Friday, 17 April 2009

Kawasaki Preview

Mention of Saturday's opponents Kawasaki Frontale will no doubt bring to the minds of Ardija fans the two extraordinary J-League games that took place between the teams last season. In May at Frontale's Todoroki Stadium, the Squirrels fought back from 2-0 down at half time to win thanks to Yoshiyuki Kobayashi's incredible late goal, lashed past keeper Eiji Kawashima from inside the Omiya half; while in the latter stages of the campaign and in dire need of points, Omiya again triumphed in spectacular fashion as Klemen Lavric turned and volleyed into the top corner of the net.

Ardija of course survived that relegation fight, in part because of the maximum points gleaned against the Kanagawa Blues, who themselves finished the year in second spot in the league. It's arguably as a consequence of that success that, while their Asian Champions League campaign is proceeding nicely, Kawasaki have achieved mixed results in their J1 matches so far in 2009. One win in five - and that against fellow ACL entrants Nagoya Grampus - has left Frontale fans in a despondent frame of mind.

Chong Te Se nevertheless still qualifies as one of the most dangerous strikers in the J-League and even in an underperforming side has notched up three goals. In Mato Neretljak, Omiya have acquired a defender who can cope with most of the challenges thrown at him by Japanese football - but as Agent Orange discussed in midweek, the giant Croatian cannot do this alone and in fact, despite his presence in the team, the Squirrels have started to develop the unwelcome habit of conceding late goals, as injury time strikes by Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol in the last two fixtures will confirm.

It's possible that coach Jang Wae Ryong will elect to make a change to his back four, following the appearance for an hour in Monday's reserve team game of close season signing Park Won Jae. Injured in pre-season, the Korean international has yet to make his Ardija debut and it's possible that he may be able to break into the team against Kawasaki, Yasuhiro Hato on the left-hand side being the most likely candidate to step down. It is perhaps hard to think that too many Squirrels fans will be too disappointed at such a change.

Every Omiya supporter, however, can only have felt the anguish and upset of young forward Masahiko Ichikawa as he was taken off injured in the match with Gamba. Having by all accounts been determined to make 2009 his year, Ichikawa faces three months on the sidelines and a vibrant, promising partnership with fellow speed merchant Naoki Ishihara has been broken up before it's had a proper chance to get started. With Yoshihito Fujita not even a substitute for the Gamba game, the skillful but far less mobile Denis Marques looks set to return to the starting line-up.



manyar 17 April 2009 at 08:55  

I'm predicting a 3-0 home win inspired by a first-half fist fight between Mato Neretljak and Daisuke Tomita.
Either that or you'll score an early goal and we'll struggle to find a way through your well-manned defense. No despondency here!

Furtho 17 April 2009 at 17:07  

I have a nasty feeling that our bubble is about to burst, that Mato will have an off-day and the reintroduction of Denis Marques will bring about a lack of pizzazz.

OmiyaOmiya,  17 April 2009 at 17:42  

I cant see a repeat of last seasons result but would like to. Never thought I would ever say it but why not start with Klemen Lavric?

Furtho 17 April 2009 at 17:45  

It seems as if Jang generally is keener on the speedy forwards, but with Ichikawa off the scene Lavric would appear to be ahead of Fujita in the pecking order now. It wouldn't be that much of a surprise if he came on at some point, but Denis has to be favourite to start alongside Ishihara.

OmiyaOmiya,  17 April 2009 at 17:59  

Yeah that sounds about right to me.

A long shot would be starting him at centre back. I remember him being good at attacking the ball could clear corners, free kicks and high balls into the box. Never happen but I can dream.

Furtho 17 April 2009 at 18:25  

No surprises in the Yahoo XI:

GK Ezumi
DF Tsukamoto
DF Neretljak
DF Tomita
DF Hato
MF Fujimoto
MF Kobayashi
MF Kanazawa
MF Hashimoto
FW Ishihara
FW Denis Marques

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