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Saturday, 14 May 2011

Grampus Youngsters Sink in the Gulf

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(Blogger is back from the dead, so here is my view of the game in the UAE on Thursday morning.) Grampus had a good start in this game, but soon lost their rhythm after falling behind and were second best for most of the second half when substitutions and inexperience disrupted what little rhythm they had left.

Grampus lineup vs Al Ain

Grampus got off to a promising start. Makito Yoshida and Ogawa both having chances to give Nagoya an early lead. Yoshida saw his shot deflected over for for a corner, and Nagai setup Ogawa with a clear sight of goal, but he miscued the shot over bar. At this point Grampus were spraying the ball around well. Matsuo also had a crack at goal and Hashimoto won a corner with some tricky playnear the corner flag. However, the fell behind to a well-placed shot by Al Merry that crept in Takagi's far post. Initially, this setback did not deter Grampus from going forward, and Ogawa blasted wastefully over after more good work by Nagai. Ogawa also head over under challenge from keeper a few minutes later. But the home team always looked dangerous on the break and Elias added a second late in the half, after a good break down left. 2-0 down and a makeshift team faced an uphill battle to salvage something from the game.

Stojkovic brought on Kuba for Yoshida for this half and the nippy youngster made a difference almost immediately. He latched onto Takagi's hoof upfield after 3 minutes, to burst into the box and setup Fujimoto with simple a tap-in from close range. Unfortunately, the home team restored their 2-goal cushion almost immediately. Matsuo conceded a penalty, a minute later, pulling a player back as he burst into the box although he fell more as a result of tripping over ball rather than Genta's attentions. Thereafter the game deteriorated into a scrappy game. Al Ain did not have the class to exploit their advantage and Nagoya started to look very disjointed. Although Teruki had a couple of cracks at goal, they posed little threat for the remainder of the game.

So what of our youngsters, hoping to make an impression and catch the manager's eye and get the occasional chance in the first team? Well Ryo Isomura and Sho Hanai singularly failed to make any impression and can probably look forward to practice matches alone for the rest of the season. Only Hiakaru Kuba, Teruki Tanaka and possibly Koji Hashimoto can expect to see themselves given another chance. Genta Matsuo looked strong, but gave away some needless fouls and of course the decisive penalty. If he can improve his anticipation and timing, then his strength and stamina may see him get a reprieve. We will have to hope so, since he is the only obvious replacement for Hayuma.

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