Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Sendai Preview

Perhaps surprisingly, Ardija still have a chance of achieving Agent Orange's seldom-admitted goal for the season: a place in the knock-out stages of his absolute favourite tournament in world football, the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup. Naoki Ishihara's injury-time winner on Saturday against Cerezo Osaka - the striker's fifth goal of 2010 - ensured that Omiya remain in contention to finish in one of the top two places in Group A, which would see the Squirrels through to the Quarter Finals with the other qualifying teams and the four Asian Champions League participants. Agent Orange can be assured that the stakes will only get bigger.

As well as ensuring that Wednesday's last group match at home to Vegalta Sendai still has some meaning, the defeat of Cerezo also boosted the record of incoming coach Jun Suzuki to three wins, one draw and two losses in his first six games. It was always unlikely that Suzuki would introduce significant changes to the Squirrels' playing style ahead of the forthcoming World Cup break, but however they were achieved his results are a considerable improvement on Jang Wae Ryong's one win, three draws and six defeats. Omiya would seem to be sailing for calmer waters with the new man at the helm.

Suzuki needs Cerezo Osaka to do him a favour by beating challengers FC Tokyo if the Squirrels are to have any chance of progressing in the Nabisco Cup, but whatever the result in that game, beating Sendai would round things off very nicely for Ardija. A confidence boost with which to conclude a troubled start to 2010, it would also be some kind of revenge for the niggly 3-1 loss that Jang's team suffered at the hands of the Vegalta back in March. Sendai don't travel especially well, but they haven't conceded in three games. A sixth Ishihara goal could be enough to help Agent Orange achieve his Nabisco Cup 2010 dream.



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