Monday 22 August 2022

Vs Avispa Fukuoka (away) 20/8/22 J League match 26

Avispa Fukuoka 1 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale

We won in Kyushu! But, as usual when it’s an away trip with a fun game and a good result, I didn’t take enough notes and then consumed too much alcohol after the game to be able to write anything much about the game. Oh well, I’ll do my best I suppose. This was actually a decent performance and a nice result. Both Fukuoka and us have had quite a few COVID problems recently but this game saw both teams with full benches… well, up until the day of the game when (we think) Nobori had to pull out due to what I heard was a back injury. Apparently if we called someone up to replace him they wouldn’t have arrived till the second half of the game at the earliest so they just decided to not bother. I thought that we always had a couple of spare players traveling with the team in case of emergencies. I think Ando has been doing this for pretty much the last ten years, so if he was there we could have gone with our multiple keepers on the bench thing again but perhaps decided against it. Or perhaps in COVID times and with our squad recently having gone through the ringer a bit with cases, they’ve decided to not take anyone who doesn’t need to be there. In the end it didn’t matter really, but it did mean Tachibanada at left back again and perhaps because of that a reprieve for Joao Schmidt who may otherwise might have been dropped. Or perhaps we would have gone with that ‘nice and tight but pretty bad at getting goals’ double defensive midfield again. Anyway, this is far too many maybes for a post that I thought would be quite short and we haven’t even made it out of the intro paragraph yet…

Ok, now we have. Four goals! It’s been ages since we last scored four! Or at least it feels like it. We actually got four against Gamba but that was due in no small part to a very early red card for them. On this occasion we also faced 10 men, but at that stage we were already two goals up and had scored three so maybe it wasn’t quite so decisive. Also, after Ienaga cooly converted the penalty which came with the red card, I think both teams significantly took their feet off the gas(es)(?), (a phrase that sounds really uncomfortably weird in the plural…). I should mention here that the weather was pretty brutal in Fukuoka on Saturday. We’ve had our fair share of unpleasantly hot days recently but the humidity was off the scale for this game. Big thanks to the guy who was restocking the stadium vending machine as it ran out. And big credit to Avispa for pricing the water at ¥110 a bottle inside the stadium. Plenty of other teams don’t show such restraint when it comes to the possibility of making a bit of extra cash. And I seem to remember that some clubs, (Kashima comes to mind, but maybe I’m not right about that and am just drawn to them because of their policy of confiscating the lids of PET bottles when you enter the stadium), don’t even bother selling water and instead go with the sports drink option, where presumably the price can be jacked up a bit. Anyway, it was hot and with the game at 4-1, I think both teams thought that the result was unlikely to change significantly in the last 20 minutes so eased up. No such luxury for us fans behind the goal. This was a singing game! Cerezo away in the Levain was too, but I don’t think many people went to that one. Singing games mean that we had to have our ticket checked every time we re-entered the area behind the goal. I guess this is because every other seat was out of action with everyone sitting at a (slight) distance from each other. Here are my ‘exciting’ takes on the return of singing at Frontale games. 1. It isn’t easy to sing loudly with a mask on if you’re an aging unfit and slightly overweight man. I declined to join in with the jumping. I’ve never been much good at that anyway, (see the points mentioned above), and given that singing was a struggle I don’t think I needed to add anything else to the equation. (I did jump quite enthusiastically to the ‘Vai De La Frontale’ at the end though. By then I knew my endurance challenge was nearing its end. I hadn’t reckoned with standing in such a long queue for the bus though, but if you can’t stand in a queue for a bus after a 4-1 away win, when can you? And I am a Brit too, so queuing is pretty much a natural behaviour for me. 2. I think we were pretty loud. If felt like it anyway. 3. It’s so much fun to sing again and really improves the game experience. I’m not sure if being able to sing also means I can shout at the ref, but I guess it’s a similar endeavour. Both are fun but probably pointless. I’m not one of these people who is going to demand it immediately returns everywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does come back fairly soon. After all, we are still getting new high levels of cases in Japan on a daily basis but there seems to be no return to any kind of restrictions to daily life so the direction of travel does clearly seem to be towards getting back to normal regardless of the situation. 4. Our new player songs are nice. I did a post about them on here recently. Significantly, not so many lyrics in the new ones and a lot more lala-ing, perhaps because there are a lot of songs for people to remember at the same time due to us not having any singing for the last couple of years. I wonder why Tanno doesn’t have a song though. I know he hasn’t played much, but he’s breaking new records for being an unused sub. Go on Kazoku and give him a song. I think he deserves it.

One song we had plenty of practice with on the day was Marcinho’s one. Apparently his hattrick was the first one of his career. Previously Oniki has taken him off after scoring twice on a couple of occasions I think, so perhaps the lack of subs really worked in his favour this time. He seemed very happy as you’d expect after the game and somewhat bizarrely was given man of the match by the sponsors who you would imagine would normally pick an Avispa player. This was another sign of Avispa being a nice club it seems. Not even a late appearance from flying-double-footed-to-the-kneecap tackler Jordi Croux was able to dull my positivity towards Avispa. They also had their own club beer, which was pretty nice. Unfortunately after buying it just before kick off and forgetting that I wouldn’t be able to take it into the singing section and therefore to my seat, I had to dispatch it pretty quickly. Drank it all in about half the time it took Grolli to leave the pitch after getting his red card, (so about 3 minutes). Their cheerleaders were very friendly to us too. Hmmmm… there must be something to moan about….. hmmmmm. Lukian was a bit of a diver maybe. Oh, I know, maybe their supporters starting a chant as Damiao was on the floor apparently seriously injured and continuing it whilst he got taken off on a stretcher. Not particularly classy, but you know, these things happen with call leaders sometimes and to be honest I’m clutching at straws a bit. The Damiao injury doesn’t look good apparently. Oniki said something along the lines of never having seem Damiao in such pain and that it was beginning to swell up quite soon after the game. So maybe we have a striker problem approaching. Perhaps also I should moan a little about their policy with light sticks/pen lights, whatever you want to call them, even though my moan is hardly worth bothering with. It was all a bit confusing as we were using them before the game, as were some of the Avispa fans and the cheerleaders did a dance with them at half time. Apparently they are banned during the match though so the poor steward had to basically individually go and talk to everyone who was doing it one at a time. As most people don’t use them all the time it was something like an illuminated whack a mole for him. Just as one person has been told and puts theirs away, another person gets theirs out for the next illumination-worthy incident. Probably would have been easier to just make an announcement, but well done to the steward anyway. The policy was something of a mystery though. Someone on Twitter retweeted my video with someone using one in front of me questioning (as far as I can tell) somewhat sarcastically whether Frontale fans are allowed to use them. Other people seemed to think that only Avispa coloured ones were allowed. Others, that none were allowed, perhaps due to it being near the airport, although given that their website was selling them that seemed unlikely. Buried in the small print somewhere on their website was the request to not use them during the game. Perhaps this was a slight overreaction to the recent scandal where the significantly higher powered laser pointers were being used to put off players mid match in the African Nations Cup. I though the airport issue was quite amusing, perhaps based on the thought that during a game waving light sticks in the away end might confuse a pilot and end up with them trying to land a flight from Haneda on the pitch. Presumably the same thing has happened when a local resident went into their garden with a torch looking for their dog’s favourite toy. Or when someone used the toilet without putting the blind down before turning the light on. You would have thought the big flood lights would have distinguished the stadium from the runway anyway. But it is nice though to have a city where the airport is so close to the city centre and the football stadium. If only those buses were a bit better…
Anyway, this is all quite petty stuff so let’s whinge about the ref a bit and here I’m sure Avispa fans might want to join in here too. Long before he’d sent off Grolli and long before he taken a weak clearance from the Avispa keeper, controlled it with his privates and then his hand instead of getting out the way and letting our player, who the ball was going to fall perfectly to, take a shot or possibly make a chance, I was already moaning that he and his assistants were useless. I find it very annoying when a linesman signals for a throw in with his flag held directly above his head, waiting for the ref to tell him which way to give it. I find it more annoying when the ref is doing the same thing and they both just stare at each other waiting for the other to flinch first, both wanting to avoid making an error, until the ref just gives it to whoever protests more. To be fair to the ref he was in a tricky situation when he decided to get in the way of the ball with his…. erm… balls. It was clearly going to fall to us but I think he would have been in a world of trouble if he’d given us a drop ball on the edge of the box. With neither team really in control of the ball I guess he had no choice, but let’s not let that get in the way of a moan. The red card was a weird one but did bring some enjoyable entertainment. It was an absolutely obvious penalty I thought and I think most people would agree. If you look at the initial incident, the ref is reaching for his pocket immediately. When I saw it getting referred for VAR with the dreaded finger on the ear I was bamboozled as to how we were going to be denied a nailed-on penalty. It gave the Avispa players a bit of confidence and hope though as they seemed to redouble their efforts at negotiation and upped the level of haranguing they were directing at the ref. It was very enjoyable when he got the red out though, a bit like being given an expensive Christmas present from a relative you didn’t know existed. At the time I thought I must have missed some kind of shove or ‘fuck off you cheating shit of a ref’ bit of abuse from Grolli to the ref as I wasn’t sure why he’d been sent off. But after a little bit of research of the rules, (which are so horrendously vague and open to interpretation that they defy belief), perhaps it was the right decision.

The whole double jeopardy thing has gone now so we can have a red and a penalty so that wasn’t an issue. The four points (and I feel like I have written this on a few occasions thanks to the ongoing DOGSO battle between Tangiguchi and perhaps Japan’s shittiest ref Kasahara) are 1. Location and number of defenders (there was no-one who was going to get to Tono before he shot), 2. Distance (you couldn’t get much closer to the goal and apparently the closer the better), 3. Likelihood of the keeper getting the ball (you can’t really say he was going to do that before Tono could shoot) and 4. Direction of play (Tono was going directly towards the goal). So maybe it was right. But it did feel pretty wrong. Not complaining though. Well, not till Taniguchi gets sent off again for a similar incident. As usual with recent rule changes, things seem to be getting more complicated and difficult to easily decide, which in turn justifies the existence of VAR (oooh, that’s a coincidence!). I really feel for refs at levels and in leagues where there is no VAR who have to make ‘correct’ decisions on the spot about events that VAR likes to watch from multiple angles for a few minutes at a time. Yes, I still hate VAR. But admittedly this time the finger on the ear gave instead of taking away.

So lots in this post about small aspects of the game and hardly any discussion of anything that might be in the highlights package. Lovely! Bet you’re glad I gave you all that light stick talk, right? Next up we have Kashima at home on Saturday. Would be nice to keep this little league run going but Kashima are on a horrible run, which probably means they’ll turn up and beat us easily. Hopefully we’ll be able to fill the bench on that occasion. I’m guessing Kobayashi will be starting up front and with both Damiao and Chinen probably injured, we might be looking at maybe Igarashi getting on the bench. I suspect it will be Yamamura as the replacement striker though. He does seem to like to score against his old team though so maybe that’s a good thing. I’m slightly concerned that after the fun of this game it might be a bit of a let down. No singing obviously, but maybe, just maybe we might be able to play well again. Fingers crossed!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
MF 14. WAKIZAKA Yasuto
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro

GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for WAKIZAKA 60')
MF 16. SEKO Tatsuki (on for IENAGA 90+2')
MF 19. TONO Daiya (on for CHANATHIP 46')
MF 31. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for MARCINHO 90+2')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

As much as I don’t like to just give it to the goalscorer, who am I to disagree with the Avispa sponsors….

MARCINHO - Scored. And scored again. And again. And never stopped running. And his new song is good.
MARCINHO (Frontale) 7' 0-1
YAMAGISHI (Avispa) 22' 1-1
MARCINHO (Frontale) 45' 1-2
MARCINHO (Frontale) 64' 1-3
IENAGA (Frontale) PEN 73' 1-4


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