Monday, 22 November 2021

Vs Cerezo Osaka (away) 20/11/21 J League match 36


Cerezo Osaka 1 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale 

This year’s visit to Cerezo was a bit of a dead rubber but it did provide us with the opportunity to visit their new stadium, literally in the shadow of their old stadium. It’s quite a bit smaller, but at the same time quite a bit better. No running track! Hooray! They do seem to have stiffed the away fans a little though as we were put in a pretty flat stand (can’t find a better antonym for steep, so that will have to do) so the action at the other end of the pitch, whilst closer than usual, was pretty difficult to discern. You’ll be pleased to know that it didn’t stop me questioning offside decisions from my perfect 90 degree angle viewpoint. And they stuck a load of advertising hoardings diagonally between us and the pitch, so sadly we weren’t quite as near to the action as we could have been. But it was definitely more fun than being in another athletics stadium. They also now have a beer truck outside and two craft beers made especially for Cerezo available, which made a nice change from the usual stadium fare. I say this but after sampling the Tokyo Verdy beer (containing kale for colour and DEFINITELY not taste), at their game against Ryukyu yesterday I have now been reminded that just because something is different and new, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is better. A heavy day on Friday enjoying our first Kansai away trip for two years contributed even more than usual to the game passing me by in something of a daze. The loud pumping bass of the PA system felt like a bit of an assault to my broken body, but you know, these things make us realise that we’re still alive, and made me power through the Cerezo beers to get the hair of the dog power going. A few more words on the deadness of the rubber of this match. Of course neither team really had anything to achieve in the league that they hadn’t already, what with Cerezo comfortably mired in mid table and us having won the league already. But there were some things to still play for. Okubo announced his upcoming retirement at the end of the season before the match so we were allowed to share in the experience of him playing against us for the last time. Certainly it felt a lot more positive than when he was turning out for FC Tokyo against us. We put up a banner encouraging him to get to 200 J League goals (presumably after this game). However, he’s got a lot to do in the next two games (probably from the bench) to reach that target, but we can now wholeheartedly cheer him on. And it was nice that we got a chance to say goodbye to him at the end of the game with a good old clap along with Cerezo’s Okubo song and then with our Okubo song which they generously played! Very nice of them. I will double down on this compliment by saying that they gave a nice reception for both Yamamura and Tanno and even clapped us for taking the title. Can’t wait for YFM to do that in the last game of the season… But yeah, thank you Cerezo and good luck for 9 goals in the next two games Yoshito. I guess Cerezo are quite keen to finish above Gamba. If you can’t win the league or qualify for the poisoned chalice that is the ACL, your next aim has to be putting one over on your neighbours I guess. I’m sure Gamba will be equally motivated in their next game against us to do the same. And for us, we have the ongoing aims to get as many points and as many goals as physically possible that Oniki seems to be pursuing. I’m sure it’s not just me who really wants to score the most goals in the league and I suspect Oniki has his eye on it. We need to get four more than YFM in the next two games which sounds like a tough ask, but we are playing them in the final game which affects the odds slightly perhaps. Also Damiao is now one goal behind Daizen Maeda in the golden boot race. I really want him to win that and I think he’d really deserve it if he did. So basically it was once again the strongest possible team put out by Oniki. I really feel for the players who’d been on international duty who’d put in some serious air miles in the last ten days. Oh, and Yamane even had to play some football in two glorious 1-0 wins against the Asian football powerhouses of Vietnam and Oman. Praise the lord that there is a competent manager in charge of the Japan national team who can get those kind of dazzling performances and results against all the odds. Given how much I’ve written already about things that are only tangentially about the match, it’s probably a good thing that my memory of the game is hazy, otherwise this blog post will go on forever. With that in mind, let’s do a little bit about the match.



 
Hmmmm, what happened again? I have limited notes but will do my best with them. If I recall correctly this wasn’t an amazing game for us but amazingly we took our chances! With us recently apparently playing more of our matches having neglected to take the handbrake off and really grinding out results, it was something of a surprise to see us scoring freely. And long may that continue! Damiao’s two goals were from quite similar positions and were both nicely taken. The first came with the obligatory VAR delay, but knowing that it was Nishimura reffing, I felt quite confident that his ‘respect my authority’ attitude would see us get the goal. He does always like to grab a bit of attention though with a surprise or two though, so there were some doubts. After the goal it was nice to see the players celebrate with Jesiel’s shirt. He was the only player missing in what we can now be pretty sure is Oniki’s preferred 11, having flown back to Brazil to get his serious Kengo-like injury treated. Looks like we won’t be seeing him for quite some time… Damiao’s second came from the diminutive Tachibanada smashing his way through the Cerezo midfield with the ball apparently glued to his boot. Great work again from him. It was nice to see Marcinho get a goal, especially after he was through and got taken out just as he was about to shoot. Ridiculously bad decision from Nishimura I confidently said from my seat, later slightly amending my opinion to ridiculously good save. It might be tough being a ref, but trust me, nowhere near as tough as it is being an ignorant bore in the stands. And the final one came from Miyagi after a great bit of work from Tono. Perhaps Damiao wasn’t so happy that he didn’t get the ball, but it was a lovely cross and a lovely finish. This might all make it sound like it was quite one-sided, but it wasn’t really. Cerezo had a lot of good chances and were let down by terrible finishing on a few occasions and stopped by great goalkeeping on a few other occasions. in the end, the stats were fairly even and whilst I am delighted it was 4-1, it didn’t really feel like a 4-1, which in turn makes the fact that it was 4-1 even more delightful perhaps. Equally delightful was Miyagi’s chicken dance goal celebration. Don’t know if it’s going to be a regular thing, but I liked the surprise of it and it would go nicely with Wakizaka’s finger thing as another goal or celebration pose. One last thing, it seems like we’re allowed to twirl towels again now, which is nice and one step closer to being able to sing once more, I guess. I think these things are decided on a stadium by stadium basis though, so maybe we won’t be able to do that on Saturday at home against Gamba. 




 
Next up… oh, I just mentioned that. Our last home league game of a season which is fast coming to an end. Hopefully we can keep the goals coming as Damiao and us as a team need plenty to keep a few hopes alive. Go Frontale!
 
Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 83')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for NOBORIZATO 73')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 19. TONO Daiya (on for WAKIZAKA 80')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 73')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for HATATE 83')
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match

 
Tachibanada’s dribble was amazing, Damiao’s finishes lovely, but the reason this was 4-1 and not 4-3 or 4-4 was down to…
 
Sung-Ryong JUNG - Some saves which looked great at the time but only improved when I saw them on the highlights. And no way he could have done anything about the goal. Bravo!

 

Goals
 
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 5' 0-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 40' 0-2
MARCINHO (Frontale) 49' 0-3
OKUNO (Cerezo) 80' 1-3
MIYAGI (Frontale) 85' 1-4

Highlights
 

Monday, 8 November 2021

Vs Sagan Tosu (away) 7/11/21 J League match 35


Sagan Tosu 3 - 1 Kawasaki Frontale

After the elation of somewhat surprisingly winning the league last Wednesday we gamely trooped off to Kyushu to enjoy what is usually my favourite away game of the season. Given that we got a hammering in this game, I probably wouldn’t say it was my favourite this year, but to be honest it was still quite a lot of fun considering. Undoubtedly, this is down to the wonderful assortment of alcohol available in the stadium. Last year I was aiming for the Nihonshu, but finding none available switched instead to the Shochu. This year I imagined the situation was the same and started on the Shochu. My second Shochu was actually a Nihonshu but in order not to disappoint the person serving I gamely persevered with it and explained that I know nothing about these kind of things. Perhaps I looked a bit stupid, but you know, if the cap fits… I know there’s a rhyme about which order you should drink wine and beer in order to avoid any kind of problems. I don’t know if there is the same thing for Shochu and Nihonshu. If there is, it would probably be pretty difficult to remember anyway as the two words rhyme. I’m not sure if the order I drank them in was the correct one or a big mistake, but whichever way you look at it, I had a surprisingly good time considering how much we stank up the place in the first half. Our rotten first half also gave me an opportunity to get to the bar a bit early and avoid the queue. Seems like perhaps both the team and I are already proverbially on the beach. I guess you’ll be able to decide for yourself about me when you’ve read this post but I’d say it hasn’t started particularly promisingly so far. Of course, we always have a dodgy game after sealing the title… or not really actually. I thought this probably was the case but on seeing a tweet with the ‘evidence’, realised that it really isn’t the case. Including this year, in the three times in the last five years that we’ve had a game after winning the title our record is won one, drawn one, lost one, this year being the loss. Perhaps though the fact that we won the title only four days before this game meant that there was an extra level or metaphorical and perhaps literal hangover involved. Certainly I feel like I could do with a relatively quiet week when it comes to alcohol consumption. No Frontale game should help somewhat with that. Although Taniguchi, Hatate and Yamane won’t get that luxury as they will be with the national team. Perhaps they still will have a week without a game though, as knowing Moriyasu they will probably just be sitting on the bench.

 
Or perhaps Hatate will play at left back… With Celtic fan football experts chiming in on Twitter regarding Hatate being a good option to solve their left back problem, Oniki played a masterstroke to quieten down any interest and started him at left back. He had a bit of a nightmare. I don’t want to point fingers but I have moaned all year about him not being a good option there in my opinion and it’s telling that the first two goals both came from action in that area. Before this match we had a great record of not conceding very often. We undid this quite a lot in this game, conceding three for the first time this year in the league. As the goals continued to be gifted I was slightly worried we might be en route to an FC Tokyo-ing. Our Tamagawa rivals got a bit of pasting at the hands of our other derby rivals the day before. It’s a bit difficult to know what to hope for in a game between the teams who are perhaps your two biggest rivals. It’s fair to say that a 8-0 victory is not one of the top options. Although it would have been quite funny if that was the scoreline the other way round though… Congratulations to YFM who are now one point away from securing their second second place finish in the league in the last 10 years. Not sure what happened in 2019 as I can’t find a league table from that season. In a way, it might actually be fun to lose all of our remaining games to give YFM a bit of the Jim Bowen Bullseye, ‘let’s have a look at what you could’ve won’. That would mean losing to them in the final game though, and I’m very much not in favour of that. It would be nice if we could get some kind of form back for our remaining fixtures, especially as we still have the Emperor’s Cup to play for. If we play like we did in this game though we might as well pack up now though.
 


The first half was horrifically one sided in Sagan Tosu’s favour. Full credit to them, and no credit to us. We were a mess at the back and more often than not couldn’t even get out of our own half. But, like I’ve said already, our season’s work is already done in the league so I can’t blame the players for having an off day. Oniki did his big rotation thing again with Kurumaya and Yamamura at centre back, Hatate at left back, Oshima getting a start in midfield and Kobayashi and Tono up front. Somewhat surprisingly, Marcinho continued on the left up front with Miyagi on the bench, which makes the future of Hasegawa look even more of a foregone conclusion. Still no sign of Joao Schmidt…. Given how much of a run around Hatate was being given, I was a bit surprised to see Wakizaka taken off at half time and Hatate moved into midfield. Well, surprised that Hatate stayed on, but then again perhaps it was a good idea to try and rebuild some of his destroyed confidence. Surprise surprise, he did much better in midfield, and the second half was quite different. But we were still a bit rubbish and I think only got our first shot on target in the 85th minute. We did really turn up the pressure after this and I think that over half of our shots and all of our shots on target came from the 85th minute onwards. But it was a case of too little too late by this stage. There was a lot of injury time after Jesiel came on for Oshima, causing another shuffle of the formation, and then went off injured not long afterwards after landing hard right on his knee. It looked like a bad injury to be honest and I’d be surprised if we see him again this season. But then again, we have had some amazing comebacks from what looked like bad injuries already this year, so who knows? His replacement was Miyagi causing another tactical switch. So plenty of shifting around of players, (Kurumaya for example went from centre back to left wing and then back to centre back, not once even having a go at left back), perhaps creating quite a bit of confusion and ended up with nothing really coming off. We did score in the 91st minute but it was from a massive scramble and I think most people didn’t even realize it had gone in. I certainly didn’t until I saw them getting ready for the restart. I’m pleased that Damiao got another goal, but it looks like he’s not now going to be able to catch Daizen Maeda in the golden boot race this year. 


 
Even though I can’t honestly say I’m that upset about losing this game, I was quite upset by the ref Imamura, who looking back on previous posts, seems to usually be not so bad. On this occasion he gave them a pretty soft penalty (Iemoto on VAR wasn’t much help to us unsurprisingly) and waved away a few for us that I thought we could have had a shout for, (all were right in front of us, so for once I think I probably had a semi-decent view). I’m also not very happy about him calling and ending the drinks break whilst all of our players were crowded round a seriously injured team mate. It’s good to have something to moan about, and maybe we could have got back into the game if he hadn’t given their penalty, but to be honest the damage was done at 2-0 with us looking hopeless anyway, and all we could probably have hoped for was a massive shift in fortunes and us pulling off an unlikely draw given how lacklustre we were till then. Also, it’s always nice to moan a bit about an ex YFM player, so even though Tosu were winning 3-0 an we looked awful, the Tosu keeper still felt the need to dither about which ball boy to get the ball from and then stop and feel his hamstring a little before pondering and procrastinating over every goal kick. It was very nice of them to give us a guard of honor before the match though. Very classy and I’m happy for them to have the three points in return. I’m not sure if it was connected to the match, but they also seemed to be occasionally running a steam train up and down the tracks near the ‘eki’, which is ‘mae’ the Ekimae Stadium. I saw it once and heard it numerous other times. Perhaps it was meant to symbolise YFM. Noisy and attention grabbing but ultimately going absolutely nowhere this year. We still have the Emperor’s Cup to think about, but they now can only look forward to trying to beat us on the final day of their season. Naturally, I hope they fail miserably in this. But unfortunately, they do look like they’re going to score the most goals in the league this year. Thanks a lot FC Tokyo!

So, after refuting the evidence of the existence of ‘the game after the title curse’, I would instead like to suggest a new curse. We now have the ‘never win in Kyushu’ curse. This one is also slightly undermined by us winning in Oita this year, but we did fail to take the title there last year when they beat us, Sagan Tosu were the only team we didn’t beat at all last year, and both Avispa and Tosu have beaten us this year. It’s hard to get angry about this curse though as Kyushu away games are a lot of fun normally and this year COVID spared us from being able to attend our other defeat of 2021 so far, which from watching on DAZN seemed to be a lot more irritating game than this one was. It looks like J1 might be losing Oita next year so we’ll just be left with the two Kyushu teams who’ve beaten us…. Oh well. Next up, ten days or so off until we’re away to Cerezo Osaka the weekend after next. They do like to beat us too but haven’t done recently. Here’s hoping we’re a bit less out of character and back to playing how we know we can. Go Frontale!

Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 19. TONO Daiya
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu
FW 23. MARCINHO

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
DF 4. JESIEL (on for OSHIMA 63')
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO (on for MARCINHO 55')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for JESIEL 71')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for TONO 55')
 
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match


Second loss of the season and a truly dreadful first half performance backed up with a second half that promised a little but couldn’t deliver anything more than a very little means it has to go in a three way joint decision to….

THE STEAM TRAIN, THE SHOCHU and THE NIHONSHU - if the team plays badly and loses but you still kind of have a nice time you’ve got to thank the parts of the day that distracted from what was happening on the pitch. TOOT TOOT! SUP SUP!
 
Goals
 
IWASAKI (Tosu) 3' 1-0 
SAKAI (Tosu) 20' 2-0
KOYAMATSU (Tosu) 32' 3-0 PEN
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 90+1' 3-1

Highlights
 

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Vs Urawa Reds (home) 3/11/21 J League match 34


Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 1 Urawa Reds 

Well that happened a bit quicker than we might have been expecting. I was hoping that we would be able to celebrate winning a fourth title in five years this weekend away at Sagan Tosu, but YFM and Gamba had other ideas. Definitely it’s better for lots of people to win the title at a home game, but ever the elitist, I was hoping we’d do it at my favourite away game. Not saying I’d rather we waited till then though. Even though we have a massive points lead over YFM and are going at a similar pace to last season as far as points per game goes, things certainly haven’t been feeling massively comfortable, particularly when we had a mid season meltdown. If YFM had beaten Gamba the gap would have still been pretty big, given that we conceded another late goal against Urawa, but perhaps some doubts would have started setting in. So definitely better to get it done at the first time of asking instead of having an away at Oita kind of disappointment as we did in 2020. And now we can all just enjoy the various types of alcohol on offer at the Ekimae stadium and not have to worry about the game too much. Perhaps in a somewhat similar way to our first league title, I spent most of the second half checking the score in a different game rather than actually paying attention to what was going on in front of me. So the details in this post will be vague and the actual information lacking once again. I’m sure you’d expect nothing less from me. We’ll do this with a brief paragraph about what I can remember about the game, one on the title, a big dump of photos and then move on to Saga.
 

Like I said above, I can’t remember much about the match. Not saying it was a boring match, what with there being 30 shots shared pretty equally between the two teams. Only seven of them were on target though so perhaps that tells a different story. And both goals were pretty scrappy affairs. This certainly felt more like one of our late season ‘get the job done’ performances. In recent weeks we’ve managed to generally get in to a nice habit of winning without having to dazzle. It certainly feels quite different from how we started the season, but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me. We had a bit more possession than Urawa but once again for the most part this was pretty useless possession. The only decent chances I can really remember were a couple at the end of the match, one for Kobayashi and one for Oshima, where it seemed like the players thought we needed a win and were really going for it. A draw was probably a fair result though and it probably suited both teams in the end as it still keeps Urawa’s ACL hopes alive. The highlight for me in this game was probably Marcinho, who now seems to be adding a lot of goalkeeper and defender hassling pressing to his game. Him and Damiao were really giving the Urawa backline some headaches and we won the ball back a lot from wayward hoofs (hooves?…) out of defence. But we didn’t turn them into decent chances. Urawa look like they might be a team to reckon with next year but are not quite there yet. Plenty of times a player, and it was often Koizumi, would do a lovely turn and get away from us only to immediately lose the ball with a wayward pass. I know they really want to get into the ACL, as evidenced by the big ASIA display from their fans before the game (I guess this is what it meant, rather than being the third to last one of a series of tifos that spell out their stadiums address. The next two will be THE EARTH and THE UNIVERSE). One of their other tifos (is this the right word? It seems like I’m going with it anyway), was slightly ruined by another flag that was getting in the way and rendered their club name UBAWA to those whose eyesight is not the sharpest and were at the right angle.
 
 
Apparently they picked up their rubbish on the way out of the stadium too. I would say that this is slightly undermined by the fact that Frontale fans take their own rubbish with them rather than just relying on the nicer element of their fanbase to come and pick up what the meatheads have thrown on the floor and left. Of course you knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist a bit of Urawa baiting after wafting some faint praise their way. Oh and of course, like Kashima, they were honour bound to break their silence when it came to us playing our intro song on the PA. They started up just as the Kawasaki City song started and stopped pretty much afterwards. Once again, quite childish and I’m not sure what purpose it is supposed to achieve other than vaguely irritating the opposition fans. I’m sure the players don’t care. Likewise, the out of time random drumming with potentially the intention of putting us off as we attack was quite amusing. It would be funny to imagine that a professional footballer running towards goal would find themselves distracted by the arrthymic nature of the opposition fans percussion. ‘I was going to score, but can’t possibly concentrate with that out of time banging going on! Damn!’



So we did it. Four titles in five years which to be honest now makes the total disaster of a season a couple of years ago feel even more like a totally wasted opportunity. Many people thought that we have had it sewn up for a long time but it didn’t feel completely comfortable. Whether the departure of Postecoglou made any difference we’ll never know. Certainly Marinos fans would say so, judging by the recent increasing popularity of the #muscatout hashtag. I think that the former manager’s lovers do seem to forget that even with him at the wheel (the ship’s wheel... does that metaphor still work? Maybe..), they did go through some dodgy spells. It seems that it is almost blasphemy to say that he is anything other than the saviour of all football in the world ever so I’m sure plenty of people will disagree. Nice 0-0 draw with Livingstone for Celtic in their last match. I would have thought being at a club with massive spending power compared to all but one of the other teams in the league (who happen to be ahead of them in the league table, so basically they are bottom of a two team league), would have suited his style of buying a new player every time something doesn’t go his way. This is fast turning into a YFM bashing section rather than a Frontale title celebration section. I’m guessing that YFM fans probably won’t read this in much the same way that I didn’t search out blog posts written about them winning the league in 2019. If they are though, they might well interpret all this as an expression of relief after worrying about them catching up with us. They are free to do so if they want. But, I dunno, I don’t really buy the fact that Muscat has whistled the living daylights out of their wonderful team that was built by ‘the boss’ (not Bruce Springsteen on this occasion), but I might start using the #muscatin hashtag just in case. Hatate seemed quite emotional on winning the title which some have interpreted as a sign of his impending departure. It wouldn’t be a massive surprise I guess. Equally, I wonder if Tachibanada and Wakizaka have been attracting some attention. They haven’t been playing for the national team much though so perhaps that keeps them under the radar. Hopefully though we have some more players coming through to replace anyone who leaves. And to be honest there are plenty who have been completely absent recently anyway who’d probably like to have a go. Whether we will see Hasegawa again in a Frontale shirt, I’m not sure. It seems that Oniki doesn’t rate him anymore and it’s sad but probably fair enough as he has never quite been able to recapture the form he was in at the start of last season before he got injured. Of course, it’s difficult to think about what might happen next season without knowing who will be going and who will be staying. I think we’d all love to win the league again, do the three-peat and move one league title ahead of YFM. We also have unfinished business in the ACL. Well, actually that’s not true. It was once again finished business much quicker than we might have hoped. But more about that in a season round up post coming after we’re all done. We still have four games left and a possible points total of 97 to chase. And it would be nice to score the most and concede the least too if we’re being greedy. Oniki certainly likes to go for these kind of targets so I wouldn’t be surprised if we still don’t see much rotation for the rest of the season. Oh, and of course, there’s the Emperor’s Cup semi-final against Oita too. I imagine quite a few clubs in the race for the ACL would quite like to see us win the Emperor’s Cup now to give an extra spot to the league. At least that’s how I think it works. Anyway, let’s wrap this up.

Next up, as I said above, Sagan Tosu away on Sunday. Then a couple of weeks off for us, (but not for Taniguchi, Hatate and Yamane who’ve been picked for the national team), before we make the trip away to Cerezo in the league. It’s a new stadium to tick off and also the first time we’ve been allowed to go to an away game in Kansai for a long time! Looking forward to it. Well done to all the players and (keep) Go(ing) Frontale!

 






 
Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 75')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 75')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MARCINHO 75')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for TACHIBANADA 90+1')
FW 19. TONO Daiya
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 86')
 
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match


I really want to go maximum troll and give this to Kevin Muscat for his overall contributions this season but deep down I don’t think he deserves it by himself so maybe it could go to the whole YFM team for shitting the bed at enjoyably regular intervals. Some would also say that maybe we should give it to Gamba Osaka for wrapping the league up for us. Both would be fun to do but instead I’ll do the usual end of season cop out that was also done in the stadium and give it to…

THE WHOLE SQUAD - nice work fellers! Six more wins and loads more goals scored and few conceded would be a lovely way to finish of 2021, wouldn’t it?
 
Goals
 
JESIEL (Frontale) 33' 1-0 
SAKAI (Urawa) 89' 1-1

Highlights
 

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Vs Kashima Antlers (home) 27/10/21 Emperor's Cup Quarter Final


Kawasaki Frontale 3 - 1 Kashima Antlers

Another fun night at Todoroki, particularly as we seem to have found our shooting boots again. You could say we were a bit fortunate with some of the goals, but that doesn’t take away from this being a genuinely joyous evening of football, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a while. Of course it always helps if the opposition are unlikeable. In recent times it seems that YFM have probably become most Frontale fans’ most detestable team (if they weren’t already before). But Kashima came and left Todoroki making a big challenge to take that title for themselves. Which lets be honest is the only title they have any chance of taking this year! ZING! Whilst our rivalry with YFM has a local edge topped up by some quite unlikeable individuals, the envy and resentment that came from them stopping our three consecutive league titles and an irritation coming from the fact that they seem to keep pulling some very flukey results out when they least deserve them, it’s nice to get back to hating a team just because they seem like there are scumbags involved in it from top to bottom. Their fans worked themselves up for the match by doing the same funereal hand clap rhythm for about 20 minutes as the players warmed up, as if they had some foresight on what kind of performance their team were going to put in. They took a break for some more spontaneous applause as their players were introduced and then proceeded to restart it as ours were, in an attempt to drown out our applause. As soon as our announcement was finished they stopped so we can be pretty sure it was intentional. I guess this is all another manifestation of the ‘Spirit of Zico’ that they seem so proud of. I noticed a flag that is maybe new that said ‘BELIEVE KENTO’. I don’t know what Kento said and why people might be doubting him, but if he said ‘Kashima are a horrible team from an industry blasted absolute wilderness who will win nothing this year’ I think we can all believe him now. This long preamble to an Emperor’s Cup game blog post is somewhat strange as I’ve already written a lot but haven’t yet mentioned the dogshit music that gets played on these occasions. In order to keep things relevant and exciting it seems that the JFA has selected a panel of besuited middle- to old-aged men locked in a sterile office with a whiteboard and a google search window open on cheap rights-free tunes and no discernible interest in music as their DJs for the occasion. On the white board we have the following YOUTH! DANCE MUSIC! ROCK GUITARS! EPIC! FRESH! and from these starting points they managed to assemble a playlist which swerved erratically from one horrible song to another. Painfully dasai ‘urban’ to horrendous fusion funk, synth pop backing track with a three minute cock rock guitar solo and then an AI approximation of endlessly looping 90’s Euro house which just kept going round and round apparently in an effort to really build the atmosphere. I am a self acknowledged music snob so of course I wasn’t going to like it whatever it was, but the Emperor’s Cup seems to really plumb new depths with its selections. The announcements are weird too. I guess the JFA wants to stamp its authority on the competition, which is why all the normal established conventions are removed and replaced with a new set that never seem to work very well. Who needs QR code tickets when you can use paper ones? Get your own PR announcers in, preferably some who have never heard of any of the players before and hand them the team line ups one kanji at a time just as they are due to be read out for maximum fluffability. Number 10 - Oshima Ryuta! That’s what it sounded like to me anyway. I guess you can’t deny that they really do make these games stand out from the league matches, so if that’s their intention, they’re doing the right thing! Lots of moaning so far which is weird as it was a really fun evening. However, I think this kind of moaning is the type that can only come from having a hell of a lot of fun and deciding to be a bit cheeky. Let’s have a paragraph of non-moaning to talk about us and then go back to some more hopefully humorous negativity about them and the officials!

 
We went with the same starting line up and almost the same bench as last time, which is probably not a surprise. I guess we can say that this is Oniki’s best 11 at the moment. Still missing are Hasegawa who now seems destined to depart, (unless he’s secretly injured. I don’t think he is though), and Joao Schmidt who seems to now be getting the Neto treatment. You can’t deny that Tachibanada has done a great job in the anchor role, but you would have thought Schmidt would at least warrant a place on the bench. He is not injured so the mystery deepens. Perhaps Oniki would love to rotate a bit more, but he has his favourite 11 and never seems to get round to making that many changes as recently he always has an important game or a record points total to chase. I suspect the reliance on the same core of players lead to our mid season slump which to be honest had been coming for a while before it actually reared its head. Perhaps if we’d rotated a bit more we might have won the league already and we might still be in the ACL. Or perhaps we’d be out of the ACL and in a worse situation in the league. The recent little breaks in this year’s packed schedule have clearly done the team good though as we’re on a lovely winning run at the moment. Oniki seems to not be sure what to do when it comes to subbing Damiao though. In this game Chinen replaced him which was something of a shock for Kobayashi fans but probably makes sense from a like for like point of view. But then he seems to feel bad about playing Kobayashi on the right, so after briefly doing that we switched to a 4-4-2, which let’s be honest, never really seems to work and didn’t really again in this match. But by that stage it didn’t really matter anyway. Perhaps Oniki was keen to get Yamamura on, who almost always seems to score against his old team (and doesn’t celebrate, which is something many people hate, but I really like). It wasn’t to be on this occasion, but we’d already put three in by that stage so it didn’t really matter. Once again it seemed like a lot was going through Marcinho, which I guess makes sense as he’s the dribbler in the team and Ienaga on the other side… isn’t usually actually on the other side and instead just wanders where he fancies. Even if it wasn’t a massive success in the first half, the balls down the left to him were giving Kashima all sorts of problems and were a lot of fun to watch. Hopefully as he plays more games Marcinho will become even more integrated in the way we play and the times when an attack peters out going through him will become less frequent. I haven’t seen him really unleash a decent shot yet. I typed this just before he ‘scored’ with a header. At the time it looked like an own goal to me. The replays didn’t make things much clearer but Marcinho got credited with it. This was changed in the second half when it was amended to OWN GOAL, which I’d like to say vindicates my initial thoughts, but to be honest watching replays back I’m still not sure what happened. I just would have thought he would have celebrated a bit more if he’d got his head on it. And also the defender was much bigger than him and had jumped higher. Our second goal was another curious one. After some great work from Marcinho which didn’t peter out he passed the ball to Wakizaka who smashed it home. How we celebrated another Wakizaka goal! And how we giggled as on the third replay it became clear that the shot had bounced off a totally unaware Hatate’s head, wrong-footing the keeper. Very amusing! When Wakizaka smashed home the third I wondered if on the last replay we’d once again see it bounce off some part of Hatate but this time it was just a lovely strike. Nice! In general, I’d say that we were by far the better team for the first hour but couldn’t quite make clear enough chances. When we were three up we were having a lot of fun. Damiao tried an overhead clearance in the middle of the pitch and also one of those flick the ball over your head from behind you things. Neither worked but both were fun. We took a free kick 100% sideways, booting the ball straight across the pitch from one side to the other and Ienaga killed the ball dead without even seeming to pay any attention to what he was doing. He seemed to be really enjoying himself. Well, up until he got booked slightly dubiously and then seemed to get a bit pissed off. Oniki did the right thing by subbing him I think. The last third of the match we took our foot off the gas a bit and ended up hanging on a bit towards the end. The 4-4-2 seemed to trash our tactics slightly and it all got a bit crazy. Thankfully we had Sung-Ryong to calm things down by saving the ball boys some effort and going to collect wayward shots himself and then slowly, very slowly coming back to take his goal kick. I enjoyed that quite a lot, full in the knowledge that if it were the opposition doing it, I would be furious. We had a few decent opportunities in this period, but Kashima did too and actually had quite a few more than us. Whether this was to do with us shutting up shop or them getting better I don’t really know. But certainly we weren’t helped by the ref. I’ll talk about Kashima and the official in this next paragraph which I’ll unofficially title ‘toerags’.

 
This was a real game of two halves. In the first half the linesmen were absolutely awful, miles behind the action and flagging completely randomly. In the second, the ref Murakami, the silver fox Rod Stewart impersonator of J League refs, decided he’d grab back some attention that he thought his hairdo had been denied. FC Tokyo fans will remember Murakami as the ref who didn’t send off Nara when he booted one of their players in the head, a decision which obviously was 100% correct… In this match he was similarly card shy. And actually not only card shy. I think he became quite whistle demure too. (I toyed with ‘whistle wary’ here, which is a lot more satisfying alliteratively, but I felt didn’t quite work). Kashima started the game pretty clueless going forward, which is an unusual tactical game plan, but a very welcome one. Finding themselves three nil down, the plan changed. The new plan involved pulling faces that looked like they were about to burst out grizzling, but pairing this infant demeanour with a rapidly increasing desire to seriously injure our players. I can’t remember seeing a dirtier team recently. It was all petulant kicking and given the fragile nature of some of our guys I think we were seriously lucky to come away with no injuries. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that I dislike them more than the officials. Murakami had readjusted his tolerance so wildly that only the most brutal fouls got even a free kick, let alone a card. Kurumaya was cleaned out on the wing, Marcinho seemed to get elbowed. Kobayashi was clattered and lost the ball which lead to their goal. It’s not often that I say that I wish we had VAR, but I’m pretty sure that goal would have been ruled out for the ref making an obvious mistake missing that foul. And then most bafflingly as Chinen raced through near the end of the game with no one ahead of him and two players chasing and got absolutely clattered before he got to the box Murakami didn’t consider it a DOGSO and just gave a yellow. I don’t think Judge Replay talks about Emperor’s Cup games and I’d say that Murakami must be quite pleased about this as they could probably do a whole episode on his uselessness. But then again I would say that, wouldn’t I? Oniki was also not very happy with Murakami, talking to him for a long time at the end of the game as the officials tried to leave the pitch. The only possible explanation I can come up with for some of his decisions would be that he had ‘3-1 Frontale win’ in the JFA headquarters sweepstake and was determined to get that result in whatever way he could. And here we wrap things up nicely by returning to the dirge rhythm still being beaten out by the Kashima drummers. They had one of those message flags saying something about a title but it seems to be unreadable from my photo. I wonder if after they had written ‘タイトル’ they just had a hissy fit like their players would do in this game and just splattered paint everywhere. Or did it actually say ‘All our hopes of a title this season are gone’? And the slow dull thud of the drums was for the funeral march of their 2021 hopes and expectations, a memento mori of their remaining games being pointless and  just taking us all one step closer to a miserable death. Lovely!
 

Next up Urawa at home next Wednesday lunchtime. We can win the league title if we win and YFM don’t. Basically, four points will secure things even if YFM win all their remaining games. If we don’t get the job done on Wednesday, things will move on to Sagan Tosu away on Sunday. This is always one of my favourite away trips of the season, but we should remember what happened the last time we went to Kyushu hoping to wrap up the league. Oita away… never forget. Hopefully this wonderful carnival of a game and fantastic result against some pantomime villains will give us a nice boost for the rest of the season. Go Frontale!


Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro (Yellow card 62')
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 67')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for IENAGA 75')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for MARCINHO 67')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 67')
FW 19. TONO Daiya
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 78')
 
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match


Last time I went with the usually unheralded by me Taniguchi, and today I’ll perhaps surprise again. Tachibanada once again did a great job and was in the running I thought. Ienaga also had a lot of fun and Hatate was tireless. However, I’m going to give it to…

WAKIZAKA Yasuto - was cruelly denied a goal by Hatate knowing nothing about it but getting his bonce in the way but then managed to smash one home for himself afterwards. Not sure you can call a shot smacking one of your now players in the head an assist, but if you can, one goal and one assist is good enough for me to give it to him on this occasion.
 
 
Goals
 
OWN GOAL (Kashima) 32' 1-0
HATATE (Frontale) 48' 2-0 
WAKIZAKA (Frontale) 51' 3-0 
ARAKI (Kashima) 90' 3-1
 

Highlights
 

Monday, 25 October 2021

Vs Shimizu S Pulse (home) 24/10/21 J League match 33


Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 Shimizu S Pulse

Everything is just wonderful! Well, kind of. After a few weeks off we were all rested up and raring to go and put in a magnificent performance… or maybe not. Well, perhaps we were ready and raring but had decided to save it for a later date. In the same way that we didn’t exactly sparkle on the pitch, this blog post will see me fail to sparkle as thanks to a bit of a hangover, my note taking and spectating weren’t at their premium level either. But both the team and I managed to get the job done. If you consider this post worthy of that description. Shimizu are a team who are in a bit of trouble, but the same can be said about quite a lot of teams at the moment. The four relegation places have added a bit of bite to the bottom half this year. I wish the same could be said about the top half of J2 which, due to a lack of playoffs seems to have become pretty unexciting for a lot of teams who are now just going through the motions really. Although it wouldn’t have been very aesthetically pleasing, I can’t see why we couldn’t have had the playoffs in J2 this year and gone with a 19 team J1 next year with four going down again and then got back to the leagues desired number of teams the year after. Anyway, this is all just meandering without actually getting to the point, perhaps to cover up how little I have to say in this post. So I’d better just get on with it and stop wasting your time. Not going to bother with bullet points today as there’s not much to say about anything. 
 

A few words about the team selection. Oshima is back from injury! It could be very useful timing for us. He got a few minutes in this game and it was nice to see him around again. It definitely gives confidence to the less experienced players around him. Still not back are Hasegawa, who I’d say seems pretty likely to leave at the end of the season, and Joao Schmidt, whose absence is a bit of a mystery. As both of them continue to be absent I can’t stop thinking about them missing penalties in the ACL. Either they are traumatised by this or Oniki is angry about this. There is a third possibility that it’s unconnected I suppose, but in contrast to my lack of belief in conspiracy theories when it comes to some major political or public health issues, I quite enjoy chewing them over when it comes to football. I’ll just leave this hanging here unresolved… Damiao’s contract is up soon and he has stated he wants to stay in Japan. I guess this is good and bad news as you might have thought he’d say he wants to stay at Frontale if that was his intention. I’m sure he can get a lot more money elsewhere and maybe that is the issue. Perhaps he’s using vagueness to aid the negotiations, perhaps he’s already decided his future and wants to announce it at a later date. Who knows? There were a lot more Brazilian flags in the stadium on Sunday though and if he was in any doubt as to how much we love him, he won’t be now. He celebrated our celebration of him by scoring one of his trademark backheel goals. We haven’t seen much overhead action recently, but it’s good to see his other favourite shooting style is still around. The goal came from some nice work from Marcinho down the left. I think he’s getting better and better, game by game. I felt he could have won a penalty early on in the game but in this match we were destined to get absolutely nothing from the ref. The ref was Iida, who I have just realised looks a lot like a scratchily animated character from a children’s TV show from my youth (which I think was Spanish in origin) but I can’t put my finger on exactly who or what show it was. Please feel reassured that even if I could, the reference would be so niche that to the 99.9% of the people who wouldn’t have heard of the character the comparison would be as meaningless as me not being able to work out who I’m thinking of. Iida gave us nothing apart from a couple of yellow cards. I’m not saying he favoured Shimizu, it’s just that he was wildly inconsistent as far as I’m concerned, particularly when it came to dishing out the cards. Tachibanada’s yellow seemed particularly ridiculous as after watching it back about ten times I can’t even work out when or where he touched Kololli. I think Kololli is similarly unsure as after three or four barrel rolls clutching his ankle he started holding his head for the final few anticlockwise rolls before, in order not to get too dizzy, he threw in a couple of clockwise ones too. At least Hatate’s yellow was a foul. Admittedly a foul that had been perpetrated numerous times against us and gone unpunished though. Anyway, it’s just fun to moan about refs isn’t it? 

 
Let’s be honest, this was a pretty bad game of football which is perhaps why I’m struggling to stay on the topic. Only a couple of shots on target from each team and a general lack of excitement or chances. There was a nice moment when Yamane attempted to lob the ball back in the danger zone and ended up dropping it onto the bar, almost embarrassing Japan’s number one goalkeeper… We had loads of possession but it wasn’t exciting possession at all. Slightly exciting was the fact that we had over 11000 fans in the stadium and there was a semblance of something approaching atmosphere! The special sections for people who had been double vaccinated or had a negative test result behind the goals were separated from the rest of the ground by some little barriers but I’m not sure how that segregation worked when it came to gong to the toilet or buying stuff from the food stalls. Or indeed congregating outside the stadium. I guess like many Corona virus prevention measures it is more about the visuals rather than actually being particularly effective. However, unlike many other countries and I’m thinking of the UK in particular, it does seem that there is very little of the ‘I want my freedom back! My freedom to not wear a mask!’ (Even though the inconvenience of doing so is pretty much minuscule for most people) kind of behaviour. So yeah, fans are coming back, next stop singing… maybe. It’s good to get the job done and win at this stage of the season. We now need a win and a draw to guarantee the title if YFM win every single one of their remaining games. Let’s be honest, the final whistle in their loss to Cerezo was perhaps more exciting than our game. Not saying I prefer to see our rivals lose than us win. Just that our 1-0 win with a bad performance was like arriving at the station 30 seconds late and finding your train is one minute late and their loss was more like seeing a Conservative (or conservative) politician get what’s coming to them for the rotten things they’ve done. The simile is getting stretched to breaking point, but the gist is that both are very welcome but the latter would be very unexpected in the current climate whilst also being just lovely! Presumably Cerezo will do the same to us as they did to YFM and try to ruin our day out in Osaka in a few weeks time. Hopefully it won’t matter by that stage…
 
 
Next up, we’re back at Todoroki on Wednesday from the Emperor’s Cup Quarter Final against Kashima. We really nicked the win in that game, so hopefully we can put in a bit of a better performance in the cup and not have to rely on a very late Miyagi wonder goal. After that we’re back at Todoroki the following Wednesday for a lunchtime kick off against Urawa in the league. YFM are playing at the same time, so if they mess up and we don’t, it could be a fun bank holiday evening. Go Frontale!


Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento (Yellow card 55')
MF 47. HATATE Reo (Yellow card 45')
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 84')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 71')
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for HATATE 71')
FW 20. CHINEN Kei
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten (on for MARCINHO 84')
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for WAKIZAKA 89')
 
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match


This is going to be a bit of a surprise for some...

TANIGUCHI Shogo - did a great job of being a central defender and didn't get moved into midfield to blot his copybook. After his first few passes ballooning off the pitch he put in one of his best performances for ages I think. Great work!
 
 
Goals
 
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 47' 1-0

 
Highlights
 

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Vs FC Tokyo (home) 2/10/21 J League match 31

 

Kawasaki Frontale 1 - 0 FC Tokyo 

A delightful win against one of our biggest rivals. When you play a big rival the best possible result to get would be to give them an absolute thumping. Perhaps the second best option would be to snatch a 1-0 win from a pretty rotten game, particularly when the opposition think they should have won. I’m not saying that’s what happened (well, maybe I will later), but right now I am enjoying us getting though another ridiculous run of games with very little break between them with a squad that is already pretty much on their knees. And I’m also enjoying us not being in a state of emergency any more. That goes part of the way towards explaining why this blog post is a bit tardy as we can now 'do stuff'. With no games for three weeks the urgency to get a blog post done fades away, perhaps alongside my memories of the game itself. I did make some notes. But they did mainly consist of different offensive words for different FC Tokyo players for a variety of reasons, and one for the team as a whole. It’s always fun when you play your neighbours I guess! We'll go with the old usual four headings, (but with two mashed into one), for this blog post and then when they are done, we’ll have a nice lie down and somewhat paradoxically make the most of our opportunities to go out again. Guess I’m saying I’ll go out somewhere and lie down there. Lovely!


Us -

Again no Schmidt or Hasegawa in the squad. Bit strange. And maybe getting stranger game by game. Marcinho has made quite an impact since he arrived but I get the feeling that he’s not exactly Oniki’s kind of player. Definitely he seems to be quite focused on the goal and perhaps at times if he’d passed rather than going for goal we would have scored a few more. I don’t want to take anything away from him though as he’s made us quite a few goals already with his pace and trickery. Miyagi has slightly reverted to his old form after his wonderful goal against Kashima. I feel that he’s best used as a substitute at the moment. Which I suppose means that Oniki has to choose between Marcinho and Hasegawa as the starter on the left up front, and if that’s the choice you’ve probably got to go with Marcinho at the moment. Schmidt, I have no idea what’s going on there. Tachibanada does a good job in that spot, but you can’t say Taniguchi is a better bet, although it seems that recently Oniki recently thinks so. Perhaps there are unknown injuries. Certainly it wouldn’t be the first time and won’t be the last that has happened. What was something of a surprise was the fact that Taniguchi was on the bench and Kurumaya started at centre back. Obviously all the players have been getting a bit knackered recently with the horrible schedule. Finally they are now actually allowed to go home which should help somewhat with the fatigue I guess. But Taniguchi has been injured so in theory should be in a bit better condition with regards to fatigue than some of the other players. Or maybe that's not how it works and I’m being stupid. Again I guess it could be a niggle which prevented him from starting. But you would have thought with this being our last game for three weeks that we would have put our best team possible out, aside from anyone who couldn’t stand up. I really hope that this doesn’t mark the start of Oniki taking his pet project of transforming Taniguchi into a midfielder to the next level. I just don’t think there is any reason to do this and the longer he experiments with it, the more we will be dodging bullets when it comes to avoiding defeats. You would have thought the first half against Shonan would have been enough to make anyone realise that some experiments are doomed to fail and should never be repeated but it seems that’s not the case. When Oniki’s prolonged positional chess game reached its conclusion with Yamamura coming on in midfield and pushing Taniguchi back into defence, we unsurprisingly looked better. But to be honest, on the whole this was another very tired performance that we got away with. And we were definitely more on the back foot after we made our subs. I’m not moaning too much about this though as so many players are so tired, so it’s difficult to work out how you can get round this obstacle. Of course there is an easy option which is play the numerous players who have had hardly any pitch time, but that definitely doesn’t seem like it will ever happen with Oniki unless it’s an emergency and it is absolutely necessary. It was said to me that we were very lucky to win this game and whilst I have a little bit of sympathy with this opinion, I think this was a game with two tired teams putting in very average performances. Certainly FC Tokyo had a lot more shots than us (18 to 7), but the damning thing for them is that we had double the amount of shots on target as they did. The only time they managed to hit the target was the one that Jesiel had to clear from just in front of the line after the striker had gone round Sung-Ryong. Of course stats never really tell the whole story, but to have 18 shots and only get one on target doesn’t exactly scream out ‘we were robbed’ to me. Our guys just about managed to do what was needed and get over the line. Our goal came from a nice move with a gut busting run from Nobori, (just after I’d written a note saying he looked very tired and out of sorts), and a nice headed finish from Damiao. Not much else happened for us, but what did happen was enough to get us the three points and take us to needing three wins and a draw to take the title. Irritatingly, YFM beat Shonan having one shot on target on Friday night otherwise that would have been only the three wins. Of course we can take the moral high ground, as in our game we won by having a massive two shots on target. 
 

Them and the ref -

An unusual combination which suggests that I am about to write that he was on their side. But that’s not what I mean. The reason these two things have been mashed together is because of the ridiculous incident that happened at the end of the game. FC Tokyo got a free kick from what looks to me quite like a dive from the always horribly arseholeish Mita and was certainly an attempt to get whatever challenge was made to look like it was in the box to win a penalty. Fair enough that they got the free kick though. They then proceeded to take about three minutes to actually take the free kick after endless ridiculous arguments about the distance of the wall. The ref paced it out three times with very little change apart from to the end of the wall and we ended up with a curved line in order to placate FC Tokyo whingers. To be honest, I’m not sure why the ref put up with it. Particularly after he’d paced it out the second time. I would have started waving some cards around. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? Perhaps he should also have just blown the whistle for full time as we ended up going three minutes past the allotted four minutes of injury time. That would have been quite amusing and got the ref a bit of a reputation and some notoriety. After all the procrastination and deliberation and recalculation (…) they blasted the ball against a jumping Yamane who’d twisted and had his arm by his side but they still thought it should be a penalty. I probably would have said the same if it were my team, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it 100% wasn’t a penalty. It was impressive how many FC Tokyo players got involved in the various pathetic stages of their argument with the ref. And it has certainly given me plenty more hate figures in their squad, which let’s be honest, already has more than its fair share of despicable people in it. My main new hate figure in this game was Oumari who was just basically a general moaner but the thing that got me the most was when he flew to the floor and rolled around clutching his face after a shoulder to shoulder challenge. Perhaps in their practice sessions they combine Leandro’s elbowing and punching practice drills with diving and play-acting practice. Morishige was pretty annoying too for his endless whinging at the end. And Diego Oliveira definitely went in a bit hard on Sung-Ryong who’d dived and was holding the ball. But the ref seemed to have forgotten his cards. However, you probably would expect a Frontale fan to find something annoying about most if not all of the FC Tokyo team, wouldn’t you? So I hope I didn’t disappoint.  Oh and a final word for our old friend Takahagi, who I think since he said he’d never lost a Tamagawa Classico, might have lost pretty much all of the Tamagawa Classicos. I didn’t find him particularly annoying in this game, but there was a great moment where he attempted to clear a stray ball off the pitch and instead of just rolling it off, tried to chip it over the advertising hoardings to the ball boy but messed it up, beautifully chipping it onto the face of the hoarding which it bounced off and rolled back onto the pitch. I would love to have put this down to some shithousery time wasting but they were actually losing at the time so I suspect it wasn’t. It was definitely an amusing incident though.
 

Other stuff -

Two other main points of excitement in this game. First, we were back to 10000 capacity and what a difference it made. It’s difficult to exactly work out the effect of the extra numbers as our supporter call leader group declined to drum or lead calls during the state of emergency. I’m sure their presence with a crowd of 5000 would have been a massive improvement on the extremely flaccid atmospheres we’ve had recently. But now with 10000 it’s actually fun again! Sure the queues for the toilets aren't as short as they were but I’ll trade that off against actually having a good atmosphere. And perhaps we’re lucky that they random factor ticket purchasing system has probably spread the supporters who get involved around the stadium a bit more evenly so there was some noise coming from everywhere. I still miss the singing, but this was a much better atmosphere. Actually, more accurately, it was an atmosphere, whereas previously there was no atmosphere. However, our first ‘Avante’ victory song of non state of emergency times was started way too early for my liking. It looked very likely that we might concede whilst singing it. Thankfully we got away with it. The other major talking point was the engagement of Cabrera to the mascot of Rikuzentakata which happened after he scored a penalty on the second time of asking into a tiny goal. I know lots of people don’t like this kind of thing, but I don’t care what they think because I do like it. It’s particularly nice when it secures the bond between us and Rikuzentakata, which let’s be honest, is a little out of our normal catchment zone (maybe over 400km out of it…). When we went to Rikuzentakata I was delighted to see the Frontale flags near the station. I like us being this kind of caring club with hopefully nice fans. As much as I enjoy moaning about refs and opposition players and calling them all sorts of names I still try to remember that they are human beings The best part of going to some away games is the reception from opposition fans and from locals. Plenty of them are slightly bewildered that we’ve traveled so far to watch Frontale, but there is always a kind welcome alongside the bewilderment. The away game experience is definitely 100% better than the home game one. Not knocking our home game activities at all as they are definitely infinitely preferable to for example having to go into the middle of nowhere to the Kashima stadium on a coach every home game. But it’s great that hopefully we’ll be able to get a couple of decent away trips (Sagan Tosu, Cerezo Osaka) in before the end of this season as we’ve missed way too many potentially good ones in recent times.
 

So that’s it for a few weeks now. We have no game till the 24th so we can all have a nice rest. YFM have a home game against Consadole in the meantime, so there is the potential that we can cross off another of those wins we need before we restart our campaign. Come on Consadole! We restart on the 24th at home to Shimizu. But there’s plenty of time to worry about that later. For now, let’s just enjoy having the opportunity to get a little break. Go Frontale!


Team 
 
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento
MF 47. HATATE Reo
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 23. MARCINHO (Yellow card 13')

Subs
GK 27. TANNO Kenta 
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo (on for WAKIZAKA 63')
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for MARCINHO 63')
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 63')
FW 24. MIYAGI Ten
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for NOBORIZATO 81')
 
 

My Frontale Man Of The Match


Hmmm. Left this a bit too late. I can’t remember much and to be honest it wasn’t a glistening performance. I’ll keep it fairly obvious and give it to…

JESIEL - we didn’t concede and this was mainly thanks to him sliding to stop Nagai’s shot before it crossed the line. As they didn’t manage to hit the target aside from this, I guess the win is all down to him.
 
 
Goals
 
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 45+1' 1-0

 
Highlights