Tuesday, 18 January 2011

2011 Season Launch!

Ardija held their pre-season launch press conference on Tuesday, with the new signings being introduced to the media, a full squad list issued and the 2011 shirt design revealed. Let's get straight down to business with the squad list, which has been updated on the left-hand side of this page.

The first thing to note is that, while it is not impossible that further additions to the playing ranks will be made before the season starts at the beginning of March, as things stand the Squirrels have only three goalkeepers rather than the J-League norm of four - Daisuke Tada has been released and not yet replaced. Otherwise things are the same as in 2010 for the keepers. Among the defenders, an extremely pleasant surprise is that Taishi Tsukamoto, diagnosed with cancer in his leg a year ago, has been kept on as a squad member and retains his number two shirt. While Tsukamoto's contract has been renewed, he is not actually registered with the J-League as a player - while his recovery seems to be progressing well, Tsuka's current target is to be able to walk normally. It's fantastic to see him still a part of the club.

Elsewhere new signings Daigo Watanabe and Kim Yong Gwon pick up shirt numbers 13 and 20 respectively, Shotaro Kudo as previously announced moves up from the youth team but at the age of seventeen is still on a separate contract. It is interesting to note that returnee Yosuke Kataoka is listed as a defensive player rather than a midfielder, as was previously the case before his unsuccessful year at Kyoto Sanga. Wherever he can do the least amount of damage, that's my thinking.

And speaking of the midfield, this is the part of the squad where the key newcomers are to be found, in Kota Ueda from Jubilo Iwata and former Oita Trinita youngster Keigo Higashi. Ueda takes shirt number 17 , thereby pushing longstanding squad member Hayato Hashimoto to 18, and exciting prospect Higashi is number 8. Another young player, Taisuke Miyazaki moves on to a senior contract, having still been at high school in 2010.

Striker Shintaro Shimizu was still at high school in 2010 as well, but he comes straight into the Omiya squad following graduation from local big guns Seibudai, with whom he made a successful appearance in the recent All-Japan High School Football Tournament. The group of front players is currently only four strong given that Masahiko Ichikawa has gone to Tokyo Verdy on loan and Yoshihito Fujita has been sold to Yokohama FC, so it is possible that there may be another new signing here as well.

Unlike many other clubs Omiya have not issued a slogan for 2011, but instead issued details of a so-called 2020 Vision under a theme that translates as The Future, Together. Taking a slightly less long-term approach, the Sanspo website reported here that Ardija have a target for the season ahead of fifty points, which last year would have meant a ninth-placed finish - eight points but only three positions higher than Omiya's actual final placing. Lastly to move on to the new shirt design, which is for the third season running supplied by American company Under Armour. 2009 and 2010's efforts were popular with the fans despite the high cost and it seems likely that the 2011 version will continue the trend via what some supporters are already labelling the "tyre shirt".



Anonymous,  18 January 2011 at 18:58  

Didn't realise it was you who ended up getting Higashi.

J1 might be a little early for him, but he's got the potential to be very good.

I was thinking Avispa could do worse then trying to pick up him and the 2 young Koreans from Oita.

Anonymous,  19 January 2011 at 12:29  

Hit and Run in 2011 new motto??

Furtho 20 January 2011 at 06:45  

avispafukuoka - There is a lot of debate about how we might use Higashi and a side effect of that is that if he ends up being in the starting line-up on the first day of the season, he may well be under a lot of pressure. That said, his kind of role is definitely somewhere that we're weak, so whether or not he's the finished article it would be churlish not to be pleased that a well-regarded U21 international has come to Omiya.

Daniel - Yeah, this was immediately being referred to as the "tyre shirt". I do like it, as I have with all the Under Armour designs (this is the third), but maybe not quite so much as the previous ones.

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