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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Japan Ease Through to Qualifying Tourny

Peter Pakeman's take on Japan's performance in the first round of the the Aisan Cup.

In 1990, Osim took Yugoslavia to the quarter finals of the World Cup.
Last season Nakamura Shunsuké was voted Scotland's Footballer of the
Year by both the scribes and the Scottish PFA. Gordon Strachan has
described him as a genius.
Also last season, Takahara scored 17 goals in the Bundesliga.


It shows!

All three of Takahara's goals so far have shown awesome finishing.
The simplest, the header from about seven yards out, was
extraordinary. Shunsuké's precise cross had little power, quite a
soft centre, and Takahara was surrounded by defenders trying to put
him off; but somehow, without much run-up, he managed to rocket the
ball into the roof of the net. I was not exaggerating when I said it
was a header of spectacular power.


Of Japan's eight goals, Shunsuké has scored two and had three
assists; he has also had an assist-once-removed and helped to fox
UAE's defence for Endou's free-kick. He was brilliant with his two
assists for Maki: both crosses were low, so it was almost impossible
for Maki to perform his routine header over the bar! Don't get me
wrong! On the second one Maki deserves a lot of credit for the way
he fought his marker and got in a good diving header. But, whereas
for Takahara Shunsuké provided a standard cross, for Maki he made
sure that both crosses were below head height--this guy is becoming a
real wizard! Maki's hallmark is good positioning followed by
spectacular misses--Shunsuké has adapted to reality!

Osim's decision to kill off the ten-man UAE with possession football
with a 3-0 advantage in the oppressive conditions, rather than to
press for a big GD advantage, looks very good after the UAE beat West
Asia Champions Qatar 2-1. As it was, against Japan the UAE pulled a
goal back (with good hassling, impressive speed, excellent link play
and an excellent finish)--they are quite a dangerous team. If Japan
had pressed for more goals and tired themselves out, they might
easily have conceded three. Osim showed real killer instinct with an
unexpected, but eventually apparently correct, judgment.


Yokohama Fail to Capitalize on Narazaki Injury

Yokohama finally manage to breach the Grampus defense in a league game, managing a feat that was beyond JEF, Ventforet and Albirex. Even after loosing Narazaki to injury after just 10 minutes, the team managed to extend its unbeaten run in the league to eleven games, extending back into the final seven games of last season. The injury to Narazaki means that despite a serious setback through substituions forced by injury in the opening half of three of its four games, the team still has not been seriously tested.


I only saw the last 30 minutes of this game, and although Grampus were not at their best, Yokohama did not have enough edge to make some enterprising play pay dividends. No sooner had the former Flugels gone in front, than an accurate Masukawa cross was headed home by Keita Sugimoto. Surrendering the lead so soon proved too much for Yokohama's fragile confidence and Grampus were able to take the lead just a couple of minutes later.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Pixie for Grampus (or Japan)?

Some of the Japanese newspapers seem to think that Dragan "Pixie" Stojkovic could be a possibility to stand in for the ailing Osim. I am not convinced about Pixie as a manager for Grampus, let alone Japan. He showed little inclination to coach the players around him when he was a player at Nagoya, unlike Dunga at Jubilo Iwata. He often just threw a tantrum when players failed to read situations, just like Dunga. :-) Would the JFA really go for an inexperienced and temperamental coach? Surely, Okada or Nishino would be better choices for Japan.


On the other hand, Nagoya have been bringing on youngsters over the last couple of year. (18 y.o. rookie Maya Yoshida has started the last three or four games and several other games this season, and another graduate of last years U-18 team, GK Hasegawa has been on the bench several times.) Under Sef and Dwight, the team has looked too concerned with organization, but Pixie maybe be able to instill some much needed adventure and flair from some of the more talented players, such as Honda and Nakamura. My impression from reports about Stojkovic not having the requisite J.League license, was that the club was using this as an excuse. If they feel the JFA would consider him, they may give him a chance at Grampus. While it would be a bit of a gamble appointing Pixie as manager, with the right assistant at his side he could prove surprisingly successful.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Grampalogue is Back!

Coming soon to a browser near you...
..but probably not here, since Google does not let you do anything off-line.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Nagoya Ease Past Kofu

Nagoya earn another 2-0 result, with a controlled performance against a spirited Kofu.


This was a game that saw Nagoya fairly comfortable in control for most of the match, although Kofu do try to play some good football. However, I still think that the loss of Bare to Gamba may prove fatal to their chances of survival in J1 this year.


The game started with one of the few instances of Grampus playing as was expected before the season began, a deep ball from midfield was flicked on Frode Johnsen for Keita Sugimoto to fire in a shot from a tight angle, that was easily dealt with by Abe in the Ventforet goal. Having praised Keita for some intelligent play in the opening game, he spent most of the first half of this game straying offside. Fortunately, he managed to correct this revision to the wasteful ways of last year and was much more effective in the second half.


This lack of focus to the Grampus attack meant that Kofu had slightly the better of the first 45 minutes, with Alberto flashing a shot across the face of goal and Ken Fujita wasting a couple of good chances. Nagoya's flow was not helped by an injury to Atsushi Yoneyama midway through the half that saw him replaced with second year youngster Takeuchi after 36 minutes. Thereafter, most of Nagoya's efforts came via Honda free-kicks, while Kofu saw Suzuki volley a shot straight at Narazaki and Alberto fail to capitalize after getting free inside the box.


The second half saw Grampus settle into their rejigged defensive formation, with Masayuki Omori taking charge of the central role. This untested formation was able to restrict Kofu to a couple of long-range efforts by Shigehara, while the midfield and attack was able to probe the Ventforet defense more effectively than they had been able to do in the opening half. A scuffed Nakamura shot that drifted wide, and a neat Kim flick and shot that flew just over the bar set the tone for the remainder of the match.


Nagoya duly took the lead when Kim slotted home a wicked Sugimoto cross-ball across the face of goal. Soon after this, Naoshi Nakamura made one of his surging runs from midfield that eventually saw his show cleared off the line. Grampus continued to look comfortable but had to wait until the 80th minute to extend their lead, as Honda slipped in a pass for the recently introduced Tamada to tap home at the near post. Johnsen should have added to the lead, but was unable to control his shot after Nakamura pulled a pass back across to him after another good run.

































































































































































































Pos.

Ventforet Kofu



Nagoya Grampus Eight

Pos.

GK

Kensaku Abe



Seigo Narazaki

GK

DF

Arata Sugiyama



Masayuki Omori

DF

DF

Michitaka Akimoto



Atsushi Yoneyama
(Akira Takeuchi 36)

DF

DF

Takuma Tsuda



Takahiro Masukawa

DF

DF

Hideami Yamamoto



Keisuke Honda

DF

MF

Kentaro Hayashi
(Daisuke Sudo 87)



Kei Yamaguchi

MF

MF

Ken Fujita



Toshiya Fujita

MF

MF

Katsuya Ishihara



Kim Jung Woo

MF

FW

Kenta Suzuki
(Taro Hasegawa 64)



Naoshi Nakamura

MF

FW

Alberto
(Josimar 78)



Frode Johnsen

FW

FW Tekehito Shigehara

Keita Sugimoto
(Keiji Tamada 78)

FW







Scorers: Kim 50, Tamada 79




Monday, 5 March 2007

Grampus Off to Solid Start

Grampus get the new season under way, with a comfortable 2-0 win over JEF United.



The game saw a nervy first half, with neither team able to take control of the game in. Indeed it was the away team that would have the better chances over the half, with Kurobe seeing Narazaki tip a glancing header onto a post, and then later failing to finish after making a break into space inside the box. These instances aside, Nagoya closed down their opponents fairly effectively, even if they were not able to exert much pressure with their own possession.



Nagoya's tentative start was exacerbated by the loss of central defender Spilar after a nasty, twisting tumble shortly before the 20-minute mark. The injury was sustained in what otherwise looked a fairly innocuous clash with JEF's Hanyu, but is expected to sideline Spilar for most of the season. Fortunately, Spilar's replacement Yoneyama proved a more than capable substitute, and quickly looked at home in the back line. Spilar's injury, however, means that the team is now short of experienced cover for the central defensive role should either Yoneyama or Masukawa sustain a knock, or suffer a loss of form.



Offensively, Grampus struggled to pose a serious threat to the JEF goal. This was partly due to Norwegian striker Johnsen spending most of the half, and much of the second, dropping back into a midfield position. This meant that the team was not able to make rapid progress forwards with balls that Johnsen could hold up or lay off to the speedy Sugimoto or Nakamura. Indeed, the team's only clear-cut chance in the half came when Nakamura made a surging run from midfield, only to see his shot ricochet off a defender. The ball fell invitingly for Sugimoto, but he wastefully blasted over the bar.



0-0 at half time, and game that either team could swing in their direction.



Both teams came out with the intention of playing at a higher pace after the break, but despite a few neat buildups by JEF, Nagoya were able to gradually assert control over the game. JEF showed some neat build-up play in the early stages of the half, which saw Hanyu fail to capitalize on a good opening, due to a poor first touch. However, Grampus gradually assumed control and Sugimoto should have done better than steer a a diving header wide of the post.



Kim was next to waste a good chance at the far post, after being picked out by a raking cross by Honda, blasting over from close range. Fortunately, he was able to make amends for his profligacy when Sugimoto dribbled into the corner of the box, then laid the ball off for him to blast low into the far corner of the JEF net.



Sugimoto almost got on the score-sheet himself when a neat through ball from Honda saw him race onto the edge of the box only to see his shot to the near post parried away by the JEF custodian. Honda wrapped up the scoring in the dying moments, when he chased down a casual back-pass, putting enough pressure on the flustered keeper to induce panic, and poke home the loose ball.



Although this could hardly be called a commanding performance, and is hardly likely to have the likes of Gamba or Urawa glancing nervously over their shoulders, it was more convincing than last season's opening game and the team was worth the two goal difference over the 90 minutes. More importantly, the team managed to keep a clean sheet despite losing a key defender with only a quarter of the game gone.



In terms of individual performances, both Kim and Sugimoto seem to have learnt some lessons from last season. Kim looked dangerous and managed to play the full 90 minutes without picking up a yellow card. It was his tendency to collect bookings that detracted from generally good play last year. Having spent most of last year getting repeatedly caught off-side, Sugimoto managed to consistently trouble the JEF defence with his pace, while not straying off-side.



Masukawa looks to be in the fine form with which he ended last season, making some good forays forward while not neglecting his defensive duties. However, the midfield in general will need to improve if the team is to create enough offense to get the team into the higher positions in the table. As was the case for most of last year, Japan U-22 Honda looked our most creative player, but should not be expected to create all the chances the team creates.


































































































Pos.
Nagoya Grampus Eight

JEF United
Pos.
GK
Seigo Narazaki

Masahiro Okamoto
GK
DF
Masayuki Omori

Nenad Djordjevic
(Park Jong Jin 84)
DF
DF
Takahiro Masukawa

Ilian Stoyanov
DF
DF
Marek Spilar
(Atsushi Yoneyama 19)

Hiroki Miizumoto
DF
DF
Keisuke Honda

Yuto Sato
MF
MF
Kei Yamaguchi

Koji Nakajima
MF
MF
Toshiya Fujita

Koji Mizuno
MF
MF
Kim Jung Woo

Satoru Yamagishi
(Kohei Kudo 77)
MF
FW
Naoshi Nakamura

Naotake Hanyu
MF
FW
Frode Johnsen

Seiichiro Maki
FW
FW
Keita Sugimoto
(Keiji Watanabe 83)

Teruaki Kurobe
(Tatsunori Arai 71)
FW

Scorers: Kim 76, Honda 89