Friday, 20 March 2009

Kobe Preview

The Squirrels play their first Saturday match of the new season tomorrow as Vissel Kobe visit Omiya Park, a match that provides Jang Wae Ryong's new-look Ardija side with a cast-iron opportunity to continue their encouraging start to 2009. Having been considered one of the top players in the K-League over recent years, giant central defender Mato Neretljak is already looking a potential star with an assured debut against Shimizu S-Pulse and Frode Johnsen followed by a match-winning performance in last week's encounter with Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Younger Japanese players are also getting their opportunity under Jang, rookie Ryohei Arai taking a central role and Masahiko Ichikawa netting his first ever pro goal against Sanfrecce in notably calm fashion. The same player was twice on target in the pre-season friendly with Vissel that resulted in Kobe administering a 5-2 thrashing for the Squirrels - and Jang will surely be using this defeat as a motivational tool as he prepares his team for Saturday's re-match. The coach has also reportedly concentrated on developing team spirit, holding up as an example the behaviour of Masato Saito as a positive influence on the whole squad in Hiroshima, despite the veteran midfielder having been a non-playing substitute.

As for Vissel, their pre-season has been dominated in media terms by the arrival at the club of former international captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, but perhaps more crucially have lost key front players Leandro and Yoshito Okubo to Gamba Osaka and Bundesliga side Wolfsburg respectively. Kobe began the campaign with a one-goal defeat at Kyoto Sanga, but overcome ACL participants Kawasaki Frontale last weekend thanks in part to a goal for Daisuke Sudo, promoted from the reserves following the departure of the clubs' two star turns.

Vissel's strength nevertheless lies in the midfield of Botti and Kim Nam-Il, focusing attention on the inexperienced Arai and Shin Kanazawa, who have been the perhaps surprising choice of Jang in the middle of the park during the absence through long-term injury of captain Yoshiyuki Kobayashi. There is confidence blossoming in Omiya and if the club are to meet their target for the season of a top-five finish - or even an ACL slot - Vissel Kobe at home is the kind of game that needs to finish in an Ardija victory.

Thanks to Omiya Fan for photos from Friday's training



Furtho 21 March 2009 at 05:45  

Yahoo line-up is:

GK Ezumi
DF Tsukamoto
DF Neretljak
DF Tomita
DF Hato
MF Fujimoto
MF Kanazawa
MF Arai
MF Hashimoto
FW Fujita
FW Ichikawa

SMB 21 March 2009 at 07:19  

How many months pregnant is Denis?

Furtho 21 March 2009 at 15:39  

It's nothing more than an unfortunate billowing effect.

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