Saturday, 16 June 2012

Kashiwa Preview

After a three-week break Omiya return to J1 action on Saturday evening with a home Noda Line derby game against reigning champions Kashiwa Reysol. And despite the lack of league matches, those three weeks could turn out to be among the most important of the year for the Squirrels. To the relief of many Ardija fans Jun Suzuki was fired after his team were blown away at Jubilo Iwata and club management moved quickly to appoint a successor in ex-Yokohama Flugels, JEF United, Nagoya Grampus 8 and Vegalta Sendai coach Zdenko Verdenik.

While the veteran Slovenian has a track record in the J-League he has barely worked in club football since leaving Japan eight years ago. As such, and at the age of 63, there must be a question mark over how quickly he can step back into the hurly-burly of the regular league schedule. New assistant Takuya Inoue, who worked with Verdenik at JEF and who has been promoted from the position of Ardija youth coach, is obviously critical. 

So the post-Suzuki era begins against Reysol, a tough debut for Verdenik seeing as Nelsinho's side had before the break in the fixtures started to hit form. Kashiwa started the year badly, but a win at NACK would potentially see them climb in to the top half of the table. Omiya of course are in their more or less customary position immediately outside the relegation zone, with a weak attack and one of the worst defensive records in the division. 

Press reports would suggest that Verdenik's training sessions this week point towards the re-adoption of a 4-4-2 formation abandoned by Suzuki. On paper this looks a reasonable idea - or at least preferable to playing the non-finisher Rafael at the top of a 4-5-1 - although there is an argument which says that Omiya simply don't have a goalscorer in their squad to be selected. But the idea of playing Keigo Higashi and the hardworking but imaginative Jun Kanakubo as wide midfielders seems like a step in the right direction. Let's hope for a good start, for the Squirrels' sake.



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