Monday, 11 October 2010

Oita Preview

It's a shame that the Emperor's Cup seems to be becoming a much lower profile tournament this year - at least if the feeble attendance figures are anything to go by - because if Omiya need one thing at the moment it's to have the opportunity to put behind them their own self-inflicted crowd controversy and get the supporters back onside with a decent Cup run. It seems unlikely under the current circumstances that many fans will be persuaded to attend, but the Squirrels can make progress in the competition on holiday Monday, when J2 side Oita Trinita visit Saitama for a Third Round tie.

Jun Suzuki fielded a more or less full-strength team in the previous round against Kamatamare Sanuki, a match notable for the supporters voicing their disapproval of Lee Ho and the proper arrival on the scene of fellow new signing Lee Chun Soo, who scored twice in a comfortable 4-1 win. President Seigo Watanabe must be even less popular with Suzuki than Lee Ho is with the Ardija fans, for having drawn such a large amount of unwelcome attention upon a team with such fragility of confidence: such is the up-and-down nature of Omiya's form that this is still a season that could go either way.

As for the opposition, having been relegated out of J1 at the end of last season under the stormiest of financial clouds, Trinita began 2010 in reasonable form but have slipped further and further down the standings as the year has gone on. Former Squirrel Yusuke Murayama was practically the cash-strapped Turtles' biggest signing of the winter, but he has made just two starts and hasn't featured at all since May; Kohei Tokita went on loan in July and slotted immediately into the first team but has picked up a bizarrely large number of yellow cards, even getting himself sent off in the less-than-glorious circumstances of a 2-0 defeat to Tochigi SC.

Oita haven't won an away league fixture since mid-April and there should be hunger enough among players such as Naoki Ishihara - a player whose season has been seriously blown off course by Suzuki's preference for Chun Soo - for Omiya to get through to the Fourth Round, where they will face either Sanfrecce Hiroshima or J2 promotion contenders Avispa Fukuoka. But in part if not in whole due to Watanabe's apparent disastrous misjudgment, the Trinita game has the makings of one for which the players will simply have to motivate themselves.



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