Friday, 26 June 2009

JEF Preview

It must be a kind of weird unwritten J-League law that matches between Omiya Ardija and JEF United have to be described as "relegation six-pointers" and tomorrow's encounter in darkest Chiba sure is no exception. Thinking about it, this could conceivably be because both teams are always battling it out at the wrong end of the J1 table. Amazing how that works. But aside from Oita Trinita and to a lesser extent JEF's neighbours Kashiwa Reysol, the bottom half of the division is, as ever, very close - meaning that every point won or lost is of crucial importance.

The fixture list was kind to Ardija last week, enabling the Squirrels to begin the long climb out of their Nabisco Cup slump by beating an out-of-form Kyoto Sanga at home. Omiya managed two good goals from set plays but were also aided by the lucky sending off of a Sanga defender, following an embarrassing over-reaction by forward Naoki Ishihara. The third quarter of the game was the greatest source of concern to coach Jang Wae Ryong, as his team ceded territorial control following the appearance of dominant Kyoto substitute Sidiclei.

But the back four of Yasuhiro Hato, Mato Neretljak, Daisuke Tomita and the returning Taishi Tsukamoto [pictured] were just about able to keep Diego and Co quiet, despite Tsukamoto's error in conceding the penalty that brought Sanga back into the match just after half time. It would be good to see some stability from Jang and the same four keep their places for the JEF match, although it is clear enough that the Squirrels coach - for all his talk of flexibility as a key requirement - simply does not know how best to use Park Won Jae within a 4-4-2 formation.

The talented Korean international could be forgiven for being confused as to what his role in the team is, having again come off the bench in the Kyoto game. One assumes that he will be a substitute again given the fact that Chikara Fujimoto will no doubt be returning from suspension. A further intriguing factor when it comes to the midfield is the arrival at the club this week of another Korean player in the shape of rookie Seo Yong Duk - perhaps an unlikely candidate to start against JEF, but who can predict how Jang might make his decisions?

With a goal from pint-sized midfield dynamo Masaki Fukai, United pulled off an excellent 1-0 win at Nagoya Grampus last weekend, helping them to move away from the bottom two. Their notably small squad, including former Ardija man Naoya Saeki, has achieved distinctly patchy results under Alex Miller this year but a close match would appear likely. The 4-2 win for Omiya in the corresponding fixture last season, in which Denis Marques and Pedro Junior ripped through the JEF defence and Yosuke Kataoka scored the goal of his career, seems a long way away.



Furtho 26 June 2009 at 20:29  

Yahoo XI...

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

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