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Monday, 21 December 2009

Tokyo Avalanche Buries Grampus Kids

OK. It wasn't that cold, and the snow was just a few brief flurries of sleet towards the end of an otherwise pleasant, but crisp afternoon. Unfortunately, the only crispness displayed on the pitch came from the Tokyo U-18s as the romped to a 7-1 victory. (Fortunately, our U-15s and U-12s are a bit more competitive. The U-12s recently won their national tournament, and the U-15s romped to a 6-0 win yesterday.)
23 Dec: It looks as though this result may be a case of FC Tokyo being very good, rather then Grampus being particularly weak. The Gas Boyz romped to a 5-1 win over Gamba Youth in their semi-final.

As for the game itself, a fairly even opening few minutes revealed that not much has changed since Maya Yoshida and company lost to the same opponents four years ago. Grampus looked organized, and tried to pass the ball more effectively than their predecessors, but the Tokyo U-18s were sharper and more direct. Nagoya custodian Furukawa had already been forced into a good save early on before the Tokyo-ites took the lead with a soft looping header from Shigematsu after 17 minutes. They then added two more before the break, a another header (this time by Yamaguchi) and a somewhat dubious penalty converted by Shigematsu. Nagoya meanwhile struggled to create chances, and the defence looked increasingly fragile. In addition to the three goals they scored, Tokyo had seen one good effort slip the wrong side of a post and two more smack the bar.

The second half stared with a flurry of goals, as Umenai extended Tokyo's lead before a brilliant piece of work by Takehara on the left saw him cut along the goal line and score from an impossible angle. (He has also had one dangerous dribble in the first half.) Tokyo then got another even more questionable penalty after Kishi had made a successful challenge that got the ball, but also allowed the forward to go down under the challenge. Not only did the inexperienced ref give the PK, but to add insult to injury Kishi was sent for an early shower. The 10 men were then overwhelmed with three goals over the next three minutes (including the converted PK) before adding an own goal later in the half to complete a miserable afternoon for the team.

A rare foray forward by the Grampus U-18s

This game exposed the vast variation in the level of teams at the U-18 level. Nagoya had progressed to this stage by virtue of their ability to romp equally emphatic victories over the other teams in their qualifying group more effectively than the Kyoto Sanga U-18s. The two games between the Sanga U-18s and Grampus U-18s had been split with each wining by the odd goal. Clearly, Grampus have to find a way to give their youth team some more competitive practice games if they are to raise their game so that they will be able to compete for a title at this level.

FC Tokyo U-18
Che (1)
Hiroki (4), Hiraide (6), Matsufuji (26), Abe (3)
Mita (14), Yamazaki (18), Toshimori (8), Umenai (11)
Shigematsu (10), Yamaguchi (9)
Scorers: Shigematsu 17, 43, Yamaguchi 27, Umenai 48, 65, Mita 65, OG 72
Substitutions: Hoshi for Yamaguchi 50, Sasaki for Toshimori 64, Maeoka for Shigematsu 64, Muto for Mita 68, Kakuda for Umanai 78

Nagoya Grampus U-18
Furukawa (16)
Iwata (2), Kishi (4), Okuyama (19), Andou (8)
(5), Mizuno (27), Obata (9), Miura (6)
Yada (10), Takahara (21)
Scorer: Takahara 49
Substitutions: Onishi for Miura 61, Kawaamoto for Ando 65, Kato for Takahara 82.

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