Featured Post

Season 2016 Highlights

BARRY WRITES...  I really should have thought of doing this as soon as highlights became available officially on YouTube a while back. Be...

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Watching Football in Japan - 2013

Barry Barry writes

It's been a long year, and I've been fortunate enough to have checked off a number of new stadia in that time. So what better than to update last year's Watching Football in Japan for next season? What better indeed.

I've been working hard on improving the book and am happy to report it will be substantially enhanced on last year's début edition. 20% more pages, including crucial information on getting to a game over here, and even more stadia than before.

25% more pictures means around 200 to enjoy this time, plus a new J2 section introducing some of the must-visit stadia of the second tier. A reordering of information makes the book easier to use, and it all adds up to a better publication.

Here follows a couple of sneak preview pictures. Design is subject to change, but the book should be ready for purchase early next year.

 New cover, new book!
 New contents page. Loads more stuff!
Several J2 stadia are introduced this time

Cerezo Osaka 4-0 S-Pulse (Emp Cup 4th Rnd)

Barry Barry writes

Cerezo Osaka 4-0 S-Pulse
(24)
(53)
(83)
(+93)

Line Up

To come.

Report

Our season came to a disappointing end this afternoon as we lost 4-0 away to Cerezo Osaka in the 4th round of the cup. A real shame not to be heading into the quarter finals and all the excitement that brings, but roll on next season. I'm expecting a few signings over the next few months after the outgoings have freed up a lot of money and foreigner spot. Anyway, review of the season to come over the next few weeks!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Takahara to Leave

Barry Barry writes

Word got around today (no surprise, I'm sure you'll agree) that Taka will not be offered a new contract at the end of this year. He's a popular figure and certainly shifted a few shirts, but for the wages he's on, the return we've got hasn't been wonderful, especially these last twelve months.

To be fair, he had a good year last season, and went a long way to making up for past discrepancies in sky blue. Seems like a nice fella, so all the best of luck to him wherever he may go.

He had some memorable moments, including that last minute winner at home to Niigata (サイコー!!), and the ball he dinked off to Takagi to smash home two men down against FC Tokyo. Rumour has it he duped former team mate Ota into laying it back to him with a sly shout for the ball.

Maybe his most memorable goal came in Saitama last year where he'd spent several hellish months with Urawa. Skip forward to 0:34.

And we all enjoyed that one. :)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Omae to Düsseldorf

Barry Barry writes

News broke yesterday of Genki Omae working out personal terms with Bundesliga team Fortuna Düsseldorf. It will of course be a shame to lose him, but we wish him the very best of luck. Hard to believe he's still only 22 as he's been around for a while with us.

Good luck Genki! We'll miss you!!


Woh woh!

Omae Recoginsed / Best Pitch!

Barry Barry writes

The annual J. League awards took place last night, and on the S-Pulse sides of things our Genki Omae was selected in the best 32 players of the year. he didn't make the best 11, and was beaten by the three top scorers this season. He was only one goal out of the top three (well, four), so he only just missed out.

We reprised our now famous best pitch award sharing it this year with Niigata's Big Swan and Cerezo Osaka's Kincho Stradium. It's the 5th year in a row we've won it, and the 6th time in total. As always, respect to our groundsmen and women. You keep Nihondaira a veritable carpet.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

S-Pulse 0-0 Omiya Ardija

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 0-0 Omiya Ardija

Att 14729

Line Up



GK Yamamoto

DF Kawai
DF Hiraoka

DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu

MF Sugiyama
MF Kobayashi



FW Omae
FW Kim (40)
FW Takagi






 
Subs Used 




Ishige on for Kobayashi (58)
Nabeta on for Kawai (61) 

Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes

Kawasaki Frontale 2-1 S-Pulse
Renato 27 ------------------------------------------------ Takagi 54
Yajima 74

Att 19916

Line Up

GK Hayashi (75)

DF Yoshida (50)
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu
MF Ishige
MF Kawai
MF Kobayashi (77)

FW Omae
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Kim on for Ishige (71)
Takahara on for Kobayashi (79)

Sunday, 25 November 2012

S-Pulse 1-3 Gamba Osaka

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 1-3 Gamba Osaka
Omae 48 ------------------- Kurata 24, 64
--------------------------------- Leandro 52

Att 12391

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Lee

MF Sugiyama
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanda

FW Kawai
FW Omae
FW Kim

Subs used

Takagi on for Sugiyama (21)
Ishige on for Yoshida (58)
Kobayashi on for Hattanda (76)


Saturday, 10 November 2012

S-Pulse 2-0 Singapore / Jong a Pin

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 2-0 Singapore
Omae 19
Takahara 40

Miho Training Ground, Shimizu

Report

We've had a couple of visitors from Singapore today, so welcome!

S-Pulse beat the world number 163 (out of 207) today in a training match at Miho. Goals came from Omae and Takahara as most of our squad got a run our at one stage or another.

Jong a Pin didn't play, but this season's near ever-present defender may have been too busy signing a contract extension. I'm hearing today that he'll be staying with us at least for another season, and that is massive news.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Emperor's Cup 4th Round Draw

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse will play Cerezo Osaka in the Emperor's Cup 4th round. The game will be played away at Cerezo's second home ground, the Nagai Stadium, and is due to take place on Saturday, December 15th.

Cerezo beat us at the 1/4 stage last year, but looking back at our starting line up, we'll be maybe 8 players different this year, and we WILL beat them. Trust me. :)

A tantalising prospect, not very likely given Zelvia's impending demotion to the JFL, but tantalising nonetheless, is the fact that we're set to play the winners of the Gamba Osaka v Machida Zelvia. We all know who manages Machida, don't we? Only former S-Pulse boss Ossie Ardiles. Would be amazing to welcome Ossie back to Nihondaira (or whatever corner of the country the game is arranged for).

New Kit for 2013 Revealed!

Barry Barry writes

As previously tweeted, our new kit has been unveiled. Click here for the full information and graphics, or here for the promo picture.

It signals a departure from the classic all orange kits we've sported until now, with black shorts and a black arm. The breaking up of the orange gives it a more serious edge if you ask me, and I'm a fan. The world map design is retained, which is of course a good thing. My girlfriend, rather bizarrely, commented that the home shirt reminded her of a dog(!!!). Not really sure what she was getting at there.

Maybe the biggest change is that the away kit is now a striking shade of azure. For twenty years, there was an apparent consensus amongst all J1 teams that away kits must be white. This is wrong on so many levels, and I'm glad we've bucked that trend. None of that wishy, washy sky coloured cyan malarkey you understand. It's a strong, solid shade of blue. Looks pretty smart too.

If you fancy one you better dig out the old piggy bank. With a name and a number you'll be set back over 17000 yen. That's a cool £133 sterling. With most Premier League shirts going for under fifty notes, it's really hard to see how they can justify it, but if people will spend it... Think I'll put my 17000 yen towards an away day to Kyoto next season.

S-Pulse 0-1 Niigata

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 0-1 Niigata
--------------------------------- Ishikawa 59

Nihondaira Stadium, Shizuoka
Att. 8710

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong a Pin
DF Lee

MF Sugiyama (71)
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanda

FW Kawai
FW Omae
FW Nabeta

Subs Used

Kobayashi on for Hattanda (HT)
Takagi on for Kawai (61)
Senuma on for Lee (71)

Report

My ears are still ringing from the woman stood behind me full on SCREAMING each time we went close to scoring. Think the girl in Jurassic Park and you get some idea. With the way things were unfolding on the pitch, it was doing my mood no favours, I can tell you. Maybe a good job we didn't equalise last night, or it would've been goodbye ear drums.

Rather like the away game earlier in the season, we were the only team in it, but lost to a sucker punch. Niigata looked to me like a team happy to play out an end of season mid table clash, but the problem for them is that they're most likely going down to J2. Especially for the first and last 15 minutes of the second half we we all over them. We ever hit the bar, but the last ball just never seemed to find the right man, or rather the man with the space to trouble the keeper. It's important to remember (and hard to forget) that we played 120 minutes just four days before. It all adds up.

Hey, look on the bright side. Urawa got battered so we're still only a point off 3rd.  Three games to go, and everything to play for. 10 days off now because of a World Cup qualifying weekend, and the next game sees us home to Gamba Osaka. Around this time last year they sold out the away end as they were in with a (slender) chance of the title. This year they're on the brink of J2, and will be fighting for their lives. Should make for a lively game, and I hope we rise to the occasion.

Videos

 Some Niigata video, the first few seconds of which shows their goal.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

S-Pulse 1-2 Kashima Antlers (League Cup Final)

Barry Barry writes

S-Pulse 1-2 Kashima Antlers (aet)
Omae 77 (pen) ----------- Shibasaki 73 (pen), 93

National Olympic Stadium, Tokyo
Att 45228

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong a Pin (c) (111)
DF Lee (71)

MF Kawai (40)
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanda

FW Omae
FW Kim (79)
FW Takagi

Subs used

Kobayashi on for Kawai (64)
Ishige on for Hattanda (90+1)
Senuma on for Muramatsu (96)

Report

There can only be one winner and, after extra time, it was them. A very tight game, not much to choose between either team. They took their chance very well and it won them the game. I thought we controlled the game for the most part, but ran out of steam in extra time. The equalising goal didn't really look like coming and Kashima always threatened on the counter.

Gutted, but for our new, young team I feel nothing but pride at this year's cup run. Had some mind blowing moments along the way, and yeah, we lost, but I'm not incorrect in saying we have bigger fish to fry. A third place finish would technically gain us more than this cup would have, so here's to destroying Niigata on Wednesday and moving third. And we're still in the Emperor's Cup, the 4th round draw of which will happen on Thursday, so check back for details of our next opponents then.

As is now kind of traditional for cup finals posts, I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

 Who's that dodgy looking character?
Line ups
Beggars belief, but the official choreography was Kashima coloured. Horrific cock up by the organisers
 In the thick of it
 
The historic national stadium is to be rebuilt. It's currently a relic of a bygone era and is pretty awful, truth be told
 Maybe next year
Videos

Highights.



Us lot just before kick off.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cup Final Special! 2008 :( 2010 :( 2012?

Barry Barry writes

Not sure about you, but I've not been able to concentrate on anything this week. Now with just two days to go before 20000+ S-Pulse fans descend on Tokyo, here's a short special about my S-Pulse cup final experiences so far.

2008 - Nabisco Cup

Oita Trinita 2-0 S-Pulse

Went into this certain of victory. Oita were on a slump, we were riding high. Result? We lost 2-0. As you can imagine, absolutely gutted.

 As snapped by the J's Goal website
Minutes before kick off

2010 - Emperor's Cup

Kashima Antlers 2-1 S-Pulse

At the end of 2010 we played the quarter final and semi, then the final on New Year's Day, all in the space of a week. It was a whirlwind Christmas period and with the accompanying yuletide parties, presents and drinking, I've never known anything like it.

I even had an early night on New Year's Eve before a 7.30am shinkansen to Tokyo. As it happened, we had another cracking day out, but it all ended in tears.
A beautiful cup final day
Well, it didn't end completely in tears. Two hours drowning of sorrows saw to that

2012 - Nabisco Cup

S-Pulse v Kashima Antlers

So, Saturday. With the incredible fashion of the quarter final victory and then all the needle surrounding the semi, it's now all down to final day.
 
I wrote a piece about what this Saturday means to us which was published on Goal.com today. I've since had a lot of traffic as a result and a hundred new Twitter friends. Hello and thank you to all my new followers! Thank you for all the likes and tweets. :)
 
Read the article in Japanese here. It was translated by the Goal.com staff from my original English text which follows below. It borrows a little from a recent article in J. Soccer issue 4, but has been largely rewritten with Saturday in mind.

What Saturday Means to S-Pulse

Since the J. League kicked off two teams have dominated both domestic cup competitions. Across the League and Emperor’s Cups, Shimizu S-Pulse have made nine final appearances, with this weekend making a round ten. The Shizuoka team rank only behind Ibaraki rivals Kashima Antlers who will notch up their 14th visit to the National Stadium* when the two head off for the League Cup on Saturday.

While the two clubs lead the country in cup finals, one crucial statistic separates them. From Kashima’s thirteen finals, they have won eight. By contrast S-Pulse have returned from Tokyo empty handed on seven of nine trips.

My conversion to a Shimizu fan was completed in April 2004 after a dramatic 4-3 league victory. That my second game was a dour home defeat in torrential rain mattered not. The damage had been done. That season also saw local legend Kenta Hasegawa begin his reign as manager. The S-Pulse old boy moulded a team around crowd favourites like Cho Jae-Jin, Ito, Aoyama, Ichikawa, and Okazaki. Crowds flooded to Nihondaira to watch dynamic, attacking football, and a return to the glories of the late 90s looked just over the horizon. 

But during his six year tenure I repeatedly watched Kenta’s carefully constructed squad play like champions for half a season, only to choke and fade when it mattered most. Cup football was no exception. Between 2004 and 2010, Shimizu lost three semi finals and three finals. 2008’s League Cup final typified the era. Relative J1 newcomers Oita Trinita walked out for their first final clear underdogs against on-paper favourites S-Pulse. In practice we hesitated, faltered and never looked in it. A 2-0 defeat to a team who would get relegated in emphatic style the following season.

Hasegawa’s local standing granted him more leeway than most, but patience eventually wore thin. As we fell limply away from the 2010 title race he announced his resignation, and in Iran national team coach Afshin Ghotbi’s appointment a revolution began. The tightly-knit squad and deeply ingrained pecking order broke apart. The local-is-best inward looking ideology was replaced overnight by the internationally experienced Ghotbi’s global vision. 

The culture of nearly-men had to be attacked from the ground up, and while player departures may have robbed the club of some talent, it wiped the slate someway clean to begin work to that end. Shrewd signings like Hayashi, Lee, Jong-a-Pin, Muramatsu, and Kawai formed the new heart of the team. Players previously on the periphery such as Omae became regular starters. Remaining members of the old regime, unhappy at struggling to hold down positions, were shipped out on loan. 

By no means a painless process, I’ve witnessed tensions on the terraces as the wholesale changes robbed fans of long standing favourites. Bumps along the path as the new look team took time to gel found me urging patience is some of those around me. Now as 2012 nears its climax everybody’s hard work may be about to bear its first tangible fruit.

That is why Saturday takes on a special significance. After ten years of falling short, now is the time for Afshin’s youngsters to prove they’re not the nearly team of Shimizu’s recent history. The route to the final in itself displays some of their finest qualities. Going 4-2 down on aggregate in the 87th  minute of the quarter final second leg would for many signal game over. Not knowing when they were beaten, strikes in the 88th and 93th minutes levelled the score and gave S-Pulse an incredible away goals victory. The semi final was a comeback of a different kind. Having lost the first leg following a ludicrous FC Tokyo dive in the box and subsequent penalty, the 2-1 deficit was reversed after a comprehensive 3-0 win. That initial injustice, which could have overwhelmed young minds, was instead channelled into revenge. 

A first title for a decade would give Shizuoka City something it’s clearly craving, but it would be far more than just a trophy. Any lingering doubts or glances backwards would be wiped away and in the wave of momentum such a triumph creates, this exciting new team would be propelled on the road to even greater things. 

The league cup’s value as a competition has on occasion come under scrutiny, but throughout this campaign S-Pulse have used the tournament to its full. Valuable match experience, and in some cases full pro debuts, have been gained by youngsters like Senuma, Shirasaki, Inukai and Ishige. This helped prepare them for subsequent roles in our league campaign. Whatever the starting eleven for the final, it’s been a team effort in the truest sense and the day will belong to everyone who got us there. Victory would herald the arrival of a new era and Ghotbi’s Shimizu would rightfully claim a spot in S-Pulse history as a team of winners.

*It was since pointed out that the 1997 final was played over home and away legs, so there was no national stadium involved that season.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

This Saturday

What it's all about.


Kashima Antlers 1-2 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes 

Kashima Antlers 1-2 Shimizu S-Pulse
Iwamasa 43 ---------------------------------------- Kim 7
---------------------------------------------------------- Omae 44

Att 14125

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida (36)
DF Hiraoka
DF Lee (82)

MF Murayama
MF Sugiyama
MF Hattanda

FW Kawai
FW Ishige
FW Kim (96)
FW Omae

Subs Used

Kobayashi on for Yoshida (63)
Senuma on for Hattanda (76)
Jong-a-Pin on for Ishige (87)

Report - Deer Hunting

Yesterday I was being dragged around an aquarium with the other half, so no report of any substance, I'm afraid. I was stealthly checking the scores over the course of the day though, and as Hiroshima, Sendai and Urawa all dropped more points, we went into our early evening game with Kashima with everything to play for.

We started with defensive stalwart Jong-a-Pin on the bench, presumably just to rest him ahead of next week's cup final. He's been one of our best performers over the course of the season and we'll need him in perfect condition on Saturday. He came on for the closing stages to help keep the home team frustrated.

Our versatile line up included Hattanda and newcomer Senuma also made an appearance for the last 20 minutes. Kim showed a touch of class to get our first, and Omae got his 12th of the season to place him third in the top scorer list.

This season has been a real journey with the varied exits of Ono, Brosque, Jymmy, Edamura and Iwashita, but our squad has risen to the occasion superbly. A unified fighting unit, and I have every confidence that next week they'll bring the first silverware for a decade back to Shimizu.

Videos

Highlights.



And follow this link for more extended highlights. The video starts around 20 seconds. Finally, check out this video of some home fans, presumably upset at how bad their season is going, decide to lean over (but not climb over - wonder why?) the separating barrier between us and them and dish out some abuse.



Firstly, your anger is probably best directed at your team. Secondly, where was the security? ONE MAN in blue doing next to nothing. Had we not been so happy after the win, it could easily have turned nasty. Finally, try that in most any other country and you'd have got beaten shitless. Pathetic and pointless, and going to lead to a fine for Kashima. I'd say ban them, but that'd be doing them a favour. :)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

S-Pulse 1-1 Kobe

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 1-1 Kobe
Muramatsu 45+2 ------- Soma 13

Att 14772

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Yoshida
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin

MF Ishige
MF Sugiyama
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanda

FW Omae
FW Takagi (42)
FW Kim

Subs Used

Takahara on for Takagi (79)
Kobayashi on for  Hattanda (79)
Lee on for Yoshida (88)

Report

After the last four wins in a row which had put us up to 4th in the table and through to the next rounds in the cups, yesterday's draw with struggling Kobe came as a bit of a frustration. The first half wasn't great, but sheer persistence brought us level going in at the break. Muramatsu scored his third of the season from his head. It took a bit of a deflection on the way in, but on balance, we'd earned it.

I actually missed the Kobe opener thanks to the cameraman stationed directly behind us complaining about flags during Revive. Yeah, thanks for that cameraman. Use the gantry down the away end and you wouldn't have several thousand home fans waving flags right in front of you.

So anyway, after that first half, we were a lot better in the second and for most of it had Kobe hanging on. We just couldn't find the net though, and as the game went on Kobe threatened increasingly on the counter. In particular Takahara got dispossessed around the 90th minute and Kobe steamed forward and really should have won the game.

It ended 1-1, and with Hiroshima losing at home we're only nine points off the top with five games to go! In seriousness though, after third placed Urawa lost again we're only three points of third, and a win against Kashima next week could put us there.

So that's Kashima next week and then again the following week in the cup final. I won't be in Ibaraki next week, but wild horses wouldn't keep me away from the National Olympic Stadium November 3rd. The game completely sold out on the first day of general sale. Contrast with the last time Jubilo were in the final - it didn't sell out until the day of, and even then there were 6000 empty seats. ;-)

Have a good week - the update after next week's game will most likely come on the Sunday.

 Kick off
 Takagi, Omae, Ishige - average age 20
I'd be lying if I said my mind didn't keep drifting elsewhere

Videos

Click here for a link to full highlights, or watch a shorter video below.



And a personal video of Muramatsu's header.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Ishige to Man City! Kind of

Barry Barry writes 

Some wild reports were flying around this morning on what I've since learnt is the not-to-be-trusted Sponichi "news" website. They claimed our Hideki Ishige was being sized up for a £3 million bid from the Premier League champions, and immensely wealthy, Manchester City.

While incorrect, the reports carried a grain of truth in that Ishige will be off to Manchester at the end of the J. League season, but to join City's training for a spell.

Word from the club is that with the young star's future development in mind, this is an opportunity for him to learn and grow at the highest level. As for a transfer, that isn't currently on the agenda. And probably rightly so. He's still a kid, but with massive potential to play at the top of the game, and there's no need to rush into a transfer abroad.

Huge opportunity for him - good luck Ishige!

Monday, 15 October 2012

S-Pulse 3-0 FC Tokyo (Nab Cup 1/2 Final, 2nd Leg)

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 3-0 FC Tokyo
Omae 26, 63, 96 (pen)

S-Pulse win 4-2 on aggregate

Att. 12155

Line Up

GK Hayashi (74)

DF Jong-a-Pin (90)
DF Hiraoka
DF Yoshida

MF Ishige
MF Sugiyama (58)
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanda

FW Kim
FW Omae
FW Takagi

Subs Used

Kobayashi on for Takagi (74)
Nabeta on for Hattanda (94)

Report

As my previous semi-rabid post reported, we're going to the final, baby! The game happened while en route to Heathrow, so I couldn't find the outcome until I'd checked in, dropped off my bag and navigated security. Finally getting to an internet spot, I got online just in time to see Omae complete his hat trick and cement our place in the League Cup final.

Two weeks ago when I got on a plane heading the opposite direction, we had to face second placed Sendai, take a trip away to iwata, and had an Emperor's Cup 3rd round tie and a League Cup semi final to deal with. All in just two weeks. Well, take a bow lads - P4 W4 D0 L0. Goals for: 8 Goals against: 1. Our young team stepped up and made a statement loud and clear. After losing midfield talisman Brosque and team captain Ono you would have forgiven them for wavering or wobbling, but none of it.

Again, I'm afraid I can't comment too much having not seen the game (read our manager's thoughts here), but 3-0 is an emphatic response to the nature of our defeat in the first leg. I know may have gone on a bit about it, but I stand by my previous rantings. So anyway, here we go. Our first shot at silverware under our new regime, and from a personal aspect, my third time at the National Stadium with S-Pulse.

In 2008 Oita broke our hearts, and on New Year's Day 2011 Kashima stole cup glory from us. Our opponents on November 3rd, Antlers are not the same team they were, and more importantly, neither are we. We're better. We've got the measure of them and their ageing team is going to to have it very tough against out glory hungry youngsters. Ticket has been secured (thank you, Shunsuke!) and the countdown has begun!

The first trophy for a decade is on it's way Shimizu - I can just feel it!

Videos

Full highlights:



Some personal videos from YouTube user ssnnddttyy. I love these as it makes you feel you're there. Genki's goals in order. 1.



2. Takagi's ball for Genki's second is absolutely perfect, but Omae still had it all to do. Great finish.



3.


S-Pulse 1-0 Tokyo Verdy (Emp Cup 3rd Rnd)

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 1-0 Tokyo Verdy
Shirasaki  54

Att 3223

Line Up

GK Yamamoto

DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Yoshida (88)

MF Ishige
MF Kawai
MF Hattanda
MF Kang

FW Takagi
FW Shirasaki
FW Ito

Subs Used

Sugiyama on for Kang (56)
Kim on for Ito (65)
Muramatsu on for Shirasaki (83)

Report

Not much of one because I wasn't there and I'm writing this five days after the event. Just trying to catch up having missed a few games. Why not read match notes from someone who was there, ie, our manager, Afshin Ghotbi at his official website, here.

The 4th round will be against... I don't know yet. This year they're breaking with tradition and conducting a draw for the next round. Much better if you ask me. No more J1 teams being kept apart. The magic of the cup to my mind is just the opposite; big teams all knocking each other out and letting someone like Grimsby Town get through to the later stages. Anyway, as soon as I know the next opponents I'll let you know too.

I'll be getting the blog fully up to date over the next couple of days ahead of the home game with Kobe on Saturday.

Videos

A personal video of Shirasaki's winning strike. He's so far got four of our six Emperor's Cup goals.


Saturday, 13 October 2012

S-Pulse 3-0 FC Tokyo (League Cup semi final 2nd Leg)

We win 4-2 on agg! Get in you fucking beauty!!!! Right, I have a plane to catch.

WE'RE GOING TO THE NATIONAL STADIUM FOR THE CUP FINAL!!!!!!!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Iwata 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes 

Iwata 0-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
--------------------------- Muramatsu 20

Att 28785

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Hiraoka
DF Lee

MF Yoshida
MF Muramatsu
MF Sugiyama (88)

FW Hattanda (55)
FW Omae
FW Kim 
FW Kawai (33)

Subs Used

Takagi on for Omae (70)
Miyoshi on for Hattanda (92)
Ishige on for Kawai (94)

Report

All together now! "勝利は続くよ!どーこまでーもー野を越え山越え~磐田を越えてー
­!清水の勝利は続いてるー!狙うは磐田の首一つ!
ずびろ田舎!­ずびーろ田舎!"


Get in! That's the double over iwata this season, and it gets no sweeter! Thanks to all involved - this means so much to all of us in orange. Have a beer - you' ve earned it!

REAL SHIZUOKA: SHIMIZU!!!

Videos

Maybe blocked in Japan, but for those of us overseas:


Saturday, 29 September 2012

S-Pulse 3-1 Sendai

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 3-1 Sendai
Kim 70, 92 ----------------- Sugai 14
Senamu 84

Att 12131

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Miyoshi
DF Kawai
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Hiraoka
DF Lee (75)

MF Hattanda
MF Sugiyama

FW Omae
FW Kim (56)
FW Ishige

Subs Used

Senuma on for Miyoshi (65)
Yoshida on for Omae (95)
Shirasaki on for Ishige (96)

Report

Blimey, that's four wins taken off the two best teams in the country. Hiroshima and Sendai done both home and away. Credit where it's due as that is no small accomplishment.

A couple of changes with Hayashi back between the sticks the most noticeable. Kaito hasn't been playing badly, so I guess it's just another chance for Hayashi to stake a claim to the keeper spot. New signing Miyoshi made his first start, and Hattanda was back in midfield.

Sendai, going for the title and one of the higher scoring teams in the league, were limited to just three shots all game, with none whatsoever in the second half. The visitors lost Kamata to two yellows in five minutes around the hour mark, and that undoubtedly effected the outcome.

Kim got his first goal, predictably from his head, on the 70th minute. It had been coming since he joined and he was unlucky that he had to wait so long. He doubled his tally deep in injury time with a cheeky lob from just outside the centre circle. Lovely stuff!

Senuma made it two from two appearances with a well headed in effort from a corner. He's still a student and not with us full time until next season, so he must be setting some new S-Pulse history right now.

Very good result against a good team, and it bodes well considering we've just lost Brosque. This is a young team finding its feet and only going to get better. Bring on the scum on Saturday!! A win could put us 4th!

Videos

Highlights if you're outside Japan: (if you're in Japan, click here.)


Thursday, 27 September 2012

Brosque signs for Al-Ain

Barry Barry writes 

As you all know by now, Alex Brosque has signed for Al-Ain in the UAE. You'll be able to find more details on Twitter over the next few days as figures are revealed.

I'll keep it short as I'm off to England, but the money we'll get from this, plus Ono's vast wages and Takahara's similarly high remuneration will mean enough for three or four high quality youngsters. You only have to look at Lee, Hayashi, Jong a Pin and Brosque himself for some of the talent brought in on Ghotbi's watch.

Not to say this isn't a big blow, it is, but it's just one player. We're creating a team that doesn't rely on those who will be leaving in January (or before). The extra money, spent well, brings big opportunities.

OK, better finish packing.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Cerezo Osaka 3-2 S-Pulse

Barry Barry writes 

Cerezo Osaka 3-2 S-Pulse
Kempes 20 -------------------------------- Omae 9
Kakitani 45+2 ---------------------------- Brosque 70
Simplício 88

Att. 15302

Line Up

GK Yamamoto

DF Kawai
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Lee

MF Muramatsu (47)
MF Sugiyama
MF Brosque

FW Omae
FW Kim (45)
FW Hattanda

Subs Used

Ishige on for Hattanda (64)
Sho on for Muramatsu (90)

Report 

Cerezo were a team with a mission. They'd just watched their relegation rivals Gamba Osaka and Omiya Ardija win 5-0. To be fair Osaka's passing when it mattered was dangerous and penetrating, and that was where their goals came from.

Onwards and upwards. Home to league title hopefuls Sendai this Saturday. I'll be in England from Friday, so the blog update may be erratic for the next couple of weeks. Please bare with us! Saturday's game is at 5am UK time, so jetlag permitting I may even be up for live Twitter ranting and raving.

Videos

Full highlights.

Monday, 17 September 2012

S-Pulse 1-1 FC Tokyo

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 1-1 FC Tokyo
Omae 41 ------------------- Vučićević 59

Att. 13714

Line Up

GK Yamamoto

DF Kawai
DF Hiraoka
DF Jong-a-Pin (63)
DF Lee

MF Sugiyama
MF Muramatsu
MF Hattanada (72)

FW Omae
FW Ishige
FW Kim

Subs Used

Brosque on for Ishige (57)
Shirasaki on for Hattanda (74)
Ito on for Muramatsu (85)

Report

Starting with a whine, but got to get this off my chest: With the exception of Kashiwa Reysol, FC Tokyo are the absolute worst for claiming free kicks and complaining when they don't get them. It got to the point of farce the number of times blue and red arms were outstretched in hopeful appeal. Gonda in the away goal got a yellow precisely for prolonged remonstration about something or another. Consider the manner in which they won the recent cup semi final first leg, and I can surely be forgiven for not giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Accordingly, my stomach lurched as Omae dispossessed Yonemoto before teeing up the opening goal. The Tokyo midfielder was already stumbling before Omae took the ball, but he made sure to land flat out, arms spread wide. The ref was right in front of it and ignored him as he slid forlornly along the pitch.

A game of two halves, we were the better in the first 45, but were often under the cosh in the second. That said, out defence did a good job of restricting the visitors largely to attempts of little danger. They got what they came for in the 59th minute however, with a perfectly placed, and well struck, first goal from the Caron Baron, Vučićević.

Perhaps because of that notorious cup game, there was a tangible feisty air around the pitch. It was a fast paced, entertaining game for the neutral, I'm sure. It ended in frustration at 1-1, which the travelling fans seemed happy with, but in truth it didn't really suit either team's quest to make up ground on the ACL spots.

Good news was the return of Brosque from his international duties, and his introduction steadied the ship in a second half which threatened to get away from us. Omae's goal was a demonstration of his determination and striker's instinct to pounce on weakness, and his 10th of the season. So a draw, but a fair result. Nine games to go, with the next month arguably being the most important of our season.

In the next four weeks, we'll play title hopefuls Sendai at home, the sky blue scumbags away, Jymmy's current employers Tokyo Verdy in the Emperor's Cup, and the second leg of the League Cup semi final. Couldn't be a bigger month in terms of our year. Before all that we have a weekend in Osaka against the relegation threatened Cerezo on the 22nd.

Know how many of those I'll be at? None. :( I'm off to England in a fortnight, S-Pulse baby clothing in hand, for the birth of my brother's first son. I'll do my best to keep the blog updated, so stay tuned as we march on towards cup glory and the higher reaches of the league!

Pictures

 Pre-match egg and spoon races
2nd half kick off

Videos

Blocked in Japan, but click here for highlights. For those of you J side, personal videos. First Omae's goal. He totally earned that one.



The equaliser, in annoying slow motion.




Thursday, 13 September 2012

J. Soccer Magazine 5 - Full of S-Pulse!

Barry Barry writes 


Out in shops across Japan tomorrow, and available online right now. Issue 5 of the only bilingual Japanese football magazine is full of S-Pulse.

You can read exclusive interviews with Afshin Ghotbi and Alex Brosque on the current orange revolution, and  there also a little piece by yours truly.

There's also all kinds of other news, features and updates on Japanese football, so don't delay - get yours now! 

Saturday, 8 September 2012

S-Pulse 5-0 Arterivo Wakayama (Emp Cup 2nd Rnd)

Barry Barry writes 

S-Pulse 5-0 Arterivo Wakayama
Shirasaki 2, 25, 80
Ito 68
Kashiwase 91

Att 2864

Line Up

GK Hayashi

DF Jong-a-Pin
DF Inukai
DF Lee

MF Ishige
MF Muramatsu 
MF Kang
MF Hattanada

FW Shirasaki
FW Ito
FW Nabeta

Subs Used

Shibahara on for Nabeta (41)
Kashiwase on for Kang (60)
Kawai on for Shirasaki (80)

Report

Unilke Sapporo, Kobe, Hiroshima, FC Tokyo and Tosu, we didn't get giant killed. In fact, the gulf in class was so evident, this was the closest you can get to a walkover victory in football.

A very young team (average age of 22.6) showed it's potential and overcame with ease the Kasai league opponents. Wakayama offered very little threat, managed only three shots all game, and none of them troubled Hayashi.

By a twist of footballing fate, in the next round we meet Tokyo Verdy, current club of Jymmy Franca. He'll be back at Nihondaira on October 10th. Wednesday 7pm.

Pictures

 Wakayama's hardy travelling army
 Do we have the most colourful boots in the J. League? Maybe
 A Lee freekick goes close
Tomoya Inukai started after Hiraoka got hurt in the warm up - he did a sterling job

Videos

All the goals.