Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Keita Lands in Tokushima

To no-one's surprise, Sugimoto joins Tomohiro Tsuda at Tokushima Vortis for next year. Tsuda is still on loan, but Vortis will have a couple of rapid whirlpools for at least one season. Let's hope it is enough to sweep them into J1.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Football Japan name Asian Cup squad - Channel NewsAsia

Zaccheroni names former Grampus stars Keisuke Honda and Maya Yoshida in his final squad of 23 for the upcoming Asian Cup. So the only current Grampus player who may make the trip to Qatar is Josh Kennedy, who could miss it if his back does not respond to treatment in time.
Football Japan name Asian Cup squad - Channel NewsAsia

Countdown to Emperor's Cup Clash

Merry Christmas to you all!

It is now only a few hours to the Emperor's Cup quarter-final game against Kashima.
It will be interesting to see who plays. Tulio, Josh Kennedy, Danilson and Magnum will all be absent, so it will be a good test of our depth, especially if we come away from Kashima Stadium with another win. Time for some Christmas firecrackers from Mu Kanazaki and Keiji Tamada, me thinks.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Vortis' Bae Seung Jin Out for 6 Months

Tokushima Vortis have lost their influential Korean defender for 5-6 months. Seung Jin had an operation on the persistent dislocated shoulder injury that had troubled him over the latter half of the season and will miss the early part of next season.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Grampus Extend Danilson Loan (No Transfer Yet)

Nagoya have announced that they have extended the loan of Columbian midfielder Danilson from Consadole Sapporo. The two clubs may well have worked out a full transfer had it not been for a broken foot that sees Dani fly back to Columbia for treatment later this week.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Grampus Win Race to Sign Nagai

Nagoya have announced the signing of Japan U-21 striker, and Golden Boot winner at the recent Asian Games, Kensuke Nagai. He will join the team from next season, after having played for Vissel this year despite still being at university. (The league allows exceptional players at university to train and occasionally play with a pro team.) This us a good start to strengthening the attack for next year.

Vissel Axe Four

Vissel logo
Vissel Kobe have also announced the list of players who they will not be resigning next year.

They are: GK Tatsuya Enomoto; DFs Teruaki Kobayashi and Daisuke Tomita; and FW Kazuki Ganaha.

Grampus Cut Magnum & Keita

Nagoya have announced that they will not be renewing the contracts of Magnum and Keita Sugimoto. No real surprise about either. Magnum has dodgy hamstring and Keita is fast, but not quite skilful enough for J1. Sugimoto would be great signing for a J2 team or as a super-sub for J1 team.

Since we have the ACL next year, I assume we will be keeping everyone else and adding some depth, especially in the forward area. After Josh and Tamada, we are getting pretty thin.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch.

Location:Newton Square,West Bromwich,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Japan News Another Source

For another source of Japan related news, apart from those listed in the left, try the Japan section of the World Cup Blog.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Narazaki J.League MVP

Grampus custodian Seigo Narazaki was officially selected as the League MVP at the J.League Awards last night. No surprise, since his fine performances in several games was vital to our title run. The League's official (3-5-2) Best Eleven is as shown below.

GK: Seigo Narazaki (Grampus)
DF: Tulio (Grampus)
DF: Takahiro Masukawa (Grampus)
DF: Tomoaki Makino (Sanfrecce)
MF: Kengo Nakamura (Frontale)
MF: Marcio Richardes (Albirex)
MF: Kengo Fujimoto (S-Pulse)
MF: Danilson (Grampus)
MF: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba)
FW: Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo)
FW: Josh Kennedy (Grampus)

At least Endo takes his rightful place in the eleven, although Ienga can feel a bit aggrieved that the overrated Kengo Nakamura despite Cerezo finishing 6 points ahead of Frontale. Personally, I think the j3PLUS eleven listed yesterday was a more thoughtful selection.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Grampus Dominate Best 11

As is only to be expected, Nagoya Grampus players dominate the J1 Best Eleven selected by the Japanese football column J3PLUS+. However, some of the choices come as a nice surprise. No players from Gamba or the Antlers.

GK: Seigo Narazaki
DF: Tomoaki Makino (Sanfrecce)
DF: Tulio
DF: Teruyuki Moniwa (Cerezo) Why did FC Tokyo let him go?
DF: Shohei Abe
MF: Danilson
MF: Yong Gi Ryang (Vegalta)
MF: Marcio Richardes (Albirex)
MF: Akihiro Ienaga (Cerazo)
FW: Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo)
FW: Josh Kennedy

Saturday, 4 December 2010

I Believe in Miracles...

Vissel logo
... you sexy things Kyoto. Thank you. Jay and Alan will be delirious for weeks.

For those who weren't glued to the results, maybe like me you were listening to Radio 4's TMS as we mangle the Aussies again, Kyoto eased past the Gasmen 2-0 to send them crashing into J1, and the Saitama Chokers collapsed again, allowing Vissel to romp to a 4-0 away win. I am sorry to see FC Tokyo go down, they are a better team than that, but rather them than Kobe.

Meanwhile, over at Toyota Stadium, Josh Kennedy bagged one of our two goals that saw us set a new record of 23 wins in a season, and finish joint top scorer for the season. Do he and Maeda get one golden boot each? :-)

Friday, 3 December 2010

FIFA 'picks' Qatar and Russia

FIFA, surprise, surprise, have opted to give the World Cup to Russia and Qatar. Choices that will do nothing to dispell the whiff of corruption and dirty deals at the heart FIFA decisions.

BBC: Russia & Qatar will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups

The Age: Claims of bribes ignored by FIFA

The Telegraph: The £66m 'bribe' shadow hanging over Fifa

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Nagoya Claim Tokai Derby

Having taken a week off on Tuesday, thus allowing the Tokyo Gasmen an easy win, the Grampus players were back to their best again today. The dominated possession in easing to a 2-1 win at Iwata to ensure the end the season having never lost back-to-back league games. First half goals by Ogawa and Tamada seeing them through despite a spirited fight back by the home team.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Dani to Miss Final Three Games

Colombian midfielder Danilson will miss the last few games of the season after tearing a hamstring in the game against Shonan on Saturday. He is expected to be out for a couple of weeks. The influential volanté will be missed, but veteran Keiji Yoshimura forms an effective twin terrier combination with Naoshi Nakamura and they will not give opponents much time to dwell on the ball.

While Danilson is a strong contender for MVP for the second half of the season, our official MVP (Tulio) may well make a return to action for this game.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Grampus Clinch Title

Nagoya duly clinched their first J1 league title. Tamada's 12th goal of the season, heading home a pin-point cross for Keita Sugimoto, sealing the victory against Shonan. Meanwhile, the spluttering Antlers were held to a goalless draw by Kobe.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPod touch

Sunday Update

Here are few links to stories about this historic victory and Pixie's eclipsing of Arsenal Wenger as the best manager at the club. (No doubt the Gomiuri will catch up eventually.)

Japan Times: Grampus beat Bellmare, win first J. League title

ESPN: Nagoya Grampus win first title

AFC: Nagoya win J-League

Asahi News: Grampus win it all

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Japan Times Still Hoping Hope against Hope

Andy McKirdy over at the Japan Times is still hoping for a close finish to this year's title chase. We will see what Vissel have to say about that. :-)

JapanTimes: Still work to do before Grampus lay hands on title

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Young Grampi Advance to Emperor's Cup 1/4 Finals

The Grampus youngsters manage something their senior colleagues could not this year. A win over Albirex Niigata.
OK, they needed penalties after extra time to do so, but they eventually emerged victorious and players like Genta Matsuo and Tatsuya Arai will have gained invaluable experience and confidence. This was a hard earned win, which saw Niigata comeback from an Alex Santos early goal to force the game into penalties after 120 minutes.

Grampus Lineup
Yoshinari Takagi
Genta Matsuo, Mitsuru Chiyotanda (Tastuya Arai HT), Akira, Takeuchi, Alex Santos
Sho Hanai, Keiji Yoshimura (Ryota Isomura 63'), Taishi Taguchi
Keita Sugimoto (Hikaru Kuba 63'), Yuki Maki, Koji Hashimoto

Read Akiko Ito's usual excellent article in the Chunichi Sports here. (Japanese)

Grampus to Give Youngsters Chance in Emperor's Cup

Nagoya Grampus are expected to field a changed lineup for today's game against Niigata. Expect to see the likes of Sho Hanai and Taishi Taguchi get another chance for some competitive action. Of course, we are also likely to see Keiji Yoshimura back in action after his lengthy (5-month) injury layoff, so it should be a nicely balanced blend of youth and experience.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Igor Out for Six Months

Grampus midfielder Igor Burzanovic, one of our heroes on Saturday, is expected to be out for six months. He pulled lame about 30 minutes into Saturday's contest, and has been diagnosed with ligament damage. He was hobbling around on crutches after the game, and seemed reasonably relaxed, chatting to Ardija's Matto and waving to the crowd.

He is very disappointed to be ruled out for so long, and we wish him a speedy rehabilitation.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Grampus Close-in on Title

Even without the suspended Josh Kennedy and rested Tulio, Nagoya had too much height and power for Omiya to handle. The 1.8 m Burzanovic and 1.9 m Masukawa providing the goals that sank the visitors, although Igor's goal was a tap in from from a corner. The Orange brigade's cause was not helped by the expulsion of Ho shortly before half time.

The win sees us go to Shonan, to face the hapless Bellmare, with our eight point lead intact, and a chance to wrap up the title with three games to spare. Our biggest danger will be complacency against a team desperate to regain some pride.
Grampus Lineup
Hayuma, Chiyotanda, Masukawa, Abe
Naoshi (Alex 69'), Danilson, Burzanovic (Maki 33')
Ogawa, Tamada, Magnum (Sugimoto 84')

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Marquinhos Keeps Antlers in the Hunt

A 59th minute strike by their Brazilian forward sees Kashima earn a narrow 1-0 win and keep their faint hopes of a fourth straight title alive. Meanwhile, we still enjoy an eight point lead at the top, but now may have to wait a couple of weeks before being able to claim our first league title.

Japan Times: Antlers revive slim title hopes with win over Grampus

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Maya Impresses in VVV Victory

Maya Yoshida made his second appearance for VVV in their 4-1 win over Willem II on Friday. He only came on as a second half sub, but seems to have impressed in his brief appearance, earning the highest rating of the VVV players. (At least, I think that's what the ratings on the left of the Limburger site means. )

Limburger.NL: Van Dijk begint met zelfde elf tegen Willem II (Dutch only)

Monday, 1 November 2010

Maya Finally Makes VVV Debut

Former Grampus defender Maya Yoshida, transferred to VVV Venlo last year, finally makes his debut for the club. His debut was delayed by a broken foot suffered in training shortly after his transfer in January. He had been training with Nagoya Grampus over the summer, so he should soon be back to full match sharpness. Looks like he needs to get up to speed PDQ. :-)

Mainichi Daily News: Yoshida makes debut but Venlo crash to 5-3 defeat

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Grampus Open Up 11-point Gap

Both Gamba and the Antlers lost this weekend (Ganba 2-4 Vissl, Albirex 2-1 Antlers), meaning that we now enjoy an eleven point lead at the top. This gives us effectively a four game cushion with six games to go. A win next week at Kashima would all but mathematically rule out Kashima from any chance of the title, and means that all the pressure will be on them to keep things 'interesting' for at least another week.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

No Tulio. No Mu. No Chance...

... for Cerezo Osaka.
We still had Josh fit and that was enough as the lanky Aussie converted a first half penalty to give us all three points. The visitors has the edge in possession (51-49%) and 'shots' (18-10), but failed to make it count. Another game gone, and we still have at least an eight point lead at the top. Now it is up to Gamba and the Antlers to show they can also live with the pressure and maintain their challenge.

Grampus Lineup
Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Mitsuru, Chiyotanda, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura (Akira Takeuchi 88’), Danilson, Magnum, Yoshizumi Ogawa (Igor Burzanovic 79’)
Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 65’)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Grampus Eke Out Another Three Points

Despite being outshot 15-11 by a home team desperate for some points, Grampus emerge from Home's Stadium Kobe with all three points. First half goals from Tamada and Danilson proving enough to ensure the 2-1 win and means they will end the weekend with at least their existing eight-point lead at the top of the standings.

There are seven games left of the season, but the next two against Cerezo then the Antlers are likely to decide whether we get another nail-biting end to the season or an early victory parade in Nagoya.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Danilson, Magnum (Keita Sugimoto 66’), Mu Kanazaki (Igor Burzanovic 59’)
Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Mitsuru Chiyotanda 85’)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Complacent Grampus Crash at Niigata (Again)

We may may broken our Kashima Satadium hoodoo, but Niigata Stadium till has us firmly in its grip it seems, A promising first half, that saw us have much the better if the game, ended with the home team go in 2-1 up after making the best of their few chances. The second half saw them extend their lead to 4-1 after Noashi Nakamura was dismissed early in the half for a second bookable offense.

Grampus Linup
Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura, Danilson, Magnum (Alex Santos 66'), Mu Kanazaki (Yoshizumi Ogawa 66')
Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Igor Burzanovic 78')

Monday, 11 October 2010

Nagoya Ease into Emperors's Cup 4th Round

A significantly changed team proves too much for J2's Sapporo and eased into the next round of the Emperor's Cup on Saturday. Second half goals from Nakamura and Hanai in the 62st and 88th minutes, overturning Consadole's 51st minute strike. Although the defence and midfield was stacked with fairly familiar or experienced faces, the front three saw several youngsters given a chance to prove themselves.

THis game was most notable for us giving our players nursing injuries a game off. Neither Takahiro Masukawa or Danilson even made the bench, despite playing hurt against Vegalta in the previous game. Pxie's gamble on youth paying off when Sho Hanai fired home the winner a couple of minutes from time. With the demise of the Satellite League this year, the youngsters need to make the most of these few opportunities to impress the manager in a competitive game.

Next up? Go on, take a wild guess. Or look at who we are playing next in the league. :-)

Grampus Lineup
                        Yoshinari Takagi
Hayuma Tanaka, Mitsuru Chiyotanda, Akira Takeuchi, Alex Santos
Yoshizumi Ogawa, Naoshi Nakamurs, Magnum (Taishi Taguchi 90')
Keita Sugimoto, Keiji Tamada (Yuki Maki HT), Koji Hashimoto (Sho Hanai 68')

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Zaccheroni Off to Flying Start

The Japan national team maintained the positive momentum they built up during the World Cup to record a win over traditional powerhouse Argentina. Whether this proves to be good for the Italian, remains to be seen. It is likely to lead to unrealistic expectations in some quarters.

Fielding a starting lineup that rested hurting Grampus stalwart Tulio, the team proved that it is still able to defend even without either Yuji Nakazawa or Tulio at the heart of the back line. An impressive team display saw them limit Messi, Tevez and Co., to a handful of half chances, with Kawashima only called into serious action to save a free kick.

Even the Argie highlights struggle to find clear chances for their team.
Japan Lineup

Eiji Kwasahima (Shusaku Nishikawa 85')
Yuto Nagatomo, Yuzo Kurihara, Yasuyuki Konno, Atsuto Uchida
Shinji Kagawa (Kengo Nakamura 77'), Yasuhito Endo (Yuki Abe 71'), Makoto Hasegawa, Keisuke Honda
Shinji Okazaki (Kunimitsu Sekiguchi 71'), Takayuki Morimoto (Ryoichi Maeda 65')
Other Views
Japan Times: Zaccheroni records win in Japan debut
Asahi Shimbun: Zaccheroni Japan impressive

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Grampus Ease Past Sendai 2-1

Well the The Rising Sun's pet theory of a J.League conspiracy to ensure tight finishes lasted for 45 minutes today. Then Pixy got to gee up the team at half time. Not quite the five goal mauling we gave Shimuzu, last week, but it's another game gone and we still have a seven point lead at the top. Can Gamba reduce that to five later today? Maybe not.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura, Danilson, Magnum (Yoshizumi Ogawa 76’), Mu Kanazaki (Alex Santos 87’)
Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Mitsuru Chiyotanda 82’)
Scorers: Josh 57', Yoshizumi 88'

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Grampus Regain 7 Point Lead

A crushing 5-1 away win at Shimizu sees us restore our seven point lead at the top of the league. A goalless first half in which the home team probably had the better of the game, was followed by their total collapse in the second.

I don't know what Pixie said to the lads at half time, but it clearly did the trick. A Tamada hat-trick and a brace from Josh Kennedy more than making up for their recent dry spell.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Grampus Extend Lead

With their challengers faltering at every turn, Nagoya extend their lead at the top to seven points. An early Tamada strike proving enough to earn three points in Yamagata. With our experience of a couple of years ago behind us, this may be an unassailable lead.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Grampus Go Five Points Clear

In a week that saw his tactical acumen exposed as still lacking that of a great manager, Pixie proves he has motivational skills are more than up to the job. The team bouncing back from the 0-4 debacle in midweek, to win 3-1 over one of the best teams in the league.

As Shimizu and Kashima stumble again, we earn a comfortable win over Gamba to move five points ahead of Cerezo Osaka, who are now in second place, ahead of the faltering Antlers and S-Pulse on goal difference. Goals from Nakamura, Danilson and Kennedy sinking the blue half of Osaka.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Akira Takeuchi , Tulio, Shohei Abe
Danilson, Naoshi Nakamura (Alex Santos 86), Yoshizumi Ogawa (Keita Sugimoto 83’), Magnum
Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Igor Burzanovic 73)

Friday, 20 August 2010

Premier League Sinking in Red Ink

The headlines say it all, as greedy bankers capitalize on the league's incompetence.

Manchester United owners hit by debt payment riseLiverpool Debt Worsens as Anfield Club Posts Huge £54.9m Yearly LossGlazers fail to pay mortgage on four shopping malls

Pixie Found Wanting Again

Following in the footsteps of another talented player, but unproven manager (Argentina's Maradona), Grampus manager Pixie Stojkovic was again outwitted by the manager of one of the leading J1 clubs. This time, Frontale romping to a 4-0 win to tighten the title race to a race between five teams separated by only five points.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka (Akira Takeuchi 90+2’), Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Danilson (Naoshi Nakamura 58’), Igor Burzanovic (Yoshizumi Ogawa 63’), Magnum (Alex Santos 67)
Mu Kanazaki, Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada

For once, we got off to the better start. We had the better of the opening 30 minutes, with Tulio having a good early chance. However, despite this and a couple of good chances for Tamada midway through the half, we failed to turn our superiority into any goals. Against a team like Frontale, that can be so potent on the break, this was always likely to be dangerous. This proved to be the case, as Kanazaki conceded a free kick with 10 minutes to go and the home team took full advantage with Vitor blasting home. The two teams then shared an equal portion of chances and possession for the remaining few minutes.

The home team continued to look the more likely to scores, despite us managing to hold our own in most areas of the field. Kanazaki had a couple of good chances to pull us level, but these were sandwiched by equally good opportunities for the home team. Vitor added a second after 20 minutes, after Kurotsu had done well to exploit some hesitation in our defence that allowed him to get to the byline and cut the ball back for the Brazilian. We then lost Masukawa to a second yellow, and as the heat and our lack of substitutes (all three were already on the field) took its toll, we were unable to cope with the speed of the Frontale attack. They duly added a couple of goals to pad their lead to a flattering four-goal margin.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Grampus Go Top

Nagoya climb to the top of the standings, as Shimizu lose and the Antlers draw. Goals from Tulio and brace for Keiji Tamada add to Urawa's woes with a comfortable 3-1 win.

For the third week running, an opponent failed to capitalise on us getting off to a slow start. Edmilson and Kashiwagi having early chances in the opening minutes, but failing to even test Narazaki. Tatsuya Tanaka also had an early chance in front of goal, but saw his chested effort easily scooped up by the Japan international. After this early flurry for the visitors, the game settled into a fairly even contest with most Urawa build-ups floundering on the solid rock of the now fully alert Masukawa and Tulio. Meanwhile, our own attacks, being fairly predictable crosses into Kennedy were easily countered. Midway through the half, however, Urawa again gained the edge briefly with Edmilson and Tanaka both stinging Narazaki’s fingers. Our first serious effort did not come until the 30th minute, when Kennedy did well to his a shot on the turn but the effort was deflected for a corner. The half then played out to fairly even stalemate as neither team was able to gain the advantage and ended 0-0.

We again improved dramatically in the second half, pressing far more effectively and gradually started to assert control. We started to add a bit of variety to our attack and occasionally try and play the ball through the middle. The space this created lead to the opening goal as a pinpoint Magnum cross picked out Tulio in the centre. The Brazilian-born defender powering home the header from close range. We almost added a second immediately after this, but both Josh and Mu failed to connect cleanly as the rocky Reds defence suffered a panic attack. We continued to probe dangerously, but failed to carve out another clear opening. Then from out of nowhere, Ugajin unleashed a thunderbolt from the just outside the corner of the box to pull the visitors level. Poor Tatsuya Tanaka then suffered another injury blow, unluckily having his arm dislocated as Danilson helped him to his feet after a challenge. So, midway though the half, the game was till evenly poised.

The next few minutes saw the teams exchange a few half-hearted attempts, but without Tanaka’s finesse Urawa never really looked convincing and soon fell decisively behind to a Tamada brace with five minutes. The first goal, saw the speedster pounce on the ricochet after Kennedy’s effort had been blocked. And although Yamagishi got a hand to the effort he was unable to keep it out. The second owed much to the hustle of Kanazaki as he stole into gain possession from some careless play at the back. A quick exchange with Kennedy released Tamada in the centre and he made no mistake form 10 meters. Josh should have added a fourth as the clock wound down, but having beautifully controlled an ALex pass and turned his defender, the Aussie stroked his curling shot the wrong side of the far post.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka (Akira Takeuchi 90+2’), Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Danilson, Igor Burzanovic (Yoshizumi Ogawa 71’), Magnum
Mu Kanazaki (Alex Santos 86), Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Grampus Sneak All Three Points at Ajinomoto

A late, late Tulio header from an Alex Santos cross sees Nagoya come away with the win against the Gasmen. A closely fought game, that could easily have ended 1-1 or 2-2 looked destined to end 0-0, until the Japan international sneaked in at the death. The win sees us rise to second, and the top three teams have now opened up a gap between themselves and the chasing pack.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Danilson, Igor Burzanovic (Yoshizumi Ogawa 68’), Magnum (Alex Santos 82)
Mu Kanazaki, Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Keita Sugimoto 78’)

As was the case last week, the home team got off to the better start but failed to take any of a handful of decent chances when they had the upper hand. The home team got off to a quick start, with Hanyu and Morishige trying their luck in the opening minutes. However, this also set the tone for the contest, in that the Tokyoites efforts failed to fine the target or were repelled by Narazaki. Indeed, apart from a couple of optimistic efforts by Danilson, it took us over 30 minutes to get an shot on target. Sota Hirayama, proving yet again that he is too unreliable a finisher, failing to score with a couple of good chances in the meantime. We had been outplayed and outshot 11-4, but we were still in the game.

A much more even half, with the honours looking set to be shared equally. However, Tulio popped up to nod home a dramatic winner. Although had a much better half, we were still outshot 20-10 As the half progressed, we had an early chance to snatch the lead, but Kennedy sent a free header sailing wide of the post. The two teams continued to spar, without seriously looking like scoring. Hirayama for Tokyo, and Kanazaki having the best of the chances. The next big chance fell, when Danilsonsent in a screamer of a free kick that Shiota did well to tip over. Ogawa put in an encouraging display after coming on midway through the half, and had a couple of good efforts on target but did not seriously test Shiota. And thus the stage was set for Tulio’s dramatic winner, four minutes into added time. A game we could easily have lost, ended in heart-breaking fashion for the home team.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Red Whales Ease Past Erratic Marinos (0-2)


A comfortable win that could have been even more comfortable had we been more ruthless when we looked like running rampant after Josh Kennedy bagged the opening goal. Still, that goal was against the run of play at that point and the final two goal margin flatters us slightly.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura (Igor Burzanovic 52), Danilson, Magnum
Mu Kanazaki (Yoshizumi Ogawa 77’), Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada (Mitsuru Chiyotanda 88’)

The Marinos got off to much the better start and looked the better teams for the first 20 minutes or so. Daisuke Tasaka and Shunsuke Nakamura both had great opportunities to open the scoring, but Tasaka skied his effort into the stands and Nakamura was denied by Narazaki. Fortunately, despite these chances they failed to score during this period and once we went ahead in the 37th minute, they were in danger of collapsing and finding themselves out of the contest by half time. However, it was then our turn to waste some good chances and the half eventually ended with us leading by solitary goal.

Kennedy’s goal itself, saw the Auusie striker pounce on a loose ball after some sloppy play in defence by the Marinos, and Yuji Nakazawa’s challenge as the Aussie shaped to send a curling shot into the top corner meant that the ball spun the other side of the wrong-footed keeper. We then proceeded to run rampant over the final minutes of the half, with Magnum and Mu Kanazaki both spurning excellent opportunities to add to our lead.

HT: 1-0 to Grampus

We were forced into an early substitution in the second when Igor Burzanovic came on for Naoshi Nakamuri, who pulled a thigh muscle in an early challenge. Tis seemed to disrupt our rhythm, and the game degenerated into some scrappy play for the next few minutes with neither team able to establish control. Danilson scored for the second game in a row to make it 2-0. A wicked deflection helping ensure that the Columbian’s shot beat Iikura in the Marinos goal.

The Marinos again started to look the more likely team to score as we started to tire in the heat. Watanabe found himself free in box, but hit a difficult chance past Narazaki’s far post. The Japan goalie was eventually forced into another good save, when a typically curling Shunsuke Nakamura free kick saw him tip away the ball as it headed fro the top corner.. In the dying minutes, reserve goalies Yoshiari Takagi was sent off without ever coming off the bench. Danilson was noticeably hobbling at the end after a clash with Kurihara had seen both players earn yellow cards. However, it looks like he recover in time for next game.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Okada; 10th Best Manager in the World?

Move over Fabio, time to let someone else try their hand at the England job. Japan manager, Takeshi Okada, may soon be available as he has said that he will quit the Japan job now that the World Cup has finished. He at least has been named as one of the more successful at the World Cup.
See ZonalMarking's article here.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Grampus Struggle to Bury Bellmare


A comfortable win that should have been won by a far more convincing scoreline. We still need to improve our ability to close out games. There was no need for the tense final ten minutes we had to endure at the end.

First Half

Grampus got off to a promising start and Mu Kanazaki was soon testing the visitors defence with his speed. Kennedy had an early chance, when put through by a long clearance from Abe, but failed to take full advantage. Tamada had already seen one good header fail to find the mark, when Maukawa and Tulio combined to give us a well deserved lead. Danilson sent into a ball into the middle, which Masukawa flicked on for Tulio nod home after 17 minutes. Tamada, Tulio and Magnum all had chances to add to our lead, but could not find the composure to make their chances count. Meanwhile, the visitors were restricted to a the occasional break, but apart from one Sakamoto shot, bid not trouble Narazaki.

Second Half

Our failure to convert our level of possession and control into more goals, saw the visitors increase their belief that they may be able to get something out of the game and Bellmare made this half a bit more of an even contest. However, we again got off to the better start, and Kanazaki and Danilson both had decent efforts early on. Danilson finally gave us the second goal, midway through the half, with an accurate daisy-cutter from 30 meters. 2-0 and it looked like we would coast to a comfortable win that would boost our goal difference. However, shortly after this Stojkovic brought on Ogawa and Burzanovic for Magnum and Kanazaki, and this disrupted our rhythm and allowed the visitors to gain a foothold in a game that was slipping away from them. The spent the final 15 minutes making a valiant effort to get back into the game and sub Tahara gave them hope with 10 minutes to go, firing in from abut 12 yards. However, we managed to keep them at bay and eventually ran out with the win we deserved.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura (Alex Santos HT), Danilson, Magnum (Yoshizumi Ogawa 71’)
Mu Kanazaki (Igor Burzanovic 71’), Josh Kennedy, Keiji Tamada

Saturday, 24 July 2010

S-Pulse Escape Mizuho with a Point

A free-flowing game between the second and third placed teams ends in a 3-3 stalemate. And why? All because Grampus manager Pixy Stojkovic foolishly watched Keiji Tamada blast a penalty over the bar. What was he thinking? He never watches penalties, and now we know why. :-)

We again got off to a good start, closing down Shimizu to deny them space, while gaining the upper hand ourselves. Having already sent one shot fizzing wide, Keiji Tamada gave us a deserved lead after only nine minutes, after a good build-up by Kennedy and Kanazaki. Shimizu gradually got into the game, but pulled level with a rather fortuitous goal. Former Grampus striker on hand to nod home from close range after a cross came back of the bar.

Kennedy header form pinpoint Kanazaki criss cleared off the line.Another Josh header from cross by Nakamura sails over. An Ono shot from corner of area comes back of inside of post and clear. Johnsen shot tipped round post by Narazaki. Okazaki diving header well saved by Nara form close-range, even if the effort would have been ruled out for offside Tamada restores the lead just before half time, getting the faintest of touches to a cross by Abe, but it is enough to divert the ball into the far corner.

HT: 2-1

Shimizu competed a bit more effectively in this half and managed to keep possession batter than they had in the first. Indeed they had the best early chance, as Okazaki out paced Tulio in a chase for the ball, forcing the Brazilian born defender to pull him back, earning a yellow card in the process. We then had a great opportunity to take a two-goal lead, when Masukawa was fouled in the Shimizu area. However, Tamada was a bit too casual as shipped the kick over the bar. He had a chance to make amends shortly after this, but his first touch after being put through the middle was too heavy and allowed the keeper to collect the ball.Okazaki pulled the visitors level again midway through the half, with a sharp curling drive that flew inside the far post.

Kanazaki restored the lead with a well taken goal after being released through the middle, cutting inside a defender and sending an accurately placed shot inside the far post. However, we again proved unable to maintain the lead as a couple of minutes later Eddy Bosnar rose unchallenged to head home the final goal of the encounter and earn the visitors a share of the points.

Highlights. First half only, sorry. But it was a cracking half.
Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura, Danilson, Magnum (Keita Sugimoto 74’)
Mu Kanazaki, Josh Kennedy (Yoshizumi Ogawa 51’), Keiji Tamada (Alex Santos 79’)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

10-Man Grampus Down Omiya


The J.League resumed yesterday, after a two month hiatus for the World Cup, and we carried on right where we left off. Josh Kennedy scoring the goal, and Igor Burzanovic looking out of sorts in midfield and heading for the showers after only 42 minutes. And of course, no Grampus win would be complete without some late heroics by Narazaki to preserve the clean sheet.

The Aussie striker proved he does not suffer from a Samson complex, after being shorn of his trademark blonde locks, by bagging the only goal of the contest. A diving header, under pressure, from a wicked cross by Tulio in the 76th minute. We had other chances to score early in the game, Josh seeing a header drift wide and Nakamura saw a god effort well saved by Kitano in the Omiya goal.

First Half

Nagoya got off to by far the batter start and soon had the home team on the back foot. A good pass from Abe to found Kanazaki running into space in the box, but the future Japan star failed to make the chance count. This was soon followed by another good ball out to Hayuma Tanaka and build up, but both Nakamura and Danilson hesitated when presented with space to shoot.

We eventually went close when a Kennedy glancing header was well-saved by Kitano in the Ardija goal. The Aussie was then prmptly fouled on edge of box for a dangerous-looking free kick. However, Igor Burzanovic blasted the effort straight into wall.

Meanwhile, Ardija were limited to lofted long balls over the top, without much accuracy, most looking pretty aimless and hopeful.

Less than a quarter of the game gone, and we were already looking comfortable and much the better team. However, at this point Burzanovic earned his first yellow card after clattering into Fujimoto. Nothing malicious but it was a clumsy challenge and he could not rally complain about the card.

Mu Kanazaki continued to look lively, and a break down left looked likely to result in danger for the home team, but a defender did well to stop him getting in a cross. Shortly after this, Josh Kennedy was released into space on the right edge of the box, but his angled shot across goal flashed inches wide.

Danilson was looking a bit more at home in the anchor role, and made one crucial block near the edge of box after tracking an Omiya build up and closing down as a player advanced to shoot. However, he also gifted Omiya their best chance of the half, being stripped of the ball in the centre circle, but the home team lacked the composure to take advantage.

Our best chance of the half came after Naoshi fired a shot at the keeper after being released into space by a deft pass from Magnum. The occasional Japan international should have done better with the effort, even though it forced a good save out of Kitano. Omiya's response? Raphael hit a tame shot at Narazaki after one of their rare good build ups. Narazaki was eventually forced to make a decent save, as he tipped an in-swinging shot over the bar.

The half drew to a close with us down to ten men, after another clumsy challenge saw Igor pick-up his second yellow of the day, a bit more dubious than the first, but neither the player or manager really protested.

Second Half

This was a much more even half, but Grampus still looked the more purposeful team despite being a man short. Omiya were a bit more deliberate in their build-up, but still too slow and failed to find a way through until the closing minutes when their one man advantage eventually began to show.

Columbian Danilson saw an early blast from 20 meters fly just over the bar. At the other end, Fuyaya scuffed a shot on the edge of box and the 'shot' was easily saved by Narazaki. The mercurial Magnum hit a dangerous ball into space behind the defence, but hit the pass just a bit too long for Abe to latch onto.

Kanazaki was released into space after good work in the centre circle by Kennedy, but again the youngster failed to make best use of the chance.
Nakamura then pounced on a rebound but his instant shot from 20 meters flashed the wrong side of the far post.

Omiya's Kanazawa saw a reasonable claim for a penalty waved away. True, Abe did not seem to make much contact, as the forward turned into his challenge, but it is the sort of challenge that can often result in a foul.

Shortly after this, Tulio won a challenge for a loose ball and whiped in a low cross into the heart of the Ardija box. Kennedy’s bravery and speed into the six yard area, saw him score with a diving header that gives Kitano no chance. We finally had the lead that our level of control warranted.

As the clock wound down, the home team finally started to look threatening. Narazaki punched a Watanabe effort from a sharp angle clear and Raphael blasted over from six yards with the goal at his mercy. Ishihara then saw a header from a corner flash just wide and Narazaki palmed over a Fukuya blast from point-blank range. The Japan keeper then punched another dangerous shot clear, before the referee finally called a halt to proceedings.

Next up, an enthralling clash at home against Shinji Ono's S-Pulse.

Seigo Narazaki
Hayuma Tanaka, Tulio, Takahiro Masukawa, Shohei Abe
Naoshi Nakamura (Mitsuru Chiyotanda 90+2’), Danilson, Igor Burzanovic
Mu Kanazaki (Yoshizumi Ogawa 69’), Josh Kennedy, Magnum (Keiji Tamada 75’)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Sanfrecce 0-5 Cerezo

JI is back and Cerezo hit the ground running, romping past the home team to give a vital boost to their confidence in their first game of the post Kagawa era. Peter Pakeman gives us the details:

It would be nice to think that this extraordinary result without Kagawa and Martinez, and also Omata, is a good omen for the Kagawaless future--and it certainly is! However, some reservation is in order as Hiroshima did their best to commit suicide: they were down to ten men for the whole of the second half, the score was 0-0 at half-time, and, after Ienaga had scored his first goal for the club, a beauty, in the 53rd minute, the momentum-creating second goal in the 73rd minute was an own goal from Nakajima due to a mistaken clearance in wet weather conditions. The tentative Cerezo were suddenly two goals up against ten men: "Jeepers! We're two goals up without Kagawa and Martinez--off we go!", the transformation in confidence was almost tangible.

Cerezo had gone to great lengths to obscure news about Martinez. There was no announcement on the Cerezo official site whether Martinez had returned from Brazil or not. In the re-edited team who's who, Martinez is still present, but we have absolutely no news about him at all. Neither the team nor the scorers were announced from the two practice games against Honda FC and Fagiano Okayama on July 8 (although the scores were put up); on the Honda FC site, the Honda team and scorers were announced, but there was zero news about Cerezo, and on the Fagiano Okayama site on the calendar for July 8 was the single word, "OFF!" (Yes, indeed, they were off to Osaka!):-)

In the event, Martinez did not play. On June 1 Hiroyuki Omata (R- LMF) during training damaged the triangular bone in his left foot and is out for about 2 months from that date. On May 22 Hiroshi Kiyotake (S - CMF, OMF) in a League Cup match injured a ligament in a joint in his right leg, which was forecast to take only three weeks to heal, and on June 17 Kenji Haneda (I/R - DF, DMF) after a check-up entered hospital for an unannounced reason and left hospital on June 22; in the practice matches on July 4, they played 45 minutes and 70 minutes respectively.

Culpi was reported as having been impressed by the 19-year-old Yusuke Maruhashi in training and he unexpectedly selected him at wide left in the back four (he played 90 minutes), keeping captain Haneda up in the midfield in place of Martinez, and keeping the front two of Adriano and Ienaga. (I had expected Ienaga to be moved back to the MF to replace Kagawa.)

Team 4-4-2: Kim; Takahashi, Moniwa, Uemoto, Maruhashi; Inui (Fujimoto 80), Amaral, Haneda, Kiyotake (Komatsu 73); Adriano (Bando 73), Ienaga. So it looks as though the 20-year-old Kiyotake will replace Kagawa, and Ienaga will continue to be one of the front two.


1 - Ienaga. We've criticized Ienaga in the past for being selfish and shooting when he should have passed, but he partly vindicated himself last night with a cracking 27-metre left-foot drive along the ground. (53)

2 - Nakajima's o.g. (73)

3 - Amaral. A cracking right-foot shot higher into the net from 14 metres. (78)

4 - Takahashi. A good header from 7 metres after a pinpoint cross from Ienaga. (82)

5 - Bando. Another cracking shot--this time a left-foot volley from 22 metres after a cross from Haneda.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Japan Eases into Knockout Stage

Japan eased to a surprisingly comfortable 3-1 win over Denmark to earn a Round of 16 matchup against Paraguay. Denmark, with no defence or midfield to speak of (and both Bendtner and Tomasson clearly not quite 100%), were no match for the Samurai Blue. The South Americans will be a tougher test, but are a team against whom Japan should have a good chance. It should be a fascinating game with both teams in with an equal chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.

Japan could easily have scored another couple of goals on top of the three they did manage. Kyoto native, Daisuke Matsui, was unlucky to see an early effort blocked by Danish keeper Sorensen, in one of his few good plays of the game. He certainly did not distinguish himself on either of the free kicks from which Japan scored the first two goals. Both were well taken, but greatly helped by poorly built wall and bad positioning by the keeper.

Manager Takeshi Okada will feel vindicated by the results so far, and we hope that the players can continue to play this well in the next game. In a tournament that has seen many of the big name teams struggle, his semi-final target may yet be achievable.

The results after the group games, see Japan lie joint sixth in the world rankings, alongside Spain.

13CAFIvory Coast311114
18AFCSouth Korea3111-14
20CAFSouth Africa3111-24
22OFCNew Zealand303003
32AFCNorth Korea3003-110

Monday, 21 June 2010

All Whites Grab Another Point

No doubts about this one, as they took an early lead and the Wops had to rely on dubious penalty for their equaliser. Two games gone and the Kiwis are level on points with Italy and in with a shout of making the knockout stage. (They are also level on points with England and Italy, and well ahead of Slovakia and France.)

The Guardian seems to have the best report of the game.
World Cup 2010: New Zealand hold defending champions Italy to a draw

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Wheels Wobbling on Pixy & Bosco Bus?

Three years after taking charge at Nagoya, the Serbian duo's lack of tactical nous and coaching experience is beginning to tell. Manager Stojkovic clearly has been able to inspire the team on occasions, and he is the only manager we have ever had who has been able to come away with points, let alone wins, from Kashima Stadium.

However, the simple tactics are not helping the team improve, and saw them crash out of the Nabisco Cup without a single win to their name. They managed three draws and lost to such powerhouses as Kyoto Sanga and Omiya Ardija. Anything less than a top three finish in the league this season is likely to see the pair depart at the end of their contracts. The club is unlikely to shell out another 100 million yen otherwise, unless it is to entice a successful manager like Arsene Wenger back.

A promising start, in which the team challenged for the top spot over the entire first season, has been followed by increasingly erratic and yet predictable displays. The manager and head coach clearly need a tall centre forward as part of their game plan or are completely lost for ideas. Even with the likes of Mu Kanazaki, Alex Santos and Yoshizumi Ogawa in the team, the Serbian duo are unable to come up with an affective alternative when Josh Kennedy is absent.

The failure to develop the youngsters in the squad, or even see an improvement in some of the other players, such as Shohei Abe and Ogawa, suggest that even their coaching skills are not what they should be. (Both players had already broken into the first team before the new regime took over.) Abe is clearly our best choice for the left wing back position, but despite the simple tactic of sending in crosses aimed at Johnsen or Kennedy, the coaching has failed to see any improvement in the accuracy of crosses coming in from Shohei. This is a shame, since he would otherwise be a national team candidate as his speed and covering at the back are certainly good enough to cope with most offenses. Indeed, the one-track tactics seems to be wasting the talent of Kanazaki, who is far more versatile than being a one-trick pony who can whip in accurate crosses into the centre.

It will certainly be interesting to see how things develop over the second half of the season. Can the manager and head coach come up with some new ideas, or will they rely on the same predictable pattern? The simple approach will certainly see the team finish in the top half of the table, but is likely to prove too easy for the top teams to counter, even though our opponents have long since abandoned their claims to be able to counter the arial power of Kennedy. What might make things more interesting, is to see if Stojkovic can team up with another coach. That might see the team improve and mount a serious challenge for the title, but might also see the pixy dust vanish into the air.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Football with Altitude

The New Scientist has an excellent article on the effects of altitude on football and footballers. Nothing too extreme in South Africa, but it certainly explains the problems players have been having with the ball.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Kiwi All Whites Now Ahead of Clueless Roos

A late header by defender Winston Reid seen the New Zealanders earn their first point ever in a World Cup. This puts the team ahead of their Antipodean rivals, who crashed 4-0 against Germany earlier.

Well done! All Whites draw 1-1 with Slovakia All Whites rescue valuable point

Friday, 28 May 2010

Bloggers Comment on Oka-chan's Squad

A few bloggers in Kansai were quizzed by the Japan Times about their views on Okada's pick fro the upcoming World Cup. Read all about it here.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Grampus Also Rans Still Struggling

Nagoya's second stringers struggle to a home draw against basement dwellers Cerezo in yesterday's Nabisco Cup qualifying game. This means the team is still winless, and looking increasingly aimless, since the departure of our four internationals. This lack of competitiveness by the reserves could be partly due to the league's decision to scrap the Satellite League, but also suggests that Stojkovic does not have his mentor's ability to deveop young players.

A first half goal by Maki was cancelled out by Komatsu, and the home team was indebted to a string of fine saves from Takagi to save it from dropping into the cellar themselves.

Grampus11 Cerezo
GK50Yoshinari TakagiKim Jin Hyeon21GK
DF32Hayuma TanakaDaisuke Takahashi yellow.gif20DF
DF3Mitsuru ChiyotandaTeruyuki Moniwa3DF
DF5Takahiro MasukawaTaikai Uemoto yellow.gif22DF
DF6Shohei AbeNaoya Ishigami19DF
MF14Keiji YoshimuraKota Fujimoto4MF
MF9Igor Burzanovic yellow.gifAmaral6MF
MF20Danilson yellow.gifMasato Kurogi25MF
MF10Yoshizumi OgawaTakashi Inui7MF
FW17Yuki MakiRyuji Bando11FW
FW19Keita SugimotoAkihiro Ienga14FW
Subs BenchSubs Bench
GK21Koji NishimuraKenya Matsui1GK
DF23Genta MatsuoKenji Haneda2DF
MF22Koji Hashimotoiroyuki Omata16DF
MF27Sho HanaiNoriyuki Sakemoto17MF
MF28Taishi TaguchiHotaru Yamaguchi26MF
FW25Mu KanazakiYusuke Maruhashi28MF
FW29Hikaru KubaRui Komatsu15FW