Sunday, 17 May 2009

Agent Orange Reports: The Bus

I guess today is a good day to talk about the joys of taking the supporters bus to a game. After a bright and early 6am start from outside Omiya station, a hearty group of Omiya's finest took a five-hour jaunt to lovely Aichi for what assuredly would be a slaughter.

Now, the bus provides supporters with a series of activities to enlighten and entertain, such as one hour of Korean language lessons performed at high decibels. How about a quiz, ummm, quizzing you on various player characteristics? You could even win a signed jersey from a player who wasn't on the team when the jerseys were in fashion.

Not enough? Would a thirty-minute Ardija infomercial suffice? I not only learned about the team's mission, I bought into a timeshare in Kumagaya. Ohhhhh, I forgot the coup de grace! The world's longest bingo game... EVER!

My favorite part of the trip, though, has to be the rest stops (no, not in a George Michael kind of way). Specifically, the truck stop spicy pork wheels are my favorite. Ay Dios Mio, they are fabulous! Truly great. No-one can resist truck stop meat (again, not in a George Michael kind of way). [I think you'll find that some people actually can - Ed].

The match itself was one of the most exciting Omiya games I've been around to see. A back and forth encounter with a great goal, many tense moments, and a few head-scratching incidents (most involving Chikara Fujimoto).

Back on the bus again for two movies dubbed in Japanese and we cruise into Omiya. Bus ride over and time for home a good fifteen-plus hours after setting out. I mock, but the bus is pretty fun, the staff is great and it was good to get a chance to talk with former player Akira Ishigame-san for a few minutes. I am a fan!

Game Notes

1. Yosuke Kataoka seems to be settling into one half of diabolical play and one half of pretty good football. He can't seem to get consistency down. At the break, the eagle eye standing next to me saw the six-pack arguing with Yasuhiro Hato over positioning. Kataoka has got to be the most frustrating player in the J-League, because he shows from time to time that he is capable and then on other occasions just loses it altogether.

2. The pairing of Hayato Hashimoto and Shin Kanazawa was pretty good. The possession wasn't there but they controlled the middle and getting sixteen shots helped.

3. I marvel at the hard work that Yoshihito Fujita and Naoki Ishihara put in, game in and game out. I don't remember having a pair of forwards who worked and fought for loose balls.

4. I'm not sure how I feel about Denis Marques being played out on the side. While it did definitely free him up and allow him to handle the ball more, I think the defense suffered a bit. Denis doesn't play much defense, doesn't like contact and isn't very interested when he's not in a scoring position.

5. I also am not sold on Park Won Jae as a defender. The second half saw Nagoya attack the left numerous times and I think if Volker Finke watches this game he is going to get Urawa on Sunday to attack the Ardija left all day long.

6. Mato Neretljak seems to make one big mistake a game. The rest of the time he is the best player on the field more often than not. I'm not sure why it happens. I hope it stops.

Three Stars

1. Hayato Hashimoto - I didn't think it was a good move to put him in the middle of midfield, but he proved me wrong. He might be better side to side than as an up and down sprinter.

2. Yoshihito Fujita - Glad to see him scoring and what a good effort that was. I'm hoping he can start getting some in bunches. He's almost there but he has trouble scoring with the ball at his feet.

3. Koji Ezumi - Really solid game against a team that gives him fits. He was the second best keeper on the field today, but only because Grampus' Seigo Narazaki was brilliant. That's tough to go into a place where you got shelled a couple of times and perform. He did.

And Finally...

A PSA (Public Squirrel Announcement).



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