Beating last year's champions and 2nd place team in the space of a week - a nice pick me up after the league cup and derby disappointments! Having a wedding to attend the previous day meant neither me or Fuz were in any fit state to be waking up at 5am Sunday as per last season. We followed the game from Shizuoka with stinking hangovers, but these were helped considerably by our first ever three points at the Saitama Stadium.
Urawa were going for the league title. We were playing for pride. We came away with all three points and were utterly deserved winners. Both teams had 14 shots on goal, and the fact both teams also had 15 goal kicks also speaks for the many chances created.
Edamura's opening goal was an absolute peach, and one of those you can just watch again and again. Tulio smashed it home in the second half to level, and S-Pulse got away with a goal line clearance a little later, but a lovely move which ended in a perfectly place shot by substitute Yajima won the game for S-Pa.
We now sit five points off an ACL spot with only two games left, so our only realistic route into continental football next season is via the Emperor's Cup. Going into the quarter final with FC Tokyo, I'm pretty confident.
Our squad this year has matured and evolved with each game, and having dispensed with last year's top two placed teams (not to mention the recent defeats of Gamba and Kawasaki) we are clearly a different prospect to the stuttering outfit which spent the first third of the season hovering around the drop zone. With rumours of Nagoya's proven goal scorer Johnsen set to join us, his experience, no to mention 13ish goals a season, would help wonders in the continued development of some of our young guns like Okazaki, Hara and Yajima.
Well, with the season starting to draw to an end, it's hard to look past Kashima as champions yet again. They only need three points against relegation threatened Jubilo this Saturday to wrap up their sixth championship. Sixth out of only sixteen seasons, bare in mind! An amazing record, but one not quite secured yet. If previous years have shown anything, it's that the championship is very rarely a simple matter! Jubilo are fighting for their lives, and Nagoya and Kawasaki are waiting in the wings to step back to first place should Antlers slip up!
I've said it time and again, but there really are few leagues which can match the J. League for drama - bring on the final two weeks!
The final few seconds. The silence that engulfs the stadium at the whistle is soon filled by our travelling thousands. Listen and look out for Loco Loco at around 4 minutes!
Good stuff. :)
BARRY WRITES... I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Be...