Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Kyoto Preview

After the passion, drama and above all frustration of Sunday's J1 defeat by FC Tokyo, Ardija move on to a midweek fixture as the 2010 Nabisco Cup tournament gets underway at Kyoto Sanga. A key issue as far as Squirrels supporters are concerned is the situation with An Yong Hak and Mato Neretljak, sent off in hair-raising circumstances against Tokyo but suspended only for this Sanga game and therefore available for selection for the key league clash at Albirex Niigata at the weekend. All of which clearly amounts to a respectful thumbs-up to the decision-making abilities of referee Nobutsugu Murakami.

Jang Wae Ryong's policy as regards squad rotation in the Nabisco Cup is as yet unknown, but the enforced absence of both Mato and An would seem to suggest that Takuya Aoki may get the opportunity of a starting place in central midfield. Relegation king Shusuke Tsubouchi has been top of the list of reserve defenders thus far, but giant Shunsuke Fukuda will be hopeful of seeing some action against Kyoto. In with a chance of making their senior debuts could be rookies Jun Kanakubo and Masakazu Kihara, the modest results of Jang's close-season efforts to improve the squad's wide midfield players.

As for Kyoto, to the surprise and relief of many Ardija supporters they offered an amount of actual money during the winter for Squirrels defender / midfielder player Yosuke Kataoka as a replacement for departing club captain Yuto Sato. But Kataoka's limitations seem to have become apparent to Sanga staff rather more quickly than was the case in Saitama and after a by all accounts hopeless display against Vissel Kobe he has been restricted to a minute or so as a substitute. By coincidence, Kyoto have made a marked improvement since that first game with Kobe and go into Wednesday's match in far better form than the Squirrels.



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