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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Vissel Lose Out to Ref

The Kobe Samurai reports on Vissel Kobe's first loss of the season at the hands of Masayoshi Okada.

Vissel Kobe suffered their first defeat of the season against Tokyo Verdy, falling to the first J.League goal for 18-year-old Verdy rookie, Kawano - in his 3rd game, but the game was probably decided not by any of the 22 players on the field, but by referee Masayoshi Okada deciding that Yoshito Okubo deserved a red card when former Vissel defender Yukio Tsuchiya's head collided with Okubo's arm, when
it seemed obvious that there was no intent WHATSOEVER from the Vissel forward. (Mark: Vissel are reportedly due to appeal the red card and the local NHK stations have shown the incident in their highlights of the game along.) It should be noted that I personally spoke to Tsuchiya after the game - along with numerous Verdy players - NONE of whom thought the offence warranted even a YELLOW card! The "offence" came a minute or so after Okada had been under some pressure, though, and it appeared a knee-jerk reaction to whatever had irritated him moments before. It has to be said, though, that any Verdy player who was seen to have their shirt hanging outside their shorts was soon reprimanded - Mr. Okada was not going to let them get away with that heinous offence!

The red card for Okubo was just one of many baffling decisions by the man in the middle today, who missed so many incidents all over the field, for both teams - while blowing his whistle for numerous
non-events - that players, coaching staff and fans alike - from BOTH teams were left exasperated. In fact, at the end of the game, Vissel fans were seen to be chanting slogans and demanding an audience with Mr. Okada outside the players' entrance!

Anyway, back to the game itself, and Vissel were sorely missing forward Leandro, out with a broken bone in his shoulder, and couldn't seem to penetrate upfront - when they did it seemed that Okada had
some pre-conceived notion that Okubo was a faker and gave him nothing, even though he was the victim of some manhandling, and an elbow at various times. It wasn't JUST Vissel that Okada had it in for, though. There were times when Hulk was halted by a late tackle - more from his speed beating the Vissel defenders, than from malice, but Okada was having none of it. Verdy were happy to soak up Vissel's
long ball tactics to the wings, or their non-penetrative passing in midfield with six defenders most of the time, relying only on their three-pronged Brazilian attack - Hulk, Leandro and Diego - when they
swarmed upfield on the counter-attack, they were rarely joined by more than one more attacker, going for speed and the power of Hulk's 25 metre blasts from all over the park. The statistics at the end
showed 27 shots for Verdy, though most must have been Hulk having a go from 25 yards out and not hitting the target - statistics, eh!?

With a little luck for Verdy, and better finishing from Vissel's Sudo, who had come on at half time for Yoshida (Park had replaced Kurihara, also), it could have ended 3-3, or more... but the lone
goal was all it took.

So, Verdy's first win of the season with a returning Hulk galvanising them, Vissel hitting their first defeat, suffering from injuries and Okada-itis.... but, it has to be said, Verdy looked a one-man team,
while Vissel looked out of sorts, but looking good to rebound.

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