Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hiroshima Preview

Please let it be true.

Both Yahoo and El Golazo magazine have in their preview articles on Omiya's match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Sunday indicated that the incisive, beleaguered, brilliant, undervalued, impish, misunderstood, newly moustachioed and above all deliriously handsome Naoki Ishihara will be in the Ardija starting line-up. Thereby suggesting that coach Jun Suzuki has seen the error of his well-meaning but in this instance monstrously misguided ways and discarded his erstwhile first choice striker, the speedy yet wayward Lee Chun Soo. Thereby suggesting too that the Sanfrecce defence will at NACK5 at 7pm encounter nothing less than a goalscoring machine, in the outwardly unassuming shape of the Squirrels' number nine.

Lee started the year in explosive style, scoring at Kashima Antlers and Vissel Kobe, but has looked out of luck and out of sorts in recent matches. This culminated in last week's home draw with Kobe, in which the South Korean responded to two more screechingly bad misses with the kind of look on his face that suggested that he knows he couldn't buy a goal at the moment. In a match either team could have won had they had more composure in front of goal, Omiya were left to scramble a late equaliser through Keigo Higashi's deflected cross/shot.

If he were to be in the team from the start against Hiroshima, Ishihara would at least increase the likelihood of the right type of player being on the end of balls played into the danger area. Because neither Lee or Rafael were that type of player against Kobe, meaning that Ardija's winless home run goes on.

But Sanfrecce's defence has been looking decidedly shaky, with nine conceded in the last three games including five in last week's thriller at Gamba Osaka. The Purple Archers have thus taken a tumble from their highest position of second and despite the likely inclusion on Sunday evening of always-dangerous front man Hisato Sato, there would seem to be worse times for Omiya to be playing them. After their cameo appearances against Vissel, the inclusion in the starting XI of Ishihara, Higashi and young defensive star Kim Yong Gwon should raise the standard. For 7pm Sunday is Naoki time. Time for goals. Time for victory.

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