Thursday, 4 March 2010

2010 Player Profiles: Midfielders, pt 1

5. An Yong Hak - 安 英学 - 25 Oct 1978 - 182cm / 75kg - NEW

Ardija's first-ever World Cup participant? North Korean international An has a level of J-League experience with Albirex Niigata and Nagoya Grampus, but his career has gone downhill since moving to South Korea in 2006. Two years at Suwon Samsung Bluewings have seen An play only eighteen games and he'll need to be playing regularly for Omiya - adding some bite to central midfield - if he wants to go to South Africa.

6. Takuya Aoki - 青木 拓矢 - 16 Sep 1989 - 179cm / 72kg

Wow, 2010 is young Aoki's third year as a Squirrel. He's only played five J1 games and often spends time away with the young Japan national squad, but did well when he got in the team due to Shin Kanazawa being suspended for the last couple of matches of 2009. Coach Jang Wae Ryong looks to have a set idea as to his strongest midfield but Aoki isn't in it - yet.

7. Tomoya Uchida - 内田 智也 - 10 Jul 1983 - 166cm / 58kg

A wide midfield player who joined Ardija from Yokohama FC for the 2008 season. Picked up more playing time last year under Jang and scored one of the best goals of 2009 when he lashed in a free kick against FC Tokyo. The problem is that Uchida lacks the presence to make a real impact, all too often ending up marginalised as the Squirrels cede control of the middle of the pitch. If Omiya are to move up the table, that needs to change.

11. Chikara Fujimoto - 藤本 主税 - 31 Oct 1977 - 168cm / 68kg

Surely the most exasperating member of the Squirrels squad and as such it is unfortunate that Fujimoto remains Jang's captain. Like Uchida, he only rarely seems able to offer a genuine contribution and ends up spending a lot of time moaning about things and making unforced errors. Still, at times later in 2009 there did appear to be some signs of an understanding developing with Rafael, so who knows.

17. Hayato Hashimoto - 橋本 早十 - 15 Sep 1981 - 175cm / 63kg

There were two surprises for Hashimoto in 2009. One, after having spent his whole Ardija career on the fringes of the starting line-up at best, he was suddenly a first choice. Two, he was a first choice in the middle of midfield, rather than as a wide player. Good for him, of course, but less positively the 28-year-old was in reality one of the weak links of the side. It would be nice to think that his position might be under threat.

22. Jun Kanakubo - 金久保 順 - 26 Jul 1987 - 170cm / 64kg - NEW

Rookie midfielder who has signed for the Squirrels from JFL side Ryutsu Keizai University. Has definitely been confined to the second-string XI in the pre-season games and it's likely that first team opportunities for the winger will be restricted to the odd appearance as substitute and perhaps the odd run out in the Nabisco Cup. Oh, that someone were able to put Fujimoto under a bit more pressure.

23. Shin Kanazawa - 金澤 慎 - 09 Sep 1983 - 174cm / 67kg

Like Hashimoto, Kanazawa was somewhat unexpectedly thrust into the limelight by the arrival at the club a year ago of coach Jang. Most fans feel he responded well to the responsibility of a tough-tackling central midfield role and indeed he finished second in the GGOA 2009 Player of the Year poll. Even so, it's likely that Kanazawa will fight off stiff competition from An if he is to retain his spot for the forthcoming season.



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