadium with no roof... well, they deserve a free season ticket or something. Put in perspective, Tokyo fans got off lightly - Jubilo played their home tie against Verdy in Kagoshima, not far short of five hundred miles from Iwata.
I didn't make the journey, busy as I was halfway up a mountain feeding raw meat to lions (Fuji Safari Park - fun for all the family, and with authentic Turkish kebabs for sale on site, a great day out not to be missed!). My mobile kept me up to date with all the action from the Matsumoto, but it was Tokyo who led for almost the entire game. It took an 88th minute free kick from Jungo to put us through to round two for the first time since 2005:
It didn't look the most threatening of shots, but the movement in the area seemed to fox the Tokyo keeper, and moments later it was all over. It was a timely goal, as had things ended 1-0, Jubilo's victory meant we'd have gone into our final game needing a win. While we're now pretty much guaranteed to win our group, a win for both Jubilo (unlikely) and Tokyo (very likely) on Sunday could see us finish 2nd, although it would mean our superior goal difference having to get reversed. This isn't totally beyond the realms of possibility since whipping boys Verdy have so far let in thirteen without reply. FC Tokyo will have their shooting boots on! Either way, we're through to round two, and a first place finish would mean we meet Antlers home and away in the last eight. Not ideal, but pride won't allow me to accept a beating from Jubilo, even if it meant an easier tie in the quarters. For all the different permutations in the four groups, Dokool over at Aishiteru Tokyo has all the details you could ever need.
Next up is Jubilo at their place. Since Ecopa was built, it's now been six years since we've played them at the Yamaha, and eight years since we beat them there. I was considering giving it a miss as we're already through, but who was I kidding? The chance to give them a doing on their home patch is too good an opportunity to pass up. Tickets are bought for our third derby this year and 2008's BDO2 is coming! I have a feeling a lot of S-Pa will be heading out west on Sunday, even if for nothing more than the nostalgia value of playing Jubilo at the Yamaha, and with only one derby loss from ten, we've got to be confident. Hopefully Genki Omae will get more of a run out, too. He's made brief appearances in our last two Nabisco games, but let's have him out there from the start - go on Kenta, you know it makes sense!
BARRY WRITES... I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Be...