Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Kofu Preview

The Golden Week holiday means a busy time for Japan's footballers and so days after squeaking a 1-0 win at Vissel Kobe, the Squirrels head on Tuesday for Yamanashi for a date with promoted side Ventforet Kofu. Agent Orange has on these pages outlined for us in some considerable detail the extraordinary number of connections between Omiya and VFK but the most important facts impacting upon the game are likely to be that, (a) a team coached by ex-Ardija boss Toshiya Miura is apt to play in a predictable, cautiously counter-attacking way and, (b) if that same team has ex-Ardija defender Daisuke Tomita in the middle of its back four, it's apt to be vulnerable to pace and movement.

A player like Daisuke Watabe, therefore, is likely to be key to Omiya's chances in the game, given that he certainly has speed to trouble opponents more mobile than the ever-popular Tomita. But having been utilised as a wingback against Kobe, if he is given the same role on Tuesday it's important that Watabe times his forward runs correctly and also has cover in case the attack breaks down. J1's joint-top scorer Lee Chun Soo will also look to test the Kofu defence with his pace and the extraordinary shooting ability that he has unleashed upon the J-League this season, in the shape of crashing finishes against Vissel and Kashima Antlers back in March.

At the other end, Ventforet's most obvious threat is Mike Havenaar, who fired in a penalty in the 2-1 loss to Kashiwa Reysol at the weekend. The only other occasion VFK have hit the net so far this year was a close-range volley from a corner by big defender Daniel; concentration at set pieces is likely to be especially important for Ardija, bearing in mind how much Miura teams focus on free kicks and corners as a means of boosting a meagre goals tally. But as Agent Orange commented, if Omiya 2011 have pretensions of being a mid-table side, these are the sorts of games that need to be won. This needs a performance not only from Lee and goalkeeper Takashi Kitano - stand-out Ardija players this season - but also from those yet to make a strong contribution. Rafael, now's the time to step up to the plate.

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