Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Argentina Down Improved Japan

A much improved performance by Japan's U-23s saw them give their Argentinean competitors a decent game, but failing to register on the scoresheet. The Japan Times has this good, if overly optimistic, report of the game.

Yes, Japan were much improved and generally held their own in midfield and defence. This was partly helped by Argentina's tendency to try and walk the ball into the net. However, Japan did not really look like
scoring and seem set to emulate the full national team's performance at France 98, giving a good impression of themselves, while failing to get results. The teams certainly has potential to do well in Beijing, but that has been true for a couple of years now and they still not appear to have a coherent strategy or style. Still, it was a much better display than against Australia on Saturday.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Grampus Stymie Charging Frontale

In what could prove to be another vital result, Nagoya earn a share of the points at Todoroki Stadium, against the streaking Kawasaki Frontale.

This game saw Grampus take the lead early in the first half, when Magnum lashed home ball from Keiji Tamada. Frontale then equalised early in the second half and for spell thereafter looked like going on to win the game. However, Grampus found their second wind and were able to neutralise most of Frontale's efforts towards the end, and even had their own chances to win the game. The result leaves Nagoya tied with Urawa on 33 points in third place, only two points off leaders Kashima.

Kawasaki Frontale
Eiji Kawashima
Hiroki Ito, Yusuke Igawa, Shuhei Terada (Tomonobu Yokoyama 14)
Satoru Yamagishi (Kurotsu 87), Vitor Junior, Kengo Nakamura, Kosuke Kikuchi, Kazuhiro Murakami
Juninho, Chong Tese (Kazuki Ganaha 67)
Scorers: Vitor Junior 52

Seigo Narazaki
Akira Takeuchi, Milos Bajalica, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Yoshizumi Ogawa. Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Atsushi Yoneyama 67), Magnum (Kei Yamaguchi 84)
Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 70), Frode Johnsen
Scorers: Magnun 12

Friday, 25 July 2008

Aimless Youngsters Squeak Past Aussies

Japan's U-23 Olympic team squeezed past their Australian counterparts 2-1 last night at Kobe. As has been the norm for this team, and indeed its Yamamoto-led predecessors, there was little or no co-ordination to the team's play.

The lack of co-ordination seems to be obligatory for this group, as Australia's goal came as a result of failed attempt to chest-pass to a team mate by Nagoya's normally reliable Maya Yoshida after 30 minutes. The Australians latched onto the loose ball and striker Thompson was given an easy finish.

Apart from this early setback, the defence again looked quite solid. As always, it was the lack of accuracy and imagination in building attacks that makes this team look likely to make an early return from Beijing. This is despite Japan's equalizer coming from a rare piece of skilful interplay by Uchida and Morimoto to setup Cerezo's Kagawa for an easy finish just before half time. However, Morimoto had already wasted a couple of good chances after being put through by VVV's Honda.

A scrappy second half looked destined to see the Australians earn a draw, but a glancing header from Okazaki found its way into the far corner as the clock ran down.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Grampus Bounce Back with BIG Home Win

After a series of disappointing performances, Nagoya score a big 4-0 home win to climb back into third position. They are now the only "surprise" team in a top four that also consists of Kashima, Urawa, and Gamba Osaka. This was also an important win as it the team will be without one of its best defenders for a few games, as Maya Yoshida seeks Olympic glory in Beijing.

Seigo Narazaki
Akira Takeuchi, Milos, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Yoshizumi Ogawa. Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura, Magnum
Keiji Tamada, Frode Johnsen
Scorers: Yoshimura, Magnun, Johnsen, Sugimoto

Omiya Ardija
Koji Ezumi

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Sorimachi Gambles on Youngsters Blossoming in China

Japan's Olympic football team coach Yasuharu Sorimachi gambles on youth alone for his Olympic team. Having seen both his choices for overage players fall by the wayside, Japan will be going to the games with no overage players on the team. While this will mean there is no disruption with the addition of new players, it does leave the team light on experience and firepower.

Although the team has plenty of potential in defence and midfield, it looks like the team may struggle to score goals. None of the candidates up front have really convinced during qualification. In particular, former Grampus striker seems a bit of gamble, since he has scored only two goals in nine games for Montedio. His selection looks as though it is based on the hope that he can form a good partnership with former Grampus colleague Keisuke Honda.

Japan U-23 Squad for Beijing
GK: Kaito Yamamoto (Shimizu S-Pulse)
GK: Shusaku Nishikawa (Oita Trinita)
DF: Hiroki Mizumoto (Kyoto Sanga)
DF: Yuto Nagatmo (FC Tokyo)
DF: Masato Morishige (Oita Trinita)
DF: Michihiro Yasuda (Gamba Osaka)
DF: Atsuto Ushida (Kashima Antlers)
DF: Maya Yoshida (Nagoya Grampus)
MF: Takuya Honda (Shimizu S-Pulse)
MF: Hiroyuki Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
MF: Yohei Kajiyama (FC Tokyo)
MF: Hajime Hosogai (Urawa Reds)
MF: Keisuke Honda (VVV Venlo)
MF: Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo Osaka)
FW: Yohei Toyoda (Montedio Yamagata)
FW: Tadanari Lee (Kashiwa Reysol)
FW: Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse)
FW: Takayuki Morimoto (Calcio Catania)

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Grampus Finally Drop to More Realistic Position

After 15 games, with Nagoya leading or sharing the lead in the league standing, the team finally drops to a more realistic third position after a 1-2 defeat in Niigata. Only Gamba's loss at Kashiwa prevented them climbing above Grampus into third place. While it is still too soon to tell if the 4-0 defeat at the hands of Kashima will seriously undermine the team's confidence, the 1-0 win at Chiba on Wednesday suggests it will not. While it would be great if Nagoya could challenge for the league title this year, they do not really have the squad to do so yet. I would much rather Stojkovic strengthen the team during the off-season, than for them to over achieve in his first year as boss. Besides, given the half-hearted job Okada is doing as Japan manger, the JFA is likely to be looking for a new national team manager later this year. Pixie needs to prove that he can sustain this success over a a couple years before he should even be considered for the national team.

Grampus Inflict First Defeat on Alex Miller's JEF

Former Liverpool head coach Alax Miller tastes defeat for the first time as Nagoya earn a slender 1-0 win in the away leg of the Nabisco Cup 1/4 finals. I have not seen this game, but the Daily Gomiuri has a report on its web site.