Friday 9 July 2021

Vs Daegu FC 8/7/21 ACL Group stage game 5

Daegu FC 1 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale

We’re almost there! 5 games done out of 6 and we’ve got a perfect record so far. With these late night ACL kick offs and the Euros being on at the same time, it is fair to say that my sleep patterns are a bit disrupted recently so I’ll be quite pleased come Monday morning when both the Euros and our ACL group stage are finished. Sunday night/Monday morning is a double header with a bit of sleeping time in between but to be honest I’ve never been great at sleeping on demand when I really need to, so I am slightly worried about working on Monday. Anyway, you’re not interested in my sleep issues so I’ll get on with wrapping this post up in my usual half-arsed didn’t attend the game ACL style.

We were back to the first eleven (kind of) for this crucial game. It seems unlikely that Beijing Guoan who have one point from five games so far will take anything from us in the final game so we could be looking at a perfect record. But I guess we’ll ring that changes for that game and give some of the less used players a run out. Maybe Oniki will even change the keeper. Kobayashi is still injured and it seems that Tsukagawa has joined that list, although his absence might be just a precaution after picking up a head injury. Nobori didn’t play this game which I guess is because he wasn’t being risked after picking up an injury in a previous game. There’s not a great deal else to say personnel wise about this match. Joao Schmidt picked up a yellow which means he misses the next game, which presumably he wouldn’t have played anyway, so this suggests that it was quite a sensible yellow card to pick up. I don’t know if yellow card records are expunged after the group stage but my guess is that they aren’t. Perhaps the big shock in this match was Schmidt’s replacement Yamamura. Having Yamamura, Jesiel ,Kurumaya, and Taniguchi on the pitch at the same time really hints at Taniguchi in the anchor role in midfield but perhaps after he finally had a decent spell there in the last match, Oniki went with the midfielder Yamamura in midfield. Very surprising! And makes the Taniguchi in midfield experiments even more confusing. Basically we kept relentlessly trying it till it eventually worked and when it finally did we’ve given up with it. I would rather he didn’t play there but it’s weird that Oniki has given up on the idea now. Or perhaps he is still looking at these games as opportunities to try things out, which is pretty adventurous as he doesn’t even try to do these kind of things in games against the lowliest of J League opposition. Although I guess playing Yamamura in midfield is not so much of an experiment historically, it just feels like it is given how often it has been done since he joined us. A quick word on Damiao who picked up a hat trick in this game. Weird that against ‘weaker’ opposition he was only able to score once and then he bags a crucial hat trick in our tough game. Six goals for him in the ACL so far so it’s not only Tachibanda that Olunga needs to be keeping a golden boot eye on. Nice work Damiao! He’s been in a position to get a hat trick before but I don’t think he has quite got there. Oniki does tend to usually make more changes than he has been doing in these games and more often than not Damiao would be withdrawn before being able to get his third.

A quick word on Daegu. I feel quite sorry for their keeper who kept them in the game. We had significantly more possession and shots than them in this match and it seems a shame for him that he ended up conceding three times. (Also, I quite liked the design of his shirt). However maybe we needed him to do this, as we did let in a really soft goal with Taniguchi and Schmidt tackling each other and basically letting the ball drop to their striker to put it away from close range. Previous to that goal, our first came from similarly calamitous defending. And actually so did our second. It wasn’t a great night for defences I guess. Pleasingly our third was a nice move though. There were maybe a couple of contributing factors to the general sloppiness though which I’ll mention later. Daegu were a pretty physical team again and honestly it was a bit of a joke that it took the ref so long to book their number 30 who was basically fouling every attack we made. When he finally did get booked it looked like he was feigning injury to avoid a yellow but it seemed that due to all that hacking he had actually pulled a muscle and had to be subbed. Which made a change from the pulling of shirts that he’d been doing for most of the game (ho ho ho, what a great bit of wordplay that was). I feel like in both games we have been on top against Daegu and I guess the results show this but they were definitely our toughest group opponents. They do apparently have some important players missing though. To be fair though, so do we. The K League seems quite tight at the moment, and Daegu are four points off the top spot in 4th, so if we get another K League team in the next round I wonder if they will prove to be similarly challenging.

This was far from a classic game. The mitigating factors I mentioned above were probably the heat and the pitch. At kick off it was 37 degrees and this actually was a later than usual kick off. Parts of the game were played at walking pace and given that the first two goals were basically gifts from the two defences two strikers I wondered if it was going to peter out into a pass-a-thon with neither team exerting themselves too much and a mutually beneficial draw being the outcome. I’m never really sure how these things come about though, and perhaps Oniki wanted to make a real statement in the group stage. Let’s be honest though, if, (as it looks like we will), we finish with a perfect record we’ll still be told that we had it easy. Basically there’s no way that we could come out of the group stage untouched by moans. On to the awful pitch. This was our first game in the other bigger stadium. Apparently at the start of the tournament the Lokomotiv stadium pitch was much worse. But if that is still the case I’m not looking forward to seeing it for our last game. It’s a bit of cliche to compare a pitch to an unploughed farmer’s field but the comparison was pretty spot on in this match I think. From a distance it looked a bit dodgy but maybe looked like it had at least been painted green. Close up it looked horrible. Lots of players ended up covered in mud and I guess this came from a lot of pre-match watering to try and soften and hose down some of the solid pitch bumps that apparently were a mini recreation of Uzbekistan’s Hissar range of mountains. Culturally, it was a nice touch to introduce some of the wide range of geographical features of the Uzbek countryside. To make it even clearer that I’m googling a lot for these comparisons, I would also like to say that other areas of the pitch resembled the Kyzylkum desert. Basically, it was a rubbish pitch and I’m pleased that we seemed to come away from the match relatively unscathed injury-wise. One final point is that after 4 games the TV coverage seems to be getting a bit better. Or maybe it was just because we were in the bigger stadium. At one stage it seemed they were doing a kind of fade to blur thing on the introduction of the people walking in with the ACL flag. Or maybe I’m being generous and it was a happy accident. Still the commentators seem to be having some trouble identifying our players but again I’ll give them the excuse that they have the same slightly dodgy pictures to go from. And the fact that the number 7 in the font we use for our ACL shirts looks quite like a number 1. I was confused to see Kobayashi on the pitch in the last match but it turned out to be Kozuka. And although Ienaga and Hatate don’t exactly look that similar, their 41 and 47 certainly do.

Like I said above, we’re almost there. One more game and then we can come back to Japan and to a 4 day 2 match period of games and then a month off. It seems that these games might be our last opportunity to see Mitoma play as he is being strongly linked with a move to Brighton after the Olympics, which personally speaking is horrible for me as I don’t like them much due to rivalries with my team back in England. However I do like the fact the he’ll probably immediately be loaned to St Gilloise in Belgium, (who I do like for unconnected to football reasons), due to work permit issues. Presumably I will never have to opportunity to actually see him play for them whilst drinking beautiful sour beer though given that we are still lurching from one period of feckless corona response to another over here at the moment. Anyway, enough of that and enough of this. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 6. JOAO SCHMIDT (Yellow card 65')
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota (on for WAKIZAKA 70')
DF 15. ISSAKA Zain
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya
MF 17. KOZUKA Kazuki
FW 19. TONO Daiya
FW 20. CHINEN Kei (on for MITOMA 90+2')
MF 22. TACHIBANADA Kento (on for HATATE 86')
MF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for JOAO SCHMIDT 71')
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 34' 0-1
EDGAR (Daegu) 43' 1-1
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 64' 1-2
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 87' 1-3 

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