Saturday, 3 December 2011

Kofu Preview

So let's be honest, I've kind of been looking forward to this. The last game of what has been a pretty dismal campaign for Squirrels fans and the last opportunity for Jun Suzuki's team to pull of their, ooooh, second home win of the year. There is a mathematical chance that opponents Ventforet Kofu could have something to play for in their more or less hypothetical chance of avoiding relegation, but the main business of the day is in drawing a line under 2011 and saying goodbye to a few people who have become familiar figures at NACK5.

It's not the time right to review the successes and failures of those people, but suffice it to say that club captain Chikara Fujimoto will be making his last-ever appearance as a Squirrel after seven years at Omiya. Arguably now more of influential figure off the field than on, Fujimoto joined Ardija in January 2005, when the club was preparing for its first ever season in J1. This means that the 34-year-old is along with Hayato Hashimoto one of only two players to have been squad members for the whole time that Omiya have been members of the top division (we should also give a hat-tip at this point to Kofu's returning Squirrels hero Daisuke Tomita - like Fujimoto, a key part of Ardija's J1 history).

Someone else who will be wearing the orange shirt for the final time is Arata Sugiyama, who coincidentally has spent the majority of his career in J2 with Ventforet. Since coming to Ardija a couple of years ago he's picked up more playing time than even he probably would have anticipated, in part due to the idiosyncrasies of Jun Suzuki's selection policy and in part due to injuries to team-mates such as Daisuke Watabe

At the age of 31 Sugiyama will likely try to get a deal with another club before retirement, but Saturday also marks the sad if inevitable departure from the Omiya squad of Taishi Tsukamoto, tragically struck down with cancer in the early stages of his pro career but someone who has been kept on a player's contract for two years while he has been rehabilitating. It's been announced that that contract will not in itself be renewed, but that Tsukamoto will be able to continue his recovery with the active support of the club.

A further news item issued by the club ahead of the Kofu match is the confirmation that, as expected, Jun Suzuki has had his own contract extended for another year. Which is pretty much where I came in with this preview and the idea of actually being happy enough that the season is coming to an end. 

How Omiya can have failed to reach their target of 50 J1 points, won only one home league game (so far!), been knocked out of the Emperor's Cup by a team of university students, been knocked out of the Nabisco Cup at the first opportunity by our local rivals and still take the view that the coach has done enough to get a new deal, well... that's one for another day too. Orange, as AO would perhaps say at this point, Happy, Football.



Michael 3 December 2011 at 11:27  

For me, Suzuki's main failing is not falling short of the 50 point target but the way in which we've done it. I'd have been happy with another 5-6 points as long as we played our most talented eleven in positions that suited them and with some aspirations of occasionally, you know, attacking the opposition. There's no sense of progress under Suzuki. None at all.

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