Saturday, 19 September 2009

Nagoya Preview

At the end of the 2007 season, when the Squirrels moved back into their Omiya Park home after nearly two years of exile at Komaba, there was much talk of the importance of making the shiny new stadium into a fortress - a place where opposing teams would fear coming to play, on account of the piping hot atmosphere created by the fans right up close to the pitch and Omiya's own special brand of breathlessly attacking football. Then, a match took place.

In fact, Ardija have never had any real consistency as a J1 outfit, either at home or away. This fluctuation can be exemplified easily enough by the last two matches, during which Kashima Antlers were put to the sword one week only for Shimizu S-Pulse to brush aside a lacklustre, out-of-sorts Squirrels the next. As soon as Omiya supporters get to believing that their team has finally made the breakthrough to be able to compete with Japan's elite clubs, they are brought down to earth with a thud of disappointment.

But if longer-term progress is to be made, it has to start at home - and to be fair, Jang Wae Ryong's side seem to be moving in something approaching the right direction. Aside from the 3-0 drubbing by FC Tokyo, Ardija are unbeaten at Omiya Park in the league since the end of April. Too many of those games have been drawn, though, to enable them to make a real impression on the upper half of the standings - but Saturday's opponents Nagoya Grampus have had similar problems this year in stringing together good results.

Indeed they were for the most part outplayed by Omiya when the two teams met in May, Davi scrambling in a late equaliser during what turned out to be one his last matches in a Grampus shirt. The subsequent arrival of Australian giant Josh Kennedy seemed to help the Red Whales turn a corner, but defeats in recent weeks to the relegation-threatened pair of Oita Trinita and Kashiwa Reysol have again caused questions to be asked about the type of team that Dragan Stojkovic has really put together.

So which Omiya team will turn up on Saturday? Will the central midfield and the back four let the likes of Kennedy and Keiji Tamada take control of the match? Or can Rafael and Naoki Ishihara reignite the fire that burned with such intensity the last time that Ardija turned out at Omiya Park?



Furtho 19 September 2009 at 05:34  

Yahoo predicted line-up, including Aoki instead of the suspended Kanazawa:

GK Ezumi
DF Tsukamoto
DF Kataoka
DF Neretljak
DF Hato
MF Fujimoto
MF Aoki
MF Hashimoto
MF Uchida
FW Ishihara
FW Rafael

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