Monday, 16 March 2009

A Thing Of Beauty - Agent Orange On Hiroshima v Omiya

Now I hate diving. I think it ruins the game. The Gamba v Jubilo game had three and the wind from Osaka must have been blowing south, because Mr Matsuo the referee decided to call two of his own. The first went against Omiya after Hisato Sato made an entire Broadway production out of a forearm to the back. He wasn't gonna get to the ball but there was contact and Daisuke Tomita needs to be careful. Fair enough call.

The clown who took the kick, Tomoaki Makino, decided he was gonna do his own little rendition and face away from the keeper before shooting. Koji Ezumi stopped it with his legs after guessing right and smothered the ball. That's the third time I've seen Ezumi stone a PK. If he's not the best in the J-League at doing that, then he's fairly close up there.

The next PK went to Omiya and it definitely was a dive. But, and this is a big but, it was a GLORIOUS dive! I hate diving... except when it's done flawlessly.

The diver was the most unlikely Yasuhiro Hato, who cut in between two defenders, got past them both in the box, felt some contact on his legs and went down without a huge amount of theatrics. 99% of the divers go down and make a huge to-do about it. Kisho Yano, Keiji Tamada and Gilsinho all are guilty of this and are rightfully reviled for it.

The thing about Hato's dive, however, is that all the things came together beautifully. Here are my criteria for a good dive:

1. The defense are partially at fault - in this case, Sanfrecce shouldn't have let him split them so easily. When they did, the one defender went for his leg and not the ball. It was a gamble that nudging Hato would knock him off rhythm and they would get away with it. Didn't work.

2. Positioning - if you are going to dive, make sure you do it while being shielded at least partially from the official.

3. Timing - make sure you go down the instant you feel the contact. Don't delay or it looks pathetic.

4. Sublety - don't act like you got shot. Undersell, don't oversell.

5. Don't do it constantly.

I'd say don't do it at all. It's bending the rules and even if you get the call, you will probably pay for it later. Although it's hard for me to criticize this dive or the official for calling it because I had to look at the replay. I thought it was clean at first, honestly.

What I do have a bit of a problem with is picking Mato Neretljak to take the PK over one of the forwards. It worked out fine and Mato had nerves of steel on the kick, but I think it would have been nice to get Yoshihito Fujita his first goal and maybe let him relax a bit. I think he has to score soon or else he's gonna lose his confidence - that would have been an easy way to do it.


That was a good win against a very hot team. Omiya really didn't play that well, but they did enough to get the win. Sanfrecce is really the anti-Oita... very strong on pushing forward and attacking, but they make so many mistakes on defense that you always have a chance to get back in a game with them. Omiya scored both their non-PK goals on breakdowns in the back three.

One was an interesting three-on-two break which saw Ryohei Arai bounce a pass off a Sanfrecce defender to a streaking Fujita, who pushed it to Masahiko Ichikawa who sent a slooooooow roller past Akihiro Sato. Wasn't pretty, but it was nice to see him put it in. The second was a breakdown by Sanfrecce on a corner, which left an unmarked Mato in front of the box for an easy tapper.

The midfield was having a rough go with six on four and looked a bit shaky. Hayato Hashimoto absolutely couldn't keep up with Mato's former Dinamo Zagreb teammate Mihael Mikic, who was dangerous all game. Hato did pretty well in covering for him. Arai had another shaky passing game but played decently on the defensive end. Chikara Fujimoto still hasn't quite adjusted to being the playmaker. Shin Kanazawa looked pretty active. It would help to have Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Tomoya Uchida back.

Today we were lucky and sometimes lucky is better than good.

My three stars:

1. Mato - he compensated nicely for an early breakdown on the first goal. Could he be our Marcus Tulio Tanaka?

2. Ezumi - two goals in twenty shots... a couple of lucky bounces, but he absolutely stoned Makino so we'll never know.

3. Ichikawa - he steered that thing in but, hey, he did it. Here's hoping this is something he can build on. He looked good as a sub off the bench - when he came in it added energy and he helped turn the tide for Omiya. I think the problem we have now is that Ichikawa and Naoki Ishihara both probably excel at the super-sub position and lose something as starters.

HEY. Maybe I will write about our forwards next week! Super!

Orange! HAPPY!!!!!!!!! Football!



Kano,  20 March 2009 at 18:28  

Mato rocks! Nuff said. He was crucial in Suwon retaining their title last season and I was totally taken aback when Omiya signed him. You would expect guys like him to be playing for one of the top 4 J-league clubs. But I guess its a good thing cos I'm an Omiya supporter and he is a very quality addition to the squad.

Stefan 24 March 2009 at 18:07  

I can't find any contact information, so I'll post here if that's ok.

I'm a Sanfrecce supporter thinking about starting up a blog with a friend or two. Tentative start is at

I have a Flickr set of my photos from this game also:

I know that you guys are in Hiroshima again in May, so it would be cool to keep in touch.

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