Monday, 28 February 2011

Mad Dog Muscat Headed for Banpaku

Former Wolves thug, Kevin Muscat, is set to play in tomorrow's ACL opener against Gamba, despite being banned for eight games in the Aussie league. That ban does not apply to AFC games.
Kevin Muscat ready to return to Victory

Saturday, 26 February 2011

J1 Almost Here (Grampus Claim Super Cup)

Today sees the annual preseason game between the League Title Holders and the Emperor's Cup Holders. This year sees Grampus facing off against the Antlers. (Added video highlights, 27 Feb.)

Our starting lineup for today's game is:
GK; Narazaki
DF; Tanaka, Tulio, Masukawa, Abe
MF; Ogawa, Naoshi, Fujimoto
FW; Kanazaki (Yoshimura 71), Josh, Tamada (Hanai 86)

Subs; Takagi, Chiyotanda, Alex Santos, Yoshimura, Hanai, Isomura, Hashimoto

However, I expect the formation to look more like this. ;-)
Xerox Super Cup formation

First Half

This was a fairly even 45 minutes, with both teams looking in reasonable nick. THe slick passing that highlighted much of the latter half of last season for Grampus was evident again. There were some promising moves, but the understanding between the players still needs a bit of work. However, it was the Antlers who had the best chance of the half. Osako rattling the bar with an effort from a tight angle that Narazaki got a faint touch on.

Second Half

The Antlers started this half looking the more aggressive, but fell behind when Masukawa nodded home a Fujimoto free kick in the 54th minute. Nozawa pulled them level 10 minutes later with a perfectly struck free kick that cleared the wall and flew in to Nara's top left corner. Neither team could grab a winner, so the game went to penalties. Ultimately decided in favour of the team with the better keeper.

PK Shoot Out
Grampus    - Antlers
Josh x - x Iwamasa (both saved)
Fujimoto o - o Motoyama (both giving the keeper no chance)
Alex o - x Alex (No. Not the same one stupid.)
Ogawa o - x Araiba (Narazaki saving his third shot of the shootout.)

Grampus U-18s Go Top of Group 9

While AC Milan were being held to yet another draw, the Grampus U-18s romped to a 4-1 win over Stabaek to go top of the group, They now stand a great chance of qualifying for the next stage. Come on lads, let's show these Italians how to play. :-)

Official Viareggio Cup result page
Official Squad Listing (Stick to the Italian for this one. Google makes a horrible mess of Nicky's name.)

Grampus Team
Tsubasa Kato (Nozaki), Okuyama, Nicky Havenaar, Watanabe
Hiei Tomita (Mizuno) Magara Gai Kato
Aoyama Nakane (Tsuzuku)

It seems defender Nick Havenaar is keen to follow his older brother Mike's example. :-) He bagged one of the goals, as did midfielder Hiei and striker Aoyama. (The other goals seems to have been an own goal.)

Will put up a 'translation' and link to the official Grampus report in due course.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Ishii & Co Hold on for Valuable Point (Redux)

Here is the Orca's take on the incredible draw against the bigger and older AC Milan lads on Tuesday.

This game seems to have been very similar to the recent Japan - Australia game in the Asian Cup final. The AC Milan youth team started well and much the better of the opening minutes. However, Grampus custodian Ishii and his defence held firm during a torrid opening 10 minutes. This allowed the team to find their own rhythm, which saw them start to probe the Milan defence. As you might expect of an Italian team, they proved hard to break down and the first half ended with Nagoya having been outshot 5:1.

The second half was a more one-sided affair. MIlan got another seven shots off, one of which came back off the crossbar. Despite struggling to cope with the greater physical presence of their opponents, our U-18s showed the resilience and concentration to hold on for an encouraging draw. They should have learned much from this game. Now we will have to wait and see if the lessons have been learned. Nagoya Grampus U-i8s:
Kato     Kawamoto   (Nicky) Havenaar      Kashio  (Iwata)
      Tsuzuku          Sato          Mizuno
            Kawamura (Tomita)   Adachi (Nakane)

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Grampus U-18s Holding Their Own in Italy

The Nagoya Grampus U-18s, currently in Italy for an international youth tourney, hold their AC Milan counterparts to a 0-0 draw. Details of the starting lineups can be found on the official Viareggio Cup site It is an Italian site, of course. (Thanks to Piotr Wicherski for sending the link.)
The club report is now up. U-18イタリア遠征レポート(2/22)

I am busy with other footy work at the moment, so you will have to take your chances with Google Translate for the time being. A summary will appear in due course.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Grampus 2011: Youngsters Set to Get Their Chance

Grampus have been experimenting with some interesting formations in their practice games. These have seen nominal midfielders Mu Kanazaki and Koji Hashimoto occupy the centre forward role when Josh Kennedy has been rested. More interestingly, Sho Hanai and Ryota Isomura have been tried in the anchor role ahead of the defence. (Rookie Kensuke Nagai has only just joined the squad, so has not been used much yet. But is expected to be our first choice sub for the forward role.)

NGE lineup Hanai1

Lineup for 1st Half vs Kyushu International (9 Feb)

This saw Hanai in a more familiar role, but it was his move to the more defensive anchor role that suggest he may give Yoshimura a challenge for that position. Sho played a few practise games as centre back last year, and may well be able to give us a realistic option to Keiji Yoshimura. He would also be a bit more creative in the role, but lacks the physical presence that Danilson brings to the position.

NGE lineup Mu

Lineup for 2nd Half vs Kyushu International (9 Feb)

This saw Mu Kanazaki eclipse Josh as he bagged a hat-trick.

NGE lineup Hashimoto

Lineup for 2nd 30-min Game vs Fukuoka Uni (12 Feb)

Hanai again in a more creative role, with Isomura taking on the anchor role. This ought to be the more effective use of both their talents.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

J.League Teams Being Ripped Off?

The recent saga of Shinji Okazaki's move from S-pulse to Stuttgart highlights the J.League's naivety in dealing with player transfers. (Don't tell me you were surprised that FIFA and EUFA backed a rich European club? Money talks. Why else would FIFA choose to hold the World Cup in the desert.)

Yahoo News: Okazaki joins Japanese exodus to Germany's Bundesliga FIFA And UEFA Rule Shinji Okazaki's Transfer To Stuttgart Was Legal

Given the League's, and club's, tendency to respect a player's desire to play overseas, they are at the mercy of unscrupulous agents and clubs out to make a quick profit. Have S-Pulse, or Cerezo in the case of Kagawa, or Gamba in the case of Ienaga, insisted on a "selling-on" clause that assures them of a percentage of any subsequent transfer? (Mallorca have already set an 18 mil euro price on Ienaga, and Kagawa is valued at over 23 mil euros.) Football TransfersAn article that should be required reading for every General Manager and Owner in Japan. Japan International Akihiro Ienaga Joins Mallorca

Sport 360: Man Utd keen on Dortmund starlet Kagawa

I certainly hope Grampus show a bit more nous with Kensuke Nagai. Another likely target of Machiavellian poachers, if he proves to be as successful as we hope. Such 'sell-on' clauses are quite common in Europe and help to ensure that a club is genuinely interested in the player's ability, rather than his marketing value. (Hidetoshi Nakata ended up being passed around Europe like a golden egg, after his early success at Perugia.)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Formation Battles Loom Ahead for Grampus

Here are what are likely to be our starting lineups for the first few games of the season, until Dani is back from injury towards the end of May. Jungo Fujimoto and Yoshizumi Ogawa will be battling it out for the regular slot, but both should benefit from the fact that they will be strong rivals in a season where we will need rotate players in some key positions. (You can decide for yourselves whether this 4-3-3, as the club insists, or 4-5-1.)

Lineup with Ogawa in MF
Lineup with Yoshizumi in central midfield
NGEstamen Fujimoto
Lineup with Fujimoto alongside Naoshi
The formation images come courtesy of Teppei at the Rising Sun News, who has developed a system that makes it relatively easy to generate them. Expect to see a few more over the coming days as I add information about some the lineups we have seen in the practice games.

Kume Puts Pixie on a Diet?


Nagoya Grampus General Manager Kazumasa Kume seems to be putting his manager on a restrictive diet. Yes, the squad for 2011 is slightly stronger than that for last season, but there are only 29 of them. The addition of Jungo Fujimoto and Kensuke Nagai does improve the team, but the squad only contains four forwards. The lessons of 2009 have not been learned it seems. Both rookie Nagai and the speedy, but inexperienced Kuba are both likely to see quite a bit of action, if Tamada and Kennedy suffer any setback. (Indeed, we have seen Mu Kanazaki and Koji Hashimoto playing the centre forward role in practice.)


Pos No. First Name Surname DOB Age












DF4MarcusTulio Tanaka24/4/198130
















































Friday, 4 February 2011

Bayern Munich has an eye on Gamba's Usami / Interview with Executive board chairman Rummenigge : Sports : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Bad news for the blue half of Osaka. Having already lost Lucas and Yasuda, Gamba can barely afford to lose another key player, if they hope to contend for a title
Bayern Munich has an eye on Gamba's Usami / Interview with Executive board chairman Rummenigge : Sports : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

2011 Schedule

The J.League has announced the schedule for 2011. (It is even available in English.)

Grampus kick-off at Toyota Stadium against the Marinos on March 5th. However, before that they travel to Tokyo to face Kashima in the Super Cup on February 26th and then to Zhejiang in China to face Greentown in the ACL on March 1st. Looks like the team will be making good use of its ANA loyalty card this year. :-)

For full details of the Grampus schedule (in Japanese only, I'm afraid), visit their official Game Schedule page. The Grampus league schedule is also available in English on the League's Club Guide page.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dani Out for 3 Months

Grampus midfielder Danilson, training back home in Columba, carelessly broke a metatarsal in his right foot. He will be out for about three months. Looks like we will going with Naoshi and Yoshimura as our defensive midfield combo for a while. :-(