Monday, 29 June 2009

Grampus Sink Into Bottom Half

Two clinical first half goals by Matsushita, the first after a Pedro Junior shot cam back off a post, saw Nagoya fall to their third league loss in a row. Tamada had a perfectly good goal, from a lay-off by Davi, disallowed midway through the first half, which would have evened the score. However, the officials inexplicably ruled the goal out despite no trace of offside or a foul by either Tamada or Davi. As it was, Grampus did not get on the score sheet until just before the end, when he tucked home a through ball from Tamada.

The return of Magnum to the starting lineup backfired as the out-of-touch midfielder promptly picked up two yellow cards ad was back in the dressing room after less than half an hour. The Brazilian was still incensed by the disallowed goal, which may have been ruled out due to his play in the buildup, although the infraction was awarded on the six yard line while Magnum's play had taken place more than 30 yards away.

Albirex Niigata
Takashi Kitano
Jun Uchida, Mitsuru Chiyotanda, Kazuhiko Chiba, Hiroshi Nakano
Isao Honma (Ju Marques Davidson 37), Marcio Richardes, Toshihiro Matsushita
Kisho Yano, Hideo Oshima (Cho Young Cheol 77), Pedro Junior (Atomu Tanaka 89)
Scorers: Matsushita 5, 43

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka (Keita Sugimoto 71), Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe (Akira Takeuchi HT)
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi 67), Keiji Yoshimura, Magnum
Keiji Tamada, Davi
Scorer: Sugimoto 89

Kobe Fire Blanks in Loss to Urawa

Vissel went down to a fairly predictable 2-0 loss in Saitama, as Urawa rediscovered their winning touch. Although the loss leaves Kobe dengerously close to the relegation zone, this game saw Botti start his comeback from injury, coming on as a sub in the second half. The team can also take heart from the fact that despite failing to score, Okubo put in a good performance that should stand them in good stead when Botti regains match fitness and Kim returns to the team.

Urawa Reds
Kenta Tsuzuki
Nobuhisa Yamada, Tulio, Yuki Abe, Takuya Nagata (Shunki Takahashi 70)
Keita Suzuki, Hajime Hosogai, Naoki Yamada (Yoshiya Nishizawa 87), Genki Haruguchi (Ponte 80)
Naohiro Takahara, Edmilson
Scorers: Edmilson 2, Takahara 42

Tatsuya Enomoto
Kunie Kitamoto (Hiroki Kishida 74), Teruaki Kobayashi, Tsuneysu Miyamoto, Ryuhei Niwa
Hideo Tanaka, Ryosuke Matsuoka, Alan Bahai (Botti 60), Yoshito Okubo
Marcel (Kazuki Ganaha 60), Hiroto Mogi

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Kennedy Signs for Grampus: Not expected to play until mid-July

Australian striker Joshua Kennedy has indeed signed for Nagoya, at a reported transfer fee of around 67 mil yen. While his record in Germany has not been spectacular, he should be a good signing for the club. The team clearly misses a centre forward style player who can lay the ball off the way Frode Johnsen did last year. I certainly hope 'Josh' settles in quickly (and gets his work visa even quicker) and earns an extension to the six-month contract.

Other Views
The Guardian: Socceroos striker Kennedy joins Japan's Nagoya
TribalFootball: Kennedy relieved at joining Nagoya Grampus

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Nagoya Advance to ACL Quarter-finals

Despite a far from convincing performance, the return of Ogawa to the team and gradual return to form by Tamada sees Grampus make the last eight. The 2-1 loss is a bit harsh on Suwan, who played well enough to at least take the game to extra-time. However, their wayward shooting from distance meant that they failed to trouble Narazaki as often as their possession and hustle deserved.

Nagoya Grampus Vs. Suwon Bluewings at

Nagoya can now concentrate on re-finding their form in the league, where they still have an outside chance of making an ACL berth for next year.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe (Masaya Sato 90+1)
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi 81), Keiji Yoshimura, Tomohiro Tsuda (Akira Takeuchi 72)
Keiji Tamada, Davi
Scorers: Ogawa 22, Tamada 66

Suwan Bluewings
Lee Woon Jae
Yang Sang Min, Li Wei Feng, Kwak Hee Ju, Park Hyunbem (Cho Yongtae 73)
Lee Sang Ho, Hong Soonhak, Choi Sunghwan, Choi Sunghyeon (Kim Dae Eui HT)
Eduardo, Cho Yong Tae (Baek Jihoon 64)
Scorer: Eduardo 68

Monday, 22 June 2009

Own Goals Sink Vissel

Despite the league very generously crediting Hiroshima's first and last goals to Hattori and Sato, they were in fact deflected past the hapless Enomoto by Kitamoto. Not that Sanfrecce were not worth the victory, they were much the more effective attacking team throughout the contest.

The return of Okubo had little effect in the first half for Kobe, as Marcel continued to occupy an unjustified slot in the starting line-up. Things improved after half-time, when the static Brazilian was replaced by rookie Kusunose, as Vissel raced to an improbable 3-2 lead. However, they were unable to hold back the purple tide and were eventually washed away in the last five minutes of the game.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Hirotsugu Nakabayashi
Tomoaki Makino, Stoyanov, Kohei Morita
Mikic, Toshihiro Aoyama, Koji Nakajima, Kota Hattori, Yojiro Takahagi
Yosuke Kashiwagi, Hisato Sato
Scorers: Hattori? 1, Makino 44, Kashiwagi 84, Sato? 85

Tatsuya Enomoto
Toshihiko Uchiyama, Kunie Kitamoto, Tsuneysu Miyamoto, Yosuke Ishibitsu
Hideo Tanaka (Park Kang Jo), Ryosuke Matsuoka, Ryuhei Niwa, Yoshito Okubo (Takayuki Yoshida 71)
Marcel (Akihito Kusunose HT), Hiroto Mogi
Scorers: Okubo 46 (PK), Ishibitsu 50, Mogi 66

Friday, 19 June 2009

Hungry JEF Embarrass Sluggish Grampus

This game saw Japan forward Keiji Tamada start on the bench. This meant that both Maki brothers started the match, with Yuki Maki partnering Davi upfront for Grampus, after four goals in a practice game last week against a high school team. This lack of sharpness for Grampus showed as the hungrier JEF made off with the three points. The arrival of Joshua Kennedy is timely, as the team is struggling to find a style that allows Davi to play to his full potential.

The loss sees Grampus drop out of contention, as Kashima extend their lead at the top to seven points over Niigata and Urawa. Nagoya lie a further six points back, and only four points from the relegation zone. Last season, the team over achieved, staying in contention throughout the season. This meant that manager Stojkovic could not try out many of the youngsters, since the old guard was getting results. Their failure to do so this year, gives him the chance to give the younger squad players a chance to prove themselves.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Keita Sugimoto (Koji Hashimoto 79), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Kei Yamaguchi 64), Tomohiro Tsuda (Keiji Tamada 62)
Yuki Maki, Davi

JEF United
Masahiro Okamoto
Masataka Sakamoto, Yohei Fukumoto, Bosnar, Takumi Wada
Yohei Kudo, Tomi Shimomura, Alex, Tatsuya Yazawa (Daisuke Sato 87), Tatsunori Arai (Michael 76)
Seiichiro Maki, Masaki Fukai
Scorers: Fukai 81

Thursday, 18 June 2009

AFC Match Fixing

For those who think the AFC and the ACL is nothing more than a plaything for rich Arabs, here is Exhibit A.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Japan Footy on FootyTube

There are numerous videos for Japan and J.League teams over at FootyTube these days. Not sure how long they will stay there, but the League ought to allow what is effectively free promotion of the game in Japan.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Kazuki Gets His Chance (at last)

Vissel's Okinawan forward strikes late in the game to give Kobe a much deserved win. Although the arthritic Marcel started the game, common sense prevailed in the second half as he made way for the more sprightly Ganaha. Hopefully, this will see Ganaha earn a place in the starting lineup next time.

The only criticism of this much improved team performance has to be that despite having 19 efforts on goal, they only scored from one of them.

Kenta Tokushige
Toshihiko Uchiyama (Akihito Kusunose HT), Kunie Kitamoto, Tsuneysu Miyamoto, Yosuke Ishibitsu
Hideo Tanaka, Ryuhei Niwa, Alan Bahia, Kenji Baba (Park Kang Jo 73)
Marcel (Kazuki Ganaha HT), Hiroto Mogi
Scorer: Ganaha 90

Montedio Yamagata
Kenta Shimizu
Ryo Kobayashi, Takuya Miyamoto, Hidenori Ishii, Tatuya Ishikawa
Kim Byung Suk (Kohei Miyazaki 62), Masaru Akiba, Takumi Watanabe, Katsuyuki Miyazawa
Tomoyasu Hirose (Tetsuro Ota 82), Nobuyuki Zaizen (Shogo Sakai 77)

Friday, 12 June 2009

Where Next for Keisuke?

The European transfer window looks likely to see former Grampus midfielder, Keisuke Honda move on from VVV Venlo. From a football viewpoint, another year or two at VVV, where he is an established key player, playing in the Dutch top division is probably his best option. Helping them establish themselves in the top division, something he failed to do in his first season, would be impressive. However, it also runs the risk of seeing his value diminish, if VVV prove to be not quite good enough.

However, staying with VVV would probably mean extending his contract, and other clubs are likely to offer more lucrative offers. He and his agent will have to weight the balance of these offers carefully. A Japanese club may be fooled by his MVP performance in a weak league (even some of the teams in the top division are weaker then many J1 teams), but a move to a European club means he would likely have to prove himself all over again. Certainly if he were to move to one of the more famous clubs, such as PSV or Ajax, he would not be guaranteed regular playing time until he has established himself in the team. If he wants to be sure of place in Japan's World Cup squad for next year, he will have to choose carefully.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Kennedy keen on England move - Fox Sports

Some Japanese media outlets are suggesting that lanky Aussie striker will be donning a Nagoya Grampus team shirt in the near future. However, it seems that he could be making his way to the Premiership.

Kennedy keen on England move - Football - Fox Sports

Kennedy would make a logical acquisition to the Grampus squad, since it would free up Davi and Tamada to play roles that better exploit their speed. It would also fit with our tactic of using the wings, especially as Shohei Abe seems to be slowly improving the accuracy of his crosses.

Monday, 8 June 2009

NC: Johnsen and Co Knock Vissel Out

Kobe mode it official on Sunday, they don't like crumbs and are not interested in the Nabisco Cup, thank you very much.

Despite fielding what in theory was a strongish team, despite very little chance of making the next stage, Kobe put in a half-hearted performance against Shimizu. It is hard to see why they did not use the opportunity to try out some of their promising youngsters, who would at least have been motivated to try and catch the manger's eye.

Kobe got off to a flying start, Mogi winning a penalty after 45 seconds from a rash challenge, and Marcel squeezing home the kick from the spot. However, that was about all the threat the team managed until they found themselves a goal behind with 15 minutes to go. Both teams were pretty ineffective in the first half, and only Hara's equalizer (rifled in from a tight angle) enlivened proceedings after the excitement of the opening minute.

Former Nagoya striker Frode, worked hard up front and despite his technical shortcomings, always tried to help Shimizu get back into the game. He dropped back into midfield frequently, and helped S-Pulse look the more adventurous team in the second half. It was therefore no surprise to see him give S-Pulse a deserved lead, when he poked home the loose ball after Tokushige had fumbled a fierce Hyodo shot. Unfortunately, he was dismissed for a second yellow card shortly afterwards; reacting angrily to reckless challenge. As is usually the case, the referee only saw the reaction and exchange of words, and Johnsen duly received his marching orders. However, his goal saw S-pulse go top of the group and assures them of a place in the quarter-finals, where they could well face his former employers Grampus (if S-Pulse still top the group after next weekend's final group games.)

Kenta Tokushige
Toshihiko Uchiyama, Kunie Kitamoto, Tsuneysu Miyamoto, Yosuke Ishibitsu
Hideo Tanaka, Park Kang Jo (Ryuhei Niwa HT), Ryosuke Matsuoka (Alan Bahia HT), Takayuki Yoshida (Akihito Kusunose 80)
Marcel, Hiroto Mogi
Scorer: Marcel 1 (PK)

Shimizu S-Pulse
Kaito Yamamoto
Shinji Tsujio (Junpei Takagi 63), Naoaki Aoyama, Keisuke Iwashita, Arata Kodama
Jungo Fujimoto, Teruyoshi Ito, Takuma Edamura (Takuya Honda 87), Akihiro Hyodo (Marcos Polo 81)
Frode Johnsen, Kazuki Hara
Scorers: Hara 36, Johnsen 77

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Japan Clinch Berth at 2010 World Cup

Japan duly booked their ticket for South Africa last night, with an accomplished 1-0 victory over Uzbakistan in Tashkent. Shinji Okazaki scored the lone goal after nine minutes, nodding home the rebound from his original toe-poked effort, as he tumbled under the challenge of a couple of Uzbek defenders.

Japan should have extended their lead later in the half, when Yoshito Okubo tucked home the rebound after an YasuhitoEndo free-kick came back off the post. However, the Syrian ref was determined to do all he could to keep the outclassed Uzbeks in the contest and duly disallowed the goal. Even with their extra man, the Uzbeks were incapable of mounting a serious threat to Narazaki's goal. A series of wild crosses and rugby conversions were all the managed for most of the match. It took another intervention by their Syrian friend to even up the contest, as he found an excuse to send both Makoto Hasebe and manager Okada off in the second half. However, Japan held on until the final whistle, and apart from an injury time save, when he tipped a well-struck free-kick onto the bar, Narazaki was rarely troubled.

Uzbekistan Vs. Japan at

Other Views:
Daily Gomiuri: Japan 1st in world to qualify for 2010 World Cup
The Guardian: Japan, Australia and Holland qualify for World Cup finals Japan coach Okada happy as qualification secured

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Reysol Whip Vissel in NC

Kashiwa Reysol avenged their recent 3-1 loss at HOME's Stadium with a comprehensive 3-0 home win in the Nabsico Cup. A result that basically ends Kobe's interest in the tournament and leaves Kashiwa in with a chances of making the last eight.

Kashiwa Reysol
Takenori Sugeno
Masahiro Koga, Hidekazu Otani, Yuzo Kobayashi, Yusuke Murakami
Iwao Yamane, Ryoichi Kurisawa (Shu Abe 57), Masato Yamazaki (Minoru Suganuma 48),
Hideaki Kitajima (Popo 68), Tadanari Lee, Yuki Otsu
Scorers: Kitajima 58, 62, Lee 90

Kenta Tokushige
Toshihiko Uchiyama, Kunie Kitamoto, Tsuneysu Miyamoto, Yosuke Ishibitsu
Hideo Tanaka, Park Kang Jo (Ryuhei Niwa 68), Ryosuke Matsuoka (Kenji Baba 57), Takayuki Yoshida (Akihito Kusunose 68)
Marcel, Hiroto Mogi