Saturday, 17 July 2010

Nagoya Preview

Ardija continue their busy second half of July on Saturday with a tough-looking fixture at home to Nagoya Grampus - and beforehand, the focus of press attention has been a player who may not even play. Grampus defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka has been speaking in the media of his current lack of motivation for football, after returning to Japan from the World Cup finals via Brazil, where his father is reported as being in poor health. An absent, or at least absent-minded, Tulio would seem to provide an increased opportunity for the Squirrels to score the goals that have been notable by their absence throughout this season.

Indeed, Omiya are the only team in the top division not yet in double figures in the Goals For column of the league standings. The last time Ardija scored in J1 was during Jun Suzuki's first game in charge at the start of May, when Naoki Ishihara's delicious volley clinched a 2-1 win over Kyoto Sanga. And since then, 311 minutes of football have passed without a goal for the men in orange, most recently in the draw at Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday. A respectable enough result on paper, perhaps, but as things stand coach Suzuki is making no progress in improving Omiya's long-standing problem in front of goal.

Of course, it's hardly fair to criticise Suzuki after such a short period in charge, especially when his points-per-game tally is a step up on that of predecessor Jang Wae Ryong. But if during the World Cup break there were no improvements made to the attacking areas of the squad by way of new signings, the Squirrels need to move up the table by taking fuller advantage of what they already have. Is the new coach a superior motivator than Jang? A better tactician? There are signs that Ardija may be moving in the right direction under the new man. But what this team really need is goals.



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