Saturday, 21 March 2009

Forward Thinking

There's nothing I enjoy more than ninety minutes of wall-to-wall, action-packed footy... Brother, today wasn't it. Neither Ardija or visitors Vissel Kobe looked too bothered to score. Kobe had one real dangerous chance and they capitalized. We returned the favor on another set piece; game over.

The one bright spot was the play of our three speedy forwards, Masahiko Ichikawa, Naoki Ishihara and Daisuke Watabe. When Yoshihito Fujita was substituted after the Vissel goal, Ishihara started getting the team to push forward. When Watabe came in with seventeen minutes to go, full attack! Five of our nine shots and most of the Squirrels' corners came when all three forwards were on the field.

A lot of the problems stemmed from Hayato Hashimoto being very tentative on passes and Chikara Fujimoto doing his "fantasista" routine, even though Vissel had it covered fairly easily. I think part of the problem was that Chikara and Hayato remember the old days of passing to people who were afraid to shoot unless they were in perfect position. The kids don't care. They'll go after junk balls. They want to score.

Watabe really stood out today with his speed and quick thinking in the box. One play saw him chest a high pass from Ishihara to a streaking Ichikawa, who wasted a golden opportunity with a weak shot to the keeper. That close and the kid needs to blast it... right through the guy. Make him lose a few teeth.

Chikara on the other hand pissed me off with the showboating. The goal for Kobe started when he was easily dispossesed by Hideo Tanaka. He jogs back, Taishi Tsukamoto runs but doesn't quite stop the cross, Yasuhiro Hato and Mato Neretljak aren't back in time to stop Takayuki Yoshida from shooting and Koji Ezumi can't get to it.

We aren't looking great but we look alright. And we're picking up points with a depleted squad, so that's nice. One has to wonder who will be out when the vets come back, like Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, Denis Marques et al... that's a column for another day!

Three Stars

1. Ishihara
2. Watabe
3. Ichikawa

One final note - I have to applaud coach Jang Wae Ryong for getting the kids involved. Today saw Tsukamoto, Ichikawa (2008 class) and Arai (2009) start and Kohei Tokita and Watabe (2008) make sub appearances. My man Shunsuke Fukuda also made the bench, so maybe we will get a glimpse of the big man in action on Wednesday!

Anyone see Toshiya Miura playing these guys? Yeah, didn't think so. The best part of this season has been seeing guys with potential get some time, instead of choosing a team on the seniority system.

Orange! Happy!!! Football!

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