Saturday, 29 August 2009

Grampus Leapfrog Sinking Reds

Nagoya's narrow 1-0 win over Niigata, along with Kobe's more convincing win over Urawa, sees them rise to eight in the table, one place above the fast sinking Reds.

New recruit, Igor Burzanovic, had a hand in Tamada's goal, sending the speedster through with deft outside flick, and later smacked the woodwork himself from a free kick. (As seen in the brief highlights below.)

Nagoya Grampus
Koichi Hirono
Maya Yoshida, Milos Bajalica (Hayuma Tanaka 85), Takahiro Masukawa, Alex Santos (Shohei Abe 64)
Yoshizumi Ogawa (Tomohiro Tsuda 72), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Kei Yamaguchi 64), Igor Burzanovic
Keiji Tamada, Josh Kennedy
Scorer: Tamada 20

Albirex Niigata
Takashi Kitano
Jun Uchida, Mitsuru Chotanda, Mitsuru Nagata, Gilton
Isao Honma (Kengo Kawamata 85), Marcio Richardes, Takahiro Matsushita (Gotaku Sakai 72)
Kisho Yano, Hideo Oshima (Kazuhiko Chiba 65), Eduardo Santos

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Gamba Bank 7.5 Mil from Leandro

Local (Japanese) reports suggest that Gamba have reluctantly agreed to let misfit Brazilian Leandro go to Al Sadd in Qatar, for a cool one billion yen (about 7.5 million euros). A big transfer fee by J.League standards, but not elsewhere. Dutch minnows VVV Venlo are said to be asking 10 million euros for Keisuke Honda, and claim to have received offers that meet their valuation.

This should be more than enough to get an adequate replacement, although the European transfer window closes next Monday (August 31). They can put the change towards the cost of their new stadium. :-)

Other Views
tribalfootball: Gamba Osaka goal scorer Leandro signs with Al Sadd
tribalfootball (again): Pedro Junior joins Gamba Osaka from Albirex Niigata

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Narazaki Out with Broken Finger

Grampus and Japan custodian Seigo Narazaki is out for ten weeks with a broken metacarpal in his left hand, sustained in the clash with Shimohira towards the end of the Gamba game. This means he will miss several key J.League games for Nagoya including the clash with the Antlers, and the ACL 1/4-final clash with Frontale. It also means that he is likely to miss some of the Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong at the beginning of October.

Official Press Release (in Japanese)
Chunichi Shimbun (SchuSpo) article (also in Japanese)

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Hope Springs Eternal in Hokuriku

Nagoya surge to a 3-2 win, after trailing 0-2 at half time. Maki, Tamada and Magnum doing the damage in front of 18,000 fans. Good to see that many fans turn out in Kanazawa, many of whom were locals. It is good news for the league that so many people turned out for game far away from home on a Sunday evening.

As for the game itself, the good folks of Kanazawa got to see a cracker as Magnum scored a last-minute winner, thanks to another Matsuyo howler. The Gamba 'keeper must have relatives in Nagoya. This is the second time this year he has gifted us the three points.

Although the statistics may say that the number of shots was even and that we had the greater share of possession, Gamba had the better quality play for most of the game. The main difference between the first half and the second was that Grampus did a better job of closing down Gamba and given them less time to dwell on the ball. Meanwhile, Gamba paid the penalty for not getting that all important third goal, especially in the first half when they could, and should, have scored another couple of goals.

Ultimately, the result was down to the quality of the players between the posts. We had Narazaki, who made a couple of fine saves to keep us in the game, and Gamba had the hapless Matsuyo. Narazaki's injury early in extra time, after he fumbled an Endo shot, proved decisive. It was the treatment to his injured wrist that meant there were close to six minutes of extra time, rather than just the four originally indicated.

Gamba Osaka
Naoki Matsuyo
Akira Kaji (Kazumichi Takagi 84), Sota Nakazawa, Satoshi Yamaguchi, Takumi Shimohira
Hideo Hashimoto, Tomokazu Myojin, Yasuhiro Futagawa (Hayato Sasaki 66), Yasuhito Endo
Leandro, Lucas (Cho Jae Jin 84)
Scorers: Endo 14, Lucas 41

Nagoya Grampus
Seigo Narazaki
Maya Yoshida, Milos Bajalica, Takahiro Masukawa, Alex Santos (Shohei Abe 68)
Yoshizumi Ogawa (Tomohiro Tsuda 72), Naoshi Nakamura, Keiji Yoshimura (Yuki Maki HT), Magnum
Keiji Tamada, Igor Burzanovic
Scorers: Maki 72, Tamada 81, Magnum 90+5

No Josh! No hope?

Socceroo striker Josh Kennedy is rested today after feeling a twinge in a thigh muscle. Sounds like a good time for Igor open his goal scoring account for us, or we could be in trouble.

Venlo Earn Fourth Draw on the Trot

And yes, Keisuke Honda did it again. He scored the opening goal as VVV remain unbeaten this season.

Other Views
The English papers in Japan have finally started to notice that Honda is making a bit of a splash overseas.
Japan Times: Venlo's Honda scores fifth of season

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Kennedy & Tamada Strike to Lift Grampus

Resuming their promising partnership, both Josh and Keiji score as Nagoya rolled to a fairly comfortable 2-0 win over JEF United. The results lifts Grampus to 11th, nine points above the relegation zone, and leaves JEF six points off safety. The Chiba foxes will do well to escape the drop this year, especially as they no longer have Alex Miller in charge.

This match saw more shuffling of the Nagoya pack, with a back line consisting of Maya alongside Bajalica and Masukawa. This proved surprisingly effective, although JEF did not gave them a severe test. We also saw the return of the twin terriers, Keiji and Naoshi, to give some bite in defensive midfield. This indicates that Stojkovic is flexible in his approach and willing to adjust our formation to match the requirements of a game.

Josh Kennedy gave Grampus a well-deserved 1-0 lead at half time, although he was somewhat lucky to see the rebound from his initial effort creep over the line after ricocheting back of his shins. However, he had already seen one good shot on goal saved by the JEF 'keeper and come close with a header. Our new Montenegrin signing, Burzanovic, also had a happier time, looking more at ease in this game and coming close to opening his goal-scoring account. Unfortunately, an extra touch as he advanced on goal gave the keeper that extra bit of time needed to make a save. He is still struggling to adapt to Japan, and the team, but again showed promise of better things to come.

The second half saw JEF make more of a game of it, but rarely had the sharpness or accuracy to disturb Narazaki. Tamada added the second midway through the second half, a low stooping header from a Ogawa cross, after Yoshimura and Santos had seen earlier efforts come to nought.

This was a much better performance by the team and saw them regain the shape and determination that was missing against Kawasaki. Gamba will pose a much tougher test this weekend, and will give us a better indication of our chances of making it into the top half of the table.

JEF United
Ryo Kushino
Masataka Sakamoto, Shohei Ikeda, Yohei Fukumoto, Ryota Aoki (Michael 83)
Tomi Shimomura, Masaki Chugo, Masaki Fukai (Ota 66), Kohei Kudo, Tatsuya Yazzawa (Tatsunori Arai 78)
Seiichiro Maki

Seigo Narazaki
Milos Bajalica, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa
Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi 76), Keiji Yoshimura,
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Igor Burzanovic, Alex Santos (Shohei Abe 81)
Keiji Tamada, Joshua Kennedy (Yuki Maki 89)
Scorers: Kennedy 24, Tamada 75

Other Views
Japan Times: Kennedy, Tamada score as Nagoya ends two-game skid
TribalFootball Australia: Kennedy again on target for Nagoya Grampus

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Vissel Upset Kashima

Alan over at JSoccer.Com gives us a running commentary on Vissel's annihilation of the Antlers. (He also covers Gamba's win over Albirex on the site):

Vissel began the 2nd game of coach Miura's reign, with a stern task against runaway J1 leaders Kashima Antlers on a hot muggy August night, in a 4-4-2 formation. Enomoto in goal, and a back four of - from left to right - Kondo, Kitamoto, Komoto and Matsuoka. A double volante combination of Miyamoto and Kim gave Botti and Koga the freedom of the wings, and Okubo and Mogi were up front.

Miyamoto shook the hand of Ogasawara and Vissel captain Tsune won the toss and changed ends, possibly an interesting ploy to have the Antlers attacking the Vissel end in the 2nd half? Who knows? But the game kicked off and Iwamasa was immediately in trouble, mis-kicking a clearance which gave Vissel a throw-in, quickly taken, not cleared by Oiwa - the 2nd mistake by an Antlers defender already - and Okubo pounced on the ricocheting ball and it was 1-0 within 30 seconds!!

Early pressure in midfield was causing passes to go astray for Antlers and Kim was soon on target with another chance from long range. In the 8th minute Nozawa went down all too easily from a Miyamoto challenge 20 yards out but the free kick was straight into the wall. By this time, referee Mr. Okutani was already laying down the law at throw-ins in his usual over-fussy fashion and we hoped he wouldn't be dishing out the yellow cards too soon!

In the 16th minute, just after a well-deserved yellow for Ogasawara - over the ball on Kim - Okubo and Mogi combined well to shred the defence and a long ball to Koga was just too long, but he saved the move and found Botti, who skipped past two defenders and crossed for Okubo to hit it just over from 12 yards out. Antlers were on the back foot and Araiba and Uchida, probably two of the best attacking full backs in the country were reduced to being spectators.

In the 19th minute the away defence was left for dead again as Okubo and Mogi got behind them but the Vissel forwards were thwarted by a lucky block, then Koga crossed it back in for Okubo to head just over the bar. Seconds later Okubo put the ball past two defenders on the left and his cross gave Sogohata problems under his bar.

Vissel were toying with Kashima at times, looking so confident, but needed to translate the possession and chances into goals before half time, as a blast from the coach for the pathetic Antlers could well change things.

The 24th minute saw Danilo wriggle through a couple of defenders before a blatant dive in the box when he could well have carried on with a shot. The closest Kashima had come to causing any problem so far.

26 minutes and a one-two saw Okubo wide open on the right wing and he pulled back a pass to Kim for a shot from the edge which was blocked. The most telling thing in this move was that both Okubo and Kim had found themselves wide open 20 yards from goal. A minute later and Botti, Kim and Okubo pressured the Antlers defence in the corner and came out with the ball. Okubo's lob found Mogi wide open and his volley hit the side netting. The fact that the assistant referee had raised his flag not excusing the fact that another unmarked Vissel forward had found space. The home fans could smell blood!

In the 35th minute, Uchida had a go from 35 yards, showing how desperate Antlers were becoming, and the long clearance found Mogi on the right wing and Antlers were on the back fo yet again. He turned his defender cut to the outside and his shot had Sogohata beaten with ease but Mogi saw his shot sail inches wide of the post.

In the 37th minute, out of nowhere - the sign of a champion, perhaps - Osako received the ball and crossed for Danilo finding a little space, and his header hit the bar, although Enomoto had it covered. Perhaps a little danger would solidify the Vissel reserve!

Antlers started to look a little more creative towards the end of the 1st period as Vissel tired of the constant pressing and their attacking fluidity. The fans could only hope that the break was more productive for the home team than the away, or those missed chances would be regretted.

The teams took the field for the 2nd half with the same line-ups - both managers feeling that their half time talks had done the trick, perhaps! But it was Vissel who began as they'd left off, with Kondo and Matsuoka doing the stuff that most were expecting of Uchida and Araiba. Kim and Miyamoto continued to seal up the middle, and Botti and Koga were spraying creative balls all over the park. Then, suddenly, there it was again - an Antlers corner and Aoki narrowly wide with a header - a half-chance from nothing reminding Vissel that they were up against the best. More danger, as Vissel tired? What would coach Miura do to make sure the concentration and energy stayed high?

54 minutes and Mogi was sent racing clear, Sogohata narrowly beating him to the ball on the edge of the area. By this time Antlers coach Oliveira had seen enough and tried to shuffle up things with the introduction of Tashiro for the ineffective Koroki up front.

In the 57th a long cross from Matsuoka found Mogi who headed down to Okubo, the return pass finding Mogi in space and his shot was blocked by three desperate defenders... seconds later, Matsuoka was inches wide of the post with a low shot across Sogohata.

In the 64th minute, after some sustained Antlers midfield possession, without effect, Okubo turned Aoki on the half way line and was taken out, the referee inexplicably waving no foul when a minimum yellow card was in order. Seconds later and Mogi was free on the right but his low cross was too quick for the chasing Vissel midfield. The game really was opening up now, too, with Antlers perhaps sensing that, if Vissel were not going to get a second goal they could commit more to attack. This could bring the goal they need or leave them open to the counter-attack, but Vissel were not taking the chances given to them so, maybe it was the thing to do?

67 minutes and, indeed, off came a centre back - Oiwa - and on came a midfielder - Nakata - and Antlers went a little more attack-minded. To counter this, or just for fresh legs, Vissel replaced Kondo with Kobayashi. For now, Kobayashi slipped in at right back but the option was now there for a flat three if needed.

With 16 minutes to go, Antlers boss Oliveira, seeing nothing to lose and little improvement on the field, replaced Osako with Sasaki as a good portion of the 17,432 crowd got behind Vissel for a rousing finish.

In the 79th minute Matsuoka weaved his way through four players in midfield and threaded a ball through to Okubo who raced towards goal and only blocked by a last ditch tackle from the only defender within 30 yards - both teams were now visibly tiring and we were in for a nail-biting finish for sure. Antlers were being limited to long hopeful balls towards four attackers, while Vissel were visibly slowing on their counter-attacks, but still going for it. With 8 minutes to go, Botti was replaced by Yoshida for the final holdout.

On the Vissel bench, all seemed calm, but the hearts of all must have been beating wildly as Antlers tried to get a point out of the game. Five minutes to go and the Vissel faithful had their hearts in their mouths as Ogasawara and Danilo lined up behind a free kick, but it was touched aside to Danilo and the Brazilian's shot went into the wall. Then Uchida robbed Okubo on the right and headed for the area to be brought down by the Vissel striker for a yellow card and another free kick. This one cleared by the desperate Vissel defence.... and the clock showed three minutes to go! The crowd got louder.... the Vissel players looked more determined, yet so tired and the seconds passed. Then a most bizarre event.... Sogohata came out of his area and caught the ball, pointing to the assistant referee who was flagging for offside. But the whistle had not sounded. The referee bottled his decision and gave the offside even though, technically the whistle had not been blown and Sogohata should have been walking to the shower!

And then.... three minutes of lost time were shown as the clock ticked past 90 minutes. The crowd got louder and the Vissel players tried to hold the ball and take some time.... a famous victory neared.... surely nothing could go wrong now?!

Sasaki and Matsuoka tussled for the ball on the Vissel left and the referee gave a foul to the Vissel player and the crescendo grew as more time was eaten up.... a Kashima corner was surely the last chance? Sogohata came up to the Vissel area but Araiba's header was wide and Okubo broke with the ball as the Antlers keeper rushed back.... but the whistle went before the Vissel striker had the chance to embarrass the Kashima custodian.

It was all over.... Vissel Kobe 1-0 Kashima Antlers... and there could be absolutely no complaint from the away team that Vissel did not deserve this victory!!

In the post-game press conference, Antlers coach had nothing to say and just waited for questions, and his answers to the two questions posed were short and sweet - he was visibly beaten!

Vissel coach Miura thanked the fans for coming out in such high numbers and stated he was more than happy with the way the tactics went although another goal would have helped!

So, all in all, a great day at the office for Vissel Kobe. A very welcome and well-deserved three points.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Honda Does It Again

Young Keisuke does it for the third week running, earning VVV a point with a spectacular long range blast.

Other Views Asians In Europe: Keisuke Honda Moves Up Another Gear

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Frontale Capitalize on Disorganized Grampus

As expected, Alex and Igor made their official debuts in this game, both finding their way into the starting lineup. Not surprisingly given two new players, and with Ogawa and Tamada playing in unfamiliar positions, Frontale looked the more settled team in the opening minutes. Indeed they got off to a flying start when Juninho pounced on a loose ball and caught Bajalica flat-footed as he surged forward to plant the ball past Narazaki.

Although Nagoya managed the occasional threat, it was Frontale that always looked the more purposeful going forward. Ogawa failed to impress in his new central role, and looked more comfortable in he second half when he returned a wider position. Magnum also looked out of sorts, but still should have done better than blaze over from close range just before the end of the half.

HT: 1-0 to Frontale

Grampus reorganized at half time, with Ogawa switching to a wider position and Burzanovic moving into the creative midfield role. This saw Nagoya mount more attacks as they pressed for a goal. However, a lack of coordination saw most moves break down, or flounder as Kennedy failed to receive accurate service. The Australian battled gamely and often proved a vital link in the buildup, but was given little space in the vital third of the pitch.

Inevitably, Frontale, always good on the break anyway, added a second when Juninho headed home the rebound after Narazaki had done well to block his initial shot. However, Nagoya continued to probe and create the occasional move, Maki being guilty of a bed miss from a free header, which he sent flashing wide after a good cross by Tsuda.

As for our new recruits, Kennedy had reasonably good game, despite some poor service, but failed to overcome an effective Kawasaki defense. Alex, as always, tended to try and do too much on his own, and poor Igor looked a bit lost and still needs a game or two to fit into the team. Alex, with his accurate crosses (when he actually gets the ball across) was a logical starter, but starting Burzanovic in a team trying an unfamiliar formation was foolish and raises questions about the managers judgement. I hope the young Montenegrin can settle quickly. Despite his struggle to make a contribution in this game, he showed promise and looked slightly more at home in the second half when playing a more creative role. If he can find his feet in Japan, he looks a very useful addition to the squad.

FT: 2-0

Seigo Narazaki
Akira Takeuchi (Yuki Maki 66), Maya Yoshida, Milos Bajalica, Alex Santos
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Igor Burzanovic, Naoshi Nakamura (Kei Yamaguchi 75), Magnum (Tomohiro Tsuda 75)
Keiji Tamada, Joshua Kennedy

Kawasaki Frontale
Eiji Kawashima
Yusuke Mori, Kosuke Kikuchi (Tomonobu Yokoyama 73), Hiroki Ito, Kazuhiro Murakami
Shuhei Terada, Hiroyuki Taniguvhi, Kengo Nakamura
Chong Tese, Juninho, Satoshi Yamagishi (Yusuke Tasaka 64)
Scorers: Juninho 11, 73

Friday, 14 August 2009

Pixie Half-term Report: Could do better!

When Dragan 'Pixie' Stojkovic took on the manger's job at Nagoya, he said it would take three years to build a team that could challenge for the title. We are half way there now. How is he and the team doing? Read on for the Grampalogue's view.

Overall, we feel he is doing a good job, but needs to learn from experience. This year has been a more difficult test than his debut season as a manger. Last year, almost everything went smoothly, with the team in with a chance of the title right up until the last game. However, this set unrealistic expectations for his second year. The team wasn't really good enough to finish as high as it did, and over achieved somewhat. This year, a mixture of injuries to a shallow squad, and mistakes by our still relatively inexperienced manager have seen the team falter after a good start to the season. The test over the second half will be how well the manger and the team take these lessons to heart.

Although the manager was positive about the start of the season, despite the lack of depth to the squad, he has moved quickly to correct things once that lack of depth was exposed. Davi and Tanaka were good editions, but we started with three less players than last year. Davi also failed to fit in with the team concept and gradually became a bad influence on the team. His jump to richer hunting grounds was a blessing in disguise. The addition of Igor Burzanovic and Alex Santos gives us much more depth and bite in midfield. It also gives us a lot more flexibility since both can play several positions.

The main criticisms have to be over his team selections and substitutions. Stojkovic has proven reluctant to give some of our promising youngsters a chance, even though the team has drifted out contention for the title. Masaya Sato proved he could adapt when thrown into the staring lineup against Urawa, and probably needs to start rather than coming on as a sub. It is difficult for even experienced defenders to adjust to the pace of a game when coming on towards the end, let alone a raw 19-year old. It would also have been nice to see the likes of Shinta Fukushima, who have shown promise when they were used, given more opportunities. If such players are not given a chance, then we are likely to become too dependent on transferred players whose commitment to the club may be questionable.

As for substitutions, this is proving to be Pixie's biggest weakness. He makes the occasional basic error in this department, Last year saw us lose a game late on when Magnum was substituted when we were defending a corner. You do not make substitutions when you are defending a corner unless a player is dying on his feet. The game against Oita saw a similar collapse as both Tamada and Kennedy were subbed, leaving Trinita free to pour players forward against a toothless opponent. I certainly hope Pixie learns from these mistakes and improves both the timing of substitutions and his choice of who to replace in the future.

Eredivisie Team Of The Week: Round 2

Keisuke Honda make the best eleven for the second week running. It remains to be seen, however, whether all the talk of interest from Liverpool is genuine, or just Honda and his agent talking up his chances of a lucrative transfer.

Eredivisie Team Of The Week: Round 2 -

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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Liverpool Tracking Japanese International Keisuke Honda

Liverpool Tracking Japanese International Keisuke Honda - Report -

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Looks like former Grampus star, Keisuke, could be joining a different Reds team soon. It would be a big loss, for VVV, but may be their best chance to get something close to the 10 mil euro they are said to be asking for Honda.

Not sure he worth that much yet, but he could easily be worth that to VVV. How much extra revenue and attention does a season or two in the top flight earn them?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Honda Strikes Again as VVV Remain Unbeaten

Keisuke Honda did it again this week. This time scoring both goals as VVV Venlo earn a draw against ADO Den Haag. The first a wel-taken shot, the second a clean header. This result leaves VVV unbeaten in mid-table. OK, so they only have two points, but they and Honda are off to a promising start back in the top flight.

VVV Venlo Vs. ADO Den Haag at

The only minus for VVV is that this is likely to hasten Honda's departure, since he is proving that he can make the grade at the top level, and then some. No surprise to those of us who have been following him since he was a rookie, he has always had the skill and vision to make a difference. Now he also seems to some maturity to go with it. For Honda, the success with VVV means that he afford to be choosy about the offers that come his way. There is no need to rush into a decision, if he is not convinced that it the right club. There is always the January transfer window, if the right offer does not come along now.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Igor and Alex Make Debuts in Win over S-Pulse

In a practice game versus Shimizu S-Pulse at Nihondaira Stadium, on Saturday, both our new signings made their debuts in a Grampus shirt. Although Nagoya emerged victorious from the encounter, this match was most interesting for what it told us about how the new recruits are likely to be used.

Alex (Santos) started the game at left back, but switched to midfield when Shohei Abe was introduced at half time. Meanwhile Igor Burzanovic, nominally a midfielder, was listed as a forward, with Keiji Tamada in midfield. In practice, however, both Tamada and Burzanovic played as attacking midfielders. Since it is our midfield that been our biggest weakness this year, this augers well for a more creative and attacking style for the rest of the season. (Although, whether this attacking lineup can prove as hardworking as last year's twin terriers (Nakamura and Yoshimura) remains to be seen.)) Santos' ability to play both side back and midfield may well prove useful as it will allow Pixie to change the pattern of play without having to use too many substitutes in doing so.

First Half Lineup
Koichi Hirono
Akira Takeuchi, Milos Bajalica, Maya Yoshida, Alex Santos
Keiji Tamada, Naoshi Nakamura, Yoshizumi Ogawa, Magnum
Igor Burzanovic, Joshua Kennedy

Second Half Lineup
Toru Hasegawa
Hayuma Tanaka, Milos Bajalica, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Tomohiro Tsuda, Keiji Yoshimura, Kei Yamaguchi, Alex Santos
Igor Burzanovic, Yuki Maki
Scorer: Tanaka 87

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Vissel Change Horses Again

Kobe have announced that they have appointed Toshiya Miura as their new manager. What was wrong with Wada, who had got the team playing a bit better, and who seemed to have the trust of the players. I hope Miura gets on with Yoshito, or Vissel could sink back into the relegation scrap.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Osaka to get TWO footy stadiums by 2011?

Honmakaina? Translation. I'll believe it when I see them.

Japanses media are reporting that both Osaka clubs, Gamba Osaka and Cerezo Osaka are planning on moving to new football only stadiums by 2011.

First, Gamba announced that they have started raising the 15,000,000,000 yen to finance a new 32,000 seater stadium in Expo '70 Commemorative Park (Banpaku). Let's hope they do not build it somewhere that is only served by the Osaka Monorail, which is one of the main problems with their existing stadium. Yomiuri article (i Japanese)

Then a week later, Cerezo announce that they will be converting the Nagai Athletic Ground into a football only stadium. This is also scheduled for 2011, and unlike Gamba they actually have concrete plans. It just means converting an existing facility and relaying some turf. However, the plan seems to be conditional on Cerezo winning promotion. NikkanSports artcile (Japanese)

Honda Off to Flying Start in Top Flight

Former Grampus midfield star, Keisuke Honda, gets off to a good start in the Dutch first division. He had and assist and scored a goal, as VVV Venlo came from 0-2 down to eventually earn a 3-3 draw with PSV. (Note that the title link will take you to a Japanese site (TimeWarp.JP), with photos of the game.)

PSV Vs. VVV Venlo at

Santos Signs for Grampus

Urawa Reds midfielder/side back Alex Santos, has signed an 18-month contract with Grampus. He seems to have been signed as a midfielder, which makes us wonder who will be dropped. It is the centre of the midfield that has struggled this year, so while Burzanovic should fit in easily, Santos may just deepen the bench. Still, the Forntale game on the 15th may well see both Burzanovic and Santos make their debut for the club.

Chunichi Sports article (Japanese)
Japan Times: Nagoya signs Santos from Urawa

Monday, 3 August 2009

Vissel Grab Three Vital Points

Peter again gives us the run down on Vissel. This time a vital 'six-pointer' clash at Kashiwa. (Shintaro Kano at the Gomiuri also has some words about this contest.)

Team: Enomoto; Kondou, Koumoto, Kitamoto, Matsuoka; Yoshito, Kim Nan-il, Miyamoto, Kouga; Botti, Mogi.

Lots of changes and experiment. Gakuto Kondou is a player who joined Vissel a couple of years ago after being a professional surfer in Aichi Prefecture. Matsuoka usually thought of as a forward midfielder at wide-back. Yoshito withdrawn to the midfield, Botti up front. Miyamoto still in midfield.

Reysol no.5, Kouga, carried off after falling awkwardly after a very high jump--replaced by no.2, Kamata. Soon afterwards, Yoshito gets a yellow card. 20 mins gone.

25 mins gone. Relegation battle. Pretty fiery. Kashiwa diving a lot, but seem to have a slight edge. Reysol really have a lot of Italian-type play actors. Make a fuss about anything.

At times Vissel seem to be playing 4-3-3 with Yoshito wide right and Botti in the centre of the front three; but Mogi too wandering all over the place.

Kouga just had a very long, very hopeful but very good shot saved by the goalie (34').

Reysol have the edge because they're closing down Vissel a bit faster than vice-versa; but a close game.

Vissel just had a let off--a terrific volley from a centre cleared the bar by about 1cm. (38')

Reysol Outani carried off after tackle on Kouga. Vissel corner, eventually cleared Now Kim Nan-il in trouble, carried off. Outani returns. 44'. Kim back 45' - 3 mins added.

Reysol just had a let off as Yoshito got in couldn't touch it first time and there followed a scramble, but Yoshito couldn't squeeze it in. Well blocked by a defender. (47')

Just before the whistle Kouga misses a sitter, hitting it into the ground and over the bar.

Nothing notable really worth adding. Nobody obviously dreadful or obviously good!

57' - Kouga out,

65' - after a fierce, accurate shot by Kim was deflected wide for a corner, Koumoto scored a good headed goal directfrom the corner.

Enomoto just made a good save from a volley. Corner headed over. 67'

Vissel now playing a lot of possession and seem to have the edge, but Reysol still occasionally dangerous. 73'

Miyamoto out, Alan Bahia in - 75' Sorry I missed who came on for Kouga, and it's Kusunose.

A Vissel guy down Immediately after Alan Bahia came on. OK.

Vissel playing a bit too defensively now, I think. Kondou carried off, but doesn't look too unhappy. Kondou is a feisty player.

Kondou out, Ishibitsu in. 84'

Yoshito won a free-kick but is now limping.

Mogi nearly got to a back pass. 89'

91' dangerous free-kick on edge of area given away by Mogi--over the top. Phew!

Yoshito limping.


A scrappy game, lacking in the finer points. Reysol had the edge in fire; Vissel, in class. Yoshito looked the classiest player on the pitch. Koumoto took his goal well. Gakuto didn't let the side down. Enomoto made one very important save, after Kitamoto failed to get in a block--but Kitamoto didn't look quite so bad against this level of opposition, or perhaps just had a better game.

In this game the result was the only thing that counted--and it was the right one!


Saturday, 1 August 2009

Late Collapse Gifts Trinita Three Points

Our new Aussie hero, 'Jesus' bagged his third league goal in a row, a neat shot on the turn in the six-yard box. However, Nagoya should already have been one goal to the good at that point; an unmarked Masukawa heading wide from three meters out. Tamada was also guilty of shooting wide form the edge of the box when he should have at least tested Nishikawa.

Grampus eventually took a deserved lead after 26 minutes, when Nakamura fired a ball into the box from the edge of the area. Kennedy neatly controlled the deflected shot and fired a low shot into the corner on the turn.

The rest of the match was fairly even, with neither team looking particularly like scoring. However, Trinita earn an unlikely three points with two last-gasp goals to steal the points. The first, a free header by Takamatsu three minutes into the four minutes of injury-time, was soon followed by a neat flick over the advancing Narazaki as Nagoya's concentration fell apart.

The loss is the first since Kennedy joined the team, and highlights the need for Burzanovic in midfield. The teams needs more threat from midfield, where only Ogawa and Magnum look like doing so. The game also highlighted the weakness in defense, which relies heavily on Maya Yoshida for leadership. He is a class player, and looks a potential national team candidate, but is still a few weeks short of his 21st birthday. He can be forgiven the occasional mistake and lapse of concentration. Unfortunately, Masukawa cannot blame lack of experience for his lapses in concentration. This is down to a simple lack of composure. It is hard to see why Stojkovic persists in starting him now that Bajalica is back with the team.

Oita Trinita
Shusaku Nishikawa
Yuki Fukuya (Keigo Higashi 86), Masato Morishiga, Taikai Uemoto, Edmilson
Mu Kanazaki, Taiki Takahasi, Yuki Kotegawa, Fernandinho
Akihiro Ienga (Daiki Takamatsu HT), Ueslei (Shusuke Tsubouchi 78)
Scorers: Takamatsu 90+3, Higashi 90+4

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Maya Yoshida, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Naoshi Nakamura, Kei Yamaguchi, Magnum (Keita Sugimoto 82)
Keiji Tamada (Keiji Yoshimura 73), Joshua Kennedy (Bajalica 87)
Scorer: Kennedy 26

Grampus Ready for Trip the Sand Pit

Nagoya are already for their away match at Oita's Kyushu Oil Dome Stadium. Manager Stojkovic has already told his players to take the state of "pitch" into consideration and avoid getting injured. Unlike Urawa's Marcus Tulio, who had to find out the hard way, despite the notoriety of the Trinita's shoddy sod.

Normally, I would be looking forward to us improving out goal difference against the bottom team, but will happy if our players simply emerge unscathed from the encounter.