Sunday, 28 March 2010

Red Cards No Disguise For Jang's Failings

Starting to write this piece it's hard to know whether there is a little or a lot to say about Ardija's 2-0 defeat to FC Tokyo on Sunday afternoon. For my sanity's sake, I suspect it may be better to try and keep things brief, which by coincidence is also what referee Nobutsugu Murakami did as far as maintaining the game as an even contest was concerned when he gave Squirrels midfielder An Yong Hak a straight red card in the ninth minute. No-one could say that An is not a, er, combative type of player, but in stretching to make a fifty-fifty challenge on the halfway line he just about won the ball and the Tokyo player fell over his leg.

As captain in the absence of Chikara Fujimoto, Mato Neretljak engaged in conversation with referee Murakami and although it is obviously not possible to know what was said, or indeed in what language the exchange took place, the official saw fit to book Omiya's stand-in skipper. In the closing moments of the first half, Neretljak over-stretched to win the ball and was yellow-carded - quite correctly - meaning that he also had to be sent off. From that point on, the experience of following the game became simply a matter of waiting for Tokyo to score and then, after that had happened, waiting for the final whistle.

Even aside from the officiating it was, let's be clear about this, a horrifically poor game of football. The 2010-era Squirrels, who would be lucky to finish tenth in the JFL if they continue playing in this manner, set their stall out in the opening seconds when from the kick off the ball was passed back and then hammered long for forwards Naoki Ishihara and Masahiko Ichikawa to give chase. It is hard to communicate how pointless a thing to do this is - and how dispiriting it must be for Ichikawa, in particular, given a rare start and then asked to fulfill a role to which his game is completely unsuited.

He's a penalty box player, who can react to opportunities created by team-mates or which happen as a result of defenders' mistakes. He's a striker who is going to score from close range. Play long, high balls to Ichikawa or Ishihara and several things will happen. One, they will almost certainly lose the ball against taller opponents. Two, even if they do keep possession they are isolated from their team-mates. Three, Omiya lose the ability to develop attacks by quick passing and movement through the midfield. Four, Omiya also lose the ability to involve in their attacks wingbacks Arata Sugiyama and Kazuhiro Murakami.

A striking statistic from Sunday's game is that Ardija had just three shots during the entire ninety minutes. No-one would argue that such an unbelievably pathetic showing wasn't to a very great extent due to the sendings off and the resulting need to concentrate completely on defence, but even if the game had been eleven against eleven all the way through it is impossible to imagine that the Jang Wae Ryong's style of play would have enabled Omiya to create many more goalscoring chances. For the record, it's now one goal in open play from four matches so far this season.

Another striking statistic was the visitors' requiring an astounding 32 shots from which to score twice - and this is the other element of the match that was so very bad. Eighteen-year-old substitute Kentaro Shigematsu will emerge with some credit, having scored on his pro debut. But against a team that for the final 81 minutes was always going to be on the back foot, Hiroshi Jofuku's side were humiliatingly pathetic in front of goal, international forward Sota Hirayama being the main villain of the piece with a string of hilarious misses. No wonder the end-of-game celebrations were so muted.



dokool 28 March 2010 at 19:20  

Yeah, guilty as charged. We should have put up a 7-0 score like Kawasaki did against Hiroshima last year (or against us 2.5 years ago, for that matter.) Hell, we could have easily made it 10-0.

It was a farce of a match but it guiltily entertaining. A few of our ultras seemed to think that Murakami pulled out the wrong card when he booked An and just rolled with it.

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