Saturday, 7 March 2009

S-Pulse Preview

So here we are again, at the start of a fifth J1 season for the Mighty Squirrels and possessed of the optimism that can generally be dredged up from within even the most curmudgeonly of football supporters at this time of year. Every year, Ardija are predicted to fill one of the relegation places, every year there's a good period of time when it looks as if that's exactly what they will do - and every year, just when it seems as if the doom merchants are to be proved right, Omiya manage to scrap their way out of the drop zone and clamber to safety.

So how do things look for the Squirrels as they head into 2009 and Sunday's year-opener against Shimizu S-Pulse? The most obvious point to raise about the events of the winter is that, when compared with most of Ardija's J-League rivals, the club have actually spent a decent amount of cash on new players. We will presumably never really know how real the possibility was of national team stalwart and Yokohama F Marinos legend Yuji Nakazawa making the move to Omiya. Even so, new signings Naoki Ishihara, Yoshihito Fujita, Park Won Jae and Mato Neretljak all have at the very least a half-decent opportunity of some first team action during the course of the year, even if Park is ruled out of the S-Pulse game due to injury.

With last year's rookie Masahiko Ichikawa having grabbed the limelight as Ardija's most potent striker during pre-season, there does exist the intriguing possibility that the 2009 vintage Omiya team under Jang Wae Ryong will look very different from that led by his predecessor Yasuhiro Higuchi. Especially during the long-term absence through injury of Denis Marques, an Ichikawa / Fujita front pairing would seem to have some chance of starting against the Shizuoka Oranges.

Elsewhere in the team, with Koji Ezumi by all accounts certain to remain between the sticks, a defence of Taishi Tsukamoto and Yasuhiro Hato on the flanks and new arrival Neretljak with stalwart Daisuke Tomita in the middle is the most likely quartet. The midfield is far more open to question, with only Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Chikara Fujimoto considered probable starters, assuming fitness. But it's only Jang who really knows how Omiya will line up and with a stated target for 2009 of an Asian Champions League place, the Squirrels need a bright, aggressive start to the campaign - and three points.



Furtho 8 March 2009 at 07:23  

Yahoo line-up is as follows:

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

Nick 8 March 2009 at 23:08  

Hello all, Ive had a crack at starting a blog, it`s a bit tommy tank at the moment but if you`d be so kind as to set up a link, ill of course return the favour.

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