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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Watching Football in Japan - The Complete Guide

Barry Barry writes

You know me - always like to have my fingers in several pies at once. Well, for the last 18 months or so I've been beavering away on a book aimed at both J. League virgins and old heads alike: a complete guide to all the 2012 top flight stadiums. Over 140 pictures, stadium access information and travel tips are packed into 70 full colour pages of Japanese football information. It's just coming to completion now, and will be available in February. Read more, and check out some sample pages at the website.

www.watchingfootballinjapan.com

It's the first time this information has been brought together in English in print form, and you're more than welcome to buy one come February. It will be available in the same way as our little UK Ultras book was, via Blurb to ship worldwide.

Bosnar to Korea

Barry Barry writes

As I'm sure you all know by now, Eddy Bosnar is off to Korea with its "better facilitates than Japan" and "higher level of football".

Cryptically (or maybe not), he said that this may prove a good move for Shimizu. What that probably means is Ghotbi was after a foreign striker and with all our foreigner spots already taken, something had to give. Well, watch this space as ever.

Thanks for the memories Eddy, we won't forget the goals, and all the best for your time in Korea. I'm still yet to properly visit, but if I do maybe I'll try and get to a Bluewings game.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS! Yoshida signs!

Barry Barry writes 

Wishing all our readers and S-Pulse fans the world over a very Merry Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous new year!

Mt. Fuji - Christmas Style

While I'm here, some good news. U22 international Yutaka Yoshida has signed from relegated Kofu. There was interest from as far afield as Germany, but we managed to snare the speedy young prospect who can play either left or right back.

With Ota looking like he might be off to Europe, we needed to fill the void, and this looks like a solid signing.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Cerezo Osaka 2-2 S-Pulse (Emp Cup 1/4 Final)

Barry Barry writes

Cerezo Osaka 2-2 S-Pulse (aet)
Kim 11 --------------------------------------- Ono 23 (pen)
Kiyotake 93 -------------------------------- Takagi 104


Cerezo win 6-5 on penalties

Att. 8252

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Hiraoka
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar (5)
DF Ota

MF Sugiyama (40)
MF Brosque
MF Ljungberg

FW Omae 
FW Ito
FW Takahara (44)

Subs Used

Ono on for Ljungberg (19)
Takagi on for Sugiyama (83)
Edamura on for Ono (91)

Report 

Bollocks. See you in March.

Confuddled

Videos

Takagi's goal in slow motion. Class.


Full shootout. Sorry Iwashita, but that was a crap penalty. Just boot the bloody thing as hard as you can! Aaaaah, not blaming anyone. Penalty shootouts are not football. You may as well just play janken.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

S-Pulse 2-0 JEF United (Emp Cup 4th Rnd)

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 2-0 JEF United
Brosque 49
Ito 62

Att. 6855

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Hiraoka
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF Jong a Pin (42)

MF Edamura
MF Sugiyama (88)
MF Brosque

FW Takahara
FW Omae 
FW Ito

Subs Used

Ota on for Jong a Pin (HT)
Ito on for Takagi (78)
Takeuchi on for 92

Report

In short, job done, the boys march on - cup 1/4 finals here we come! We'll play Cerezo Saturday 24th on their home ground, which must make them favourites, but we'll be fielding a stronger team than today and will be up for it!

The first half was pretty uninspiring stuff but we picked it up a bit after the break. Brosque made up for a stunning miss not long after the restart by scoring two minutes later, and Sho even got on the score sheet again. That's not to say he had a great game, but goals are good for confidence. Will he start next week, though?

JEF had that air of a team really trying their hardest (without wanting to patronise them) but they just never really threatened. They'd managed to beat Jubilo in the last round, but for all their huff and puff on more than one occasion they showed very poor composure when put under pressure which nearly cost them goals. Had we needed to, I guess we could have stepped up the game and pressed them into more and more mistakes, but it was just never that necessary.

So, anyway, we're through and it's job done so no complaints here. But we can expect a stronger starting 11 and a better performance against Cerezo. It'll be the first J1 opposition we've faced in the cup this year and playing in their own back yard we'll have to raise our game. I hope to see Ljungberg start and Ono is back from injury. There are no other major injury concerns, so we should be able to to field a pretty much full strength team.

Bring it on!
 
 Good travelling support
 
 Could NOT agree more :)
 It's a Shizuoka thing

Videos

Slow motion of both our goals. Thanks to YouTube user Imoimo9.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Ghotbi Going Nowhere

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse moved quickly this morning to quash rumours linking the vacant South Korean job with our Ghotbi. Top marks to the club, and of course the man himself, for their speedy action in easing supporters' worries.

Great to know our manager is a man in demand, but he's going nowhere. :)

Press release.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Ono to Leave? / Offers for Toyoda and Yoshida

Barry Barry writes

Ono

Widely reported this morning was the baffling news that S-Pulse have offered soon-to-be-out-of-contract captain Shinji Ono a one year extension at a FIFTY PERCENT REDUCTION of his current wages.

The man himself said he may well be playing elsewhere next season (who can blame him!?), and this would be an absolute disaster for the team Ghotbi is trying to build.

News as it happens will be reported here.

Toyoda and Yoshida

We have made offers for Sagan Tosu's Yohei Toyoda and relegated Kofu's defender Yutaka Yoshida.

26 year old Toyoda was the J2 top scorer for this season just ended with 23 goals in 38 games. Rather less impressively he has scored just 6 goals in 54 games at J1 level.

21 year old Yoshida is a local lad from down the road in Fujinomiya.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Freddie up your Desktop

Barry Barry writes

This month's S-Pulse desktop wallpaper is our Freddie. Get it here.

Hideki Ishige AFC Young Player of the Year

Barry Barry writes

Tweeted this, but forgot to post this wonderful news. S-Pulse Youth member Hideki Ishige has been named the Asian Federation's young player of the year.

The young midfielder, still only in his second year of high school, has represented Japan at U15, U16, U17 and U18. He becomes only the fourth Japanese player to receive the award.

If our Ishige goes on to have a career anything as good as the 1998 winner, he'll do just fine. And the 1998 winner was? Our very own Shinji Ono.

Support Thanks Day / Nagai Released / Hattanda Signed

Barry Barry writes

Ouen Kansha Day (Support Thanks Day)

This Saturday, December 10th between 10am and 2pm will be a chance to meet your heroes down at the Miho training ground. Or rather it's a chance for them to thank YOU for your amazing support over the past league season. Details in Japanese here. Entry is free. Not to be confused with the Supporter Thanks Day which will happen early next year.

Nagai Released

As widely known, and Tweeted sometime ago, it's been officially announced that Nagai will not be getting an new contract at the end of the year. A widely popular figure down Nihondaira way, the last couple of years just haven't worked out as they might have. He's still got a few years left in him though, and we wish him all the best.

Hattanda Signed

S-Pulse have signed Tsukuba University student Kohei Hattanda. The 21 year old midfielder has represented Japan at U17 level and was chosen for the all Japan university selection in 2010.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

S-Pulse 1-3 Gamba Osaka

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 1-3 G. Osaka
Ito 9 ------------------------- Lee 32, 39
-------------------------------- Futagawa 52

Att. 18670

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita (24)
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Edamura
MF Jong a Pin
MF Brosque (93)

FW Ito
FW Takahara
FW Omae (34)

Subs Used

Muramatsu on for Tsujio (61)
Sugiyama on for Ota (67)
Takagi on for Edamura (77)

Report

And that, as they say, is that. Another season all wrapped up and consigned to the history books. Well, a league season, anyway. The small business of the Emperor's Cup is merely getting started, and come December 17th we'll all be back at Nihondaira to take on JEF United for a place in the quarter finals. I think the J. League and Emperor's Cup would only benefit from a little mutual promotion. Rather than pretending the cup doesn't exist, if the league got behind the oldest competition in Japan a bit more I bet we'd see increased gates and greater interest generally.

Anyway. Gamba rolled into town needing a victory while hoping that both Kashiwa and Nagoya failed to win. In with a decent enough shout for the title, but around the hour mark, when it was evident both Kashiwa and Nagoya were on the way towards all three points each, this game rapidly became just another dead rubber.

A depleted S-Pulse (no Ono, no Ljungberg) started well. A rare (first time in six months or more) start for Ito Sho saw him score his first goal in orange. Only took him a year. We were the better team for a lot of the first half, but the visitors had to win and after a while found their feet. A couple of cock ups helped them on their way, but I felt like they were always going to win this.

That said, we were moving the ball around well at times and Ota, back at left back, was having a good game. He's been attracting interest from Europe recently, but I hope he goes nowhere for a while. Takahara also went close before half time, and only a fine save denied him.

After the break it felt a bit like we were just going through the motions, and I guess when you have nought to play for with all thoughts turned towards the cup, that's kind of inevitable. We never seemed to get a break and it played out 3-1. Well, that's it for J. League 2011, but with the last 16 of the cup to come don't be going anywhere! Still plenty more blood, sweat and tears to come this year in Japanese football.

A review of the S-Pulse league season will come over the next couple of weeks.

Is that all you take away?

What better than a Nazi paramilitary organisation to provide inspiration for a football flag?

Can you spot fellow Brit Ben Mabley deep in the Osakan fray?
Getting topless
End of season ceremony

Videos

Ito scores a goal! No, seriously!


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Referring Cock Up Wrecks Game - Takahara Goal Disallowed Why?

Barry Barry writes

Not even level - when Brosque nudged the ball on, Takahara was being played WELL onside by Alex. Horrific decision that wrecked an entire game.

It's clear Alex (No. 5) knew he was playing Taka onside by his hasty (but woefully too late) stepping up. To be fair, the ref's line of sight was blocked, but God only knows what the linesman's positioning was like to make such an elementary mistake.

Ineptitude

The goal in full.



Was this discussed on TV? No. Will the officials admit to the error? No. Will refereeing standards improve by sweeping horrendous mistakes under the carpet and / or simply pretending they didn't happen? No.

FOR SHAME.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Kashima 3-0 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes

Kashima 3-0 S-Pulse
Gabriel 50
Nozawa 69
Alex 73

Att 21542

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita (15)
DF Bosnar
DF M. Yamamoto (32, 58)

MF Hiraoka (38)
MF Ljungberg
MF Sugiyama

FW Brosque
FW Takahara
FW Omae

Subs Used

Edamura on for Sugiyama (55)
Takagi on for Takahara (73)
Ota on for Tsujio (85)

Report

Can't read too much into this result. No Jong a Pin, no Ono, no Ota at leftback (Masaki instead), a referee who called a clearly onside goal as offside in the opening stages and waved yellow cards around like confetti (at our players).

Aaah, sorry - never had the time to write much more than this and as time is moving on I'll just leave it here.

Photos

A belter of a football ground

Ole!

Freddie has a word

Videos

As and when.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

S-Pulse 1-2 Kashiwa

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 1-2 Kashiwa
Bosnar 43 ---------------- Kudo 62
-------------------------------- Leandro 85

Att. 19584

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Muramatsu
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Jong a Pin (yellow 54)
MF Edamura
MF Ljungberg

FW Omae
FW Takahara
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Takagi on for Edamura (57)
Sugiyama on for Takahara (67)
Nagai on for Ota (85)

Report

Them: Hard to play against, highly motivated, firing on all cylinders, potentially just two wins from the title. Us: winding down, missing our captain, looking towards the cup, nothing but pride to play for. And that was that. They won, we lost and we all went home in foul moods.

Despite all the above, it was very tight game, with the first half especially on a knife edge. The visitors in particular were largely restricted to long range efforts. The second was far more open, no doubt due to Bosnar's unstoppable free kick just before the break. It made Reysol throw everything they had at us to get back in it. They don't play very attractive football, but look at the table - it's been getting the job done.

They penetrated our defences on several occasions with some slick passing, and it was from a swift bit of overlapping that a shot drew a parry from Kaito. That was then headed home by the completely free Leandro to give them the lead. At 2-1 we kept having a go, but the look of a team playing for the title and one playing for pride is impossible to mistake. A late free kick from Bosnar went wide and that was pretty much that.

Kashiwa are now a whisker from the title and it'll be hard too see them blow it against either Cerezo or Urawa. If Nagoya fail to beat Yamagata on Saturday and Kashiwa win, it's all over. This time next year, it'll be us. #optimism

While I'm here, today S-Pulse became only the 5th team in the country to welcome its 5 millionth supporter through the gates. Top work.

Ghotbi Says

Translated back to English.

I have to choose my words wisely. I'm a little disappointed with some of the ref's decision making today. Omae was in the area and got surrounded by two players and pulled down. I'm 1000% percent certain that was a penalty kick. If that had been given it would have been a different game.

We made a mistake for Kashiwa to equalise, and the second goal too came about from a mistake. After their second we changed the system and went with two up front. We created some chances to equalise.

I think Leandro is one of the best foreigners in the J. League, but with his diving he was trying to get a second yellow card for Jong a Pin, and that's disappointing.

Never mind the game, look at this instead

Videos

Eddy's belter. You really don't need to see anything else.



But if you want to put yourself through it, here you go:

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Ono's Injury / Emp Cup 4th Round / Kashiwa Game Sold Out / The Globe is Back!

Barry Barry writes

Ono

Ono is out with his right knee for another four weeks or so.

Emperor's Cup

The next round of the cup is at Nihondaira versus JEF United. Kick off is at 3pm, December 17th. If we get through the 1/4 final (24th) and 1/2 final (29th) are both in Osaka at the Nagai Stadium.

Kashiwa Game

The game tomorrow with Kashiwa is completely sold out, and it looks like sunshine. :)

Globe

After six years in the wilderness, S-Pulse have announced a glorious return to the globe motif on their shirts for next season. You have no idea how happy this makes me. I might even buy one. :)

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

S-Pulse 5-0 Gainare Tottori (Emp Cup 3rd Rnd)

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 5-0 Gainare Tottori
Iwashita 27
Takahara 45+3
Sugiyama 70
Nagai 79
M. Yamamoto 81

Att. 3618

Line Up

GK Usui

DF Muramatsu (yellow 59)
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF M. Yamamoto (yellow 41+1)

MF Jong a Pin
MF Sugiyama
MF Edamura (yellow 85)

FW Takahara
FW Omae
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Hiraoka on for Bosnar (HT)
Nagai on for Takahara (71)
Ito on for Takagi (84)

Report

Job done, in what was evidently one of the smoothest progressions for a J1 side this evening. Niigata lost to JFL opposition, Gamba Osaka lost to Mito Hollyhock, and most hilariously of all, Jubilo also lost at home to a J2 side in the form of JEF United.

Is that all you take away?

No, actually. :) Respect to the Tottori travelling support

By far the biggest cheer of the night came when Nagai slammed home our 4th. It was recently reported that he'll be leaving at the end of the year, and despite his rather sparse goal record, he's a popular man at Nihondaira.

Tottori played with a whole lot of heart but not a great deal of skill. They approached the game well but were never really in it. After we scored our third they completely went topoeces and we were just running rings round them for the final twenty minutes.

Round 4 is against JEF United, December 17th at Nihondaira. Kick off at 3pm.

Videos

Thanks to the awesome work of YouTube user Spulfly, all the goals.

Iwashita:



Takahara:



Sugiyama:



Nagai:



Yamamoto:

Monday, 7 November 2011

Avispa 2-2 S-Pulse - Highlights

Barry Barry writes

Embedding disabled. YAWN. Well, click this link and you can see the highlights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHVA8koZaCo

That shoulder into Ljungberg at 00:43 from the defender was a bit cynical.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Avispa Fukuoka 2-2 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes

Fukuoka 2-2 S-Pulse
Ramazotti 66 -------------- Iwashita 61 (pen)
Nakamachi 68 ------------- Bosnar 64

Att. 12632

Line Up


GK K. Yamamoto

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Jong a Pin
MF Ljungberg
MF Brosque (yellow 67)

FW Takahara
FW Takagi
FW Omae

Subs Used

Sugiyama (yellow 93) on for Takagi (68)
Ito on for Takahara (90)

Report

Late, as promised. Fukuoka is a belting city, and they have a cracking stadium, but my one minor gripe is that the incline of the seats behind the goal just isn't steep enough to make out the far end properly. Apart from that, top marks. I also went down to (most probably) next season's Kyushu J1 representatives, and Sagan Tosu too boast a stunning football only ground with access Nihondaira would kill for (if stadiums could kill for things).

Give it time and we could see Kyushu rising as a power in J1. The all pervasive baseball consumes most sporting conciousness, but they have the infrastructure in place for footer. A good couple of years with some momentum built up there could be a power shift in Japanese football.

As for the game, I can only imagine how hard it must be motivating yourself for a meaningless game against relegated opposition, but the travelling fans deserved a bit more. We created few chances in the first half (I just checked the stats and we had one shot on goal) and Ono's (who was rested) captaincy and leadership were missed. Jong a Pin, as has often been the case, was a stand out, though. He's been a great signing.

The second half was better, but until the goal we weren't especially looking the more likely to score. A handball off a Ljungberg shot led to a penalty which for some reason Iwashita took. He made no mistake, but it was an unexpected choice, and were we in the running for anything other than prize money I doubt he'd have taken it. Two minutes later Bosnar walloped a freekick home which we've not seen for a while, and we had just long enough to think that was job done before a header came off Ota's head and looped over Kaito into the net. 2-1.

Two minutes later and we'd lost our lead and the game's explosive seven minutes were over. A couple of half chances for the home team was all that was really left, and it was game over. Hardly vintage S-Pulse, but it means we've only lost one in our last eleven. No league game now until the 20th when we have a chance to throw a spanner into Kashiwa's works but before that Gainare Tottori in the cup on the evening of the 16th.

500 miles? Piece of cake

Nice screen

You almost can't see the joins :)

The other lot

Ghotbi says

Not his exact words but, ah, you know the drill by now.

Firstly, I'm been really impressed with such a beautiful city as Fukuoka and am happy to have come here. And this stadium is maybe the most beautiful in Japan. I want to congratulate Fukuoka. The ran and fought for 90 minutes.

I thought if we could get the first goal we could then control the game, and we did. After we got the second, I thought that we'd be in complete control, but we let in a strange goal. The opponent's header came off the top of Ota's head and floated in over Kaito. At 2-1 the stadium came back to life and with that momentum they made it 2-2.


Videos

The only vid I've found so far - poor Ota. :(


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kaito Called Up / No Updates Until Saturday / U19s Go Goal Crazy

Barry Barry writes

Keeper Kaito has been called up for the national team which is cracking news. Well done, fella. You deserve it.

In other news, there's going to be no match report or update of any substance for Thursday's game until the weekend as I'm off down to Fukuoka tomorrow and leaving my laptop in Shiz. We've sold out nearly four planes on the Shizuoka --> Fukuoka route and I can't bloody wait! Look for me on the box. :)

Finally, in case you're not aware there's an Asian U19 something or other tournament going on right now. Japan played Guam yesterday and this happened:

:-D

Not sure if any S-Pulse youth are in there, but whoever Minami plays for must be pretty pleased with that performance. Comes on at half time and scores SEVEN. :)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Editorial: Yamazaki Nabisco Cup - So What?

Barry Barry writes:

Since published on In Bed With Maradona here.

On Saturday October 29th, Kashima Antlers and Urawa Red Diamonds took to the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo to battle it out for the J. League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup. There were few spare tickets to be had on match day, but looking beyond the glamour of the cup final, not everything is rosy for the twenty year old competition. From its high profile beginnings as essentially the first season of the J. League, the competition has since fallen on hard times. I’ve been noticing an increasing number of voices questioning its value.

The J. League, which began proper in 1993, was pre-dated by the league’s cup tournament. In 1992 the ten new pro teams took part in a round robin group stage with the top four progressing to a knock out. In the final, early J. League pace setters Verdy Kawasaki beat Shimizu S-Pulse to effectively become the first champions of Japan. That initial format turned out to be one of many, with the structure of the competition rarely staying the same for long.

The evolving J. League created a constantly changing number of teams to accommodate, as ten became twelve, then fourteen, and only since 2005 has the number of clubs in J1 reached a stable eighteen. With more games meaning more revenue, a straight knock out, while the obvious option, has never been seen as a lasting solution. Awkwardly numbered groups, and unbalanced home and away pairings, have long been favoured to ensure at least three home games for each team.

From 2002, a sixteen team J1 gave the Nabisco Cup several seasons of organisational ease, with four groups of four leading onto the last 16 stage. But in 2005 enter the expanded Asian Champions League. With its own group stage happening the same time as the league cups’, the domestic competition came out second. Any Japanese team competing in Asia were considered to have bigger fish to fry and were granted a free pass to the knock out stage. This created a situation whereby the final could easily be comprised of teams who had won just two ties each. Credibility compromised? Just a bit.

Speaking of credibility, the J. League Cup has long suffered the same affliction of its English counterpart; half strength teams with players rested for that all important upcoming league match. Consider too that fixtures are currently shoehorned into the season wherever there is an opening. Most take place on international weekends with the biggest stars away, or midweek evenings, which even in the league show a marked reduction in crowd figures.

A wider issue hard to ignore is how cup competitions have consistently failed to attract crowd numbers comparable to the league. This is true of both the league cup or the older, more illustrious Emperor’s Cup; traditionally the season climax. League cup group stage games are currently packaged within season tickets, and non season ticket holders rarely attend in any numbers. Into the knock out stages, where tickets are sold game by game, gates generally stay comparatively low or drop. In 2011, the four quarter final fixtures gates combined failed to reach the 20000 mark. Only does the final generate any noticeable interest.

But unlike the Emperor’s Cup which is open to all, despite the creation of J2 and the fact many members are eager for a shot against top flight opposition, except for 1999-2001 the league cup has remained a private J1 party. An argument oft repeated in favour of retaining equivalent tournaments around the world is the interest generated by giant killing cup runs. Indeed towards the end of 2011 it was widely reported that J2 teams would be competing in 2012’s league cup instalment. That however was quickly brought into doubt by rumblings of discontent within J1 at the prospect of decreased gate income.

So take that chance of revived interest away, and what is left? Put bluntly we have a tournament playing third fiddle behind the league and ACL, with a frequently fluctuating format and up to four teams injected directly into the quarter finals. It’s a competition competed by weakened teams drawn exclusively from the top division with zero chance of giant killing upsets, and a general lack of interest as evidenced by gate figures. It hardly reads as a glowing endorsement.

Income from the three group games is clearly important enough that the league cup will never be scrapped, so what can be done to reverse the fading interest? Firstly, in contrast to the current when-can-we-fit-it-in-this-year? approach, increased standardisation of fixture dates would help build supporter consciousness, as would better timing of games generally. Aside opening up the tournament to J2 clubs, its conversion to an U21 tournament is something I’ve regularly heard suggested and strongly advocate. Instead of the current token New Hero award decided at each final, it would create a platform for Japan’s young players to make their mark over a number of games.

In another small chipping away of the competition’s value, perhaps ironically, the winners of the Emperor’s Cup or league top three finishers gain entry to the ACL, which makes it considerably easier to win the league cup. Winning the league cup affords no such reward. A title is a title, but in a busy season, managers are quick to prioritise. The Yamazaki Nabisco Cup has clearly come upon lean times. The question is now whether the league is willing to work to find a place for their once flag ship competition, or if they are happy to let it continue to stagnate as the routine three-guaranteed-gate-receipts performance it has become.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

S-Pulse 3-0 Kofu

Barry Barry writes:

S-Pulse 3-0 Kofu
Takagi 36
Ono 45+1
Omae 66

Att. 19832

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto (yellow 78)

DF Tsujio (yellow 71)
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Hiraoka (yellow 28)
MF Ono
MF Brosque

FW Takagi
FW Takahara
FW Omae

Subs Used

Ljungberg (yellow 71) on for Takagi (HT)
Sugiyama on for Ono (71)
Ito on for Hiraoka (85)

Report

How did I spend my weekend? Not at Nihondaira, sadly, but there is certain 80s fun to be had on a Saturday night in Nagoya.

Prior to David Coverdale and his shiny white teeth (it was the girlfriend's idea- honest!), we found an English boozer by the glorious name of Booby's. A Grampus bar through and through, I'm more than happy to give it a plug. Good booze and scran and several big screens for the football. It took a monumental effort of will not to smack the table and shout the place down when Omiya banged in two in two minutes to go in front, but self preservation is a powerful thing. The better team won out in the end, and fair play, they're up there going for the title and are in for a more exciting climax this year than we are.

But we're not without our own goals, and sweeping aside a resurgent Kofu who won 4-0 away last week wasn't the sign of a team lacking motivation. Highlights are attached below, and as I didn't see it, I can't say too much about the performance, but we seemed to do well without Jong a Pin. Brosque was back in midfield with Ono and Hiraoka.

Takahara started again and nearly added to his season haul on a number of occasions, most notably after latching onto an inspired overhead pass from Ono, but it was rightly ruled out for offside. Our third goal was a thing of beauty and watching it for the first time I perhaps rashly proclaimed it as one of the best goals I've ever seen us score, but you know what? I think I might stand by that. Ono stokes it to Ljungberg who rounds two players, exchanges a swift one two with Omae, then passes it back to Ono who lays off the perfect through pass for Genki to strike it home. Liquid football.

Ghotbi Says

Not his exact words, but translated back from the Japanese, so the general gist.

We scored three special goals today. We could play some great football, but there are still areas for improvement. Especially after out third goal, we stopped playing football. We started the game badly, but started playing after around half an hour. I'm satisfied with Takahara's progress, and I'm happy that Hiraoka covered Jong a Pin's absence very well.

Highlights

Highlights of the game. Takahara offside for his goal, but only just. He was behind the keeper, with the defender the final man when Ono played it.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Vissel Kobe 1-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes:

Vissel Kobe 1-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Morioka 85 --------------------------- Bosnar 55

Att 12706

Line Up


GK K. Yamamoto

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita (yellow 80)
DF Bosnar
DF Ota

MF Jong-a-Pin (yellow 77, 77)
MF Ono (yellow 76)
MF Takeuchi

FW Omae
FW Takagi
FW Takahara

Subs Used

Sugiyama on for Takeuchi (53)
Muramatsu on for Takahara (80)
Nabeta on for Ono (91)

Report

Not sure of the circumstances of Jong a Pin's red card, but two yellows in a minute suggests a yellow followed by back chat for the second. That said, you have to factor in that the referee was the notorious Nobutsugu Murakami, the bloke who sent off Kuboto last year without having seen the "offence", so God only knows.

Top scorer Takahara returned after two months on the sidelines, but no Ljungberg today, either starting or on the bench. Expect him back next week when we face a resurgent Kofu who today beat Cerezo 4-0 away, climbing out of the relegation zone at the expense of Urawa who fall to 16th. Can the 2006 champions, who spent most of the next three years booing every opponent instead of cheering on their own team, avoid a second drop to J2? Who knows and who cares. Fuck 'em.

All told, 1-1 away with a man down for the last 15 minutes isn't all bad, but frustrating given we were leading, especially if the red card was contentious. That said, I didn't see the game so I can't comment on incidents or the performance. In fact I'll pass over to fellow S-Pulse blogger Daisuke Matsuura with his post on events in Kobe today, coming straight outta Kansai.

No chance of the league, so the final five games have to be geared towards a top 7 finish and some prize money. Absolutely CRUCIAL is finishing above the scum for a sixth year in a row, and then there's still the Emperor's Cup. If we beat Gainare next month it's a Shiz derby last 16 game in December. Plenty of interest left this season!

Ghotbi Says

Translated back from the Japanese. I'm no translator, so any mistakes are my own.

Both teams were sloppy in the first half. We couldn't play the football we wanted to. We improved in the second half and were able to play own game a little. After we opened the scoring we were could control the game and create more chances. We had an opportunity to get a second, but we let that important chance slip.

Jong a Pin lost his cool when he got the yellow card. He was probably disappointed because it was his fourth yellow so he'll miss the next game. It's his first season in the J. League and is maybe frustrated at the inconsistent level of refereeing. Maybe there's a different standard for foreign and Japanese players...

Couldn't agree more. Just ask Bosnar.

Videos

OK - finally got to see Jong a Pin's red. Moments before, the 168cm Popo clatters the big man from behind knocking him over, which is no mean feat. It went unpenalised but a no less clumsy challenge from Jong a Pin brought out a quick yellow, and another for bouncing the ball away in frustration. The second was just gratuitous and a stupid, game changing decision by a bad referee who lost his cool. Jong a Pin later apologised to the fans and team, but presumably not to the clown in black.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

S-Pulse 2-0 Gifu 2nd (Emp Cup, 2nd Rnd)

Barry Barry writes:

S-Pulse 2-0 Gifu 2nd
Takeuchi 45
Omae 45+1

Att. 3648

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Hiraoka
DF Iwashita
DF Ota
DF Tsujio

MF Ono
MF Jong-a-Pin
MF Takeuchi

FW Omae
FW Takagi
FW Nabeta

Subs Used

Sugiyama on for Iwashita (HT)
Edamura on for Ono (61)
Takahara on for Takagi (72)

Report

S-Pulse moved past Gifu's Seconds with the help of débutante Takeuchi's headed goal and then a cross which led to our second, and ultimately winning, goal. Other good news from today's low key affair was Takahara's return to the team after injury and Jong a Pin demonstrating his versatility when replacing Iwashita as centre back at half time after Sugiyama was brought on.

The win means we meet Gainare Tottori. The 3rd round game will be on November 16th, which is a Wednesday evening at Nihondaira, 7pm.

I fancied a change from behind the goal

Welcome back, Taka

Videos

Here's Takeuchi's excellent opener in lovely slomo from YouTube user imoimo9.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

S-Pulse 2-0 Nagoya



Barry Barry writes:

S-Pulse 2-0 Nagoya
Omae 73
Brosque 84

Att. 20181

Line Up

GK K. Yamamoto

DF Tsujio
DF Iwashita
DF Bosnar (yellow 33)
DF Ota

MF Jong-a-Pin
MF Ono
MF Ljungberg

FW Takagi
FW Omae
FW Brosque (yellow 80)

Subs Used

Edamura on for Ono (90)
Nabeta on for Brosque (92)

Report

What a difference a year makes. No need to beat about the bush - that was one of the best performances I've seen at Nihondaira in my seven years behind the goal. Add to that kebabs, sunshine, a full house, catching up with mates, and winning a few quid on the game, all that's missing is a late night visit from Aoi Miyazaki to top off the perfect day. As that probably ain't gonna happen, I'll have to call it a near perfect day, but they come around so rarely it'll more than do.

We controlled this one from the start. Ono and Ljungberg started together for the first time, and both played the full 90 minutes. It was a partnership which works. We had two veteran midfielders with pure footballing minds working together to run the game. Just as important was Jong a Pin's immense presence playing just behind Freddie and Shinji. He's a big, strong player and more than once today, to all intents and purposes, walked up to a Nagoya player, took the ball off him and began a forward move.

Nagoya may lament that they had a bad game, but they weren't allowed to play. We pitched it just right with a combination of pressing the away team, putting them on the back foot, and making them rush their decisions. They kept losing possession or ended plays empty handed. Add to that the forward thrust of Jong a Pin, Ono and Ljungberg's touch and vision, and we were creating chance after chance. We also managed to miss several ridiculous opportunities to open the scoring, but they came at such frequency that the law of averages meant we finally broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute from Omae's header.

The moment of the match came ten minutes later when Freddie ran at a defender on the right wing, knocked it round him with a touch so perfectly weighted that he could sprint around the back peddling white shirt, pick up the ball, take it to the byline, and cross it in for Brosque to strike home and win the game. It was a fitting end to a display of quality from S-Pulse against, not a team struggling with relegation like Yamagata or Urawa, but the defending champions. Credit where it's due, because I'm quick to moan when things don't go well, but Ghotbi got it spot on today. We were bloody brilliant. Patient when it was needed, stampeding forward when able.

I can't finish without mentioning Jungo Fujimoto. He did nothing of note, was deafeningly booed at every touch, was subbed on the hour, and failed to realise we were taking the piss when singing his name at full time. He was the villain of the piece, and played it perfectly. :) Night night.

Pictures
B?
The Aus Factor
Plenty of needle made it feel like a derby
Having fun there, Jungo?
Who da man? You da man

Videos

Our second, with Ljungberg's quality assist. The move started by Jong a Pin's dispossessing of the Nagoya player.



Some highlights taken off the big screen: