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!

GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 28. YAMAMURA Kazuya
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 19. TONO Daiya

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for WAKIZAKA 46')
DF 4. JESIEL (on for OSHIMA 63')
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!
IWASAKI (Tosu) 3' 1-0 
SAKAI (Tosu) 20' 2-0
KOYAMATSU (Tosu) 32' 3-0 PEN
LEANDRO DAMIAO (Frontale) 90+1' 3-1


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