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.