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.