Sunday, 23 July 2017

Few photos and videos from the Supporters Day

Had a great time at the Supporters day today. Not going to bore you with the details, but had an interesting tour behind the scenes in the main stand and enjoyed the entertainment and the nice atmosphere. If this is how we throw a party mid-season, still having won no titles or trophies, I'd love to see what happens if we do win something.

Jubilo Iwata at home next weekend. Let's hope the good feelings can continue!


Monday, 17 July 2017

2017 season halfway round up Part 2

This is part 2 of my first half of the season round up. Part 1 is here. Here are some stats from the season so far, including my personal and highly subjective man of the match awards. These are obviously just my opinion and I started halfway through the season so there's not a whole set of them, but I thought it would be interesting to see who I've given most to. Also, for your information, I'm counting cup games in the goals and assists totals. Hopefully my figures will be accurate. It took a while to collate them and I got lost a couple of times, but I think they're right. I've written up all the stats for each player and then followed them up with some top 5s. Anyway, hopefully this will give us all something to ponder on during the short summer break and I'm sure we're all looking to seeing how the second half of the season pans out. Go Frontale!

Stats by player

ST = games started
SB = used as substitute
US = unused sub
Y = yellow card
R = red card
G = goals
A = assists
MM = man of the match (according to me)

1. Sung-Ryong JUNG (GK)
ST 25 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 5

ST 16 SB 4 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 0

3. Tatsuki NARA (DF)
ST 16 SB 6 US 4 Y 1 R 1 G 3 A 0 MM 1

4. Yusuke IGAWA (DF)
ST 2 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

ST 25 SB 0 US 2 Y 3 R 0 G 4 A 0 MM 0

6. Yusuke TASAKA (MF)
ST 16 SB 4 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 2 A 0 MM 1

7. Shintaro KURUMAYA (DF)
ST 26 SB 1 US 0 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 6 MM 0

8. Hiroyuki ABE (MF)
ST 21 SB 1 US 2 Y 1 R 0 G 9 A 6 MM 3

9. Takayuki MORIMOTO (FW)
ST 4 SB 5 US 14 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

10. Ryota OSHIMA (MF)
ST 16 SB 1 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 1

ST 24 SB 3 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 13 A 10 MM 2

13. Koji MIYOSHI (MF)
ST 6 SB 8 US 6 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 1 MM 0

14. Kengo NAKAMURA (MF)
ST 22 SB 2 US 0 Y 1 R 0 G 5 A 12 MM 1

16. Tatsuya HASEGAWA (MF)
ST 9 SB 10 US 5 Y 0 R 0 G 7 A 0 MM 1

17. Yuto TAKEOKA (DF)
ST 2 SB 2 US 2 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

ST 5 SB 1 US 1 Y 1 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

19. Kentaro MORIYA (MF)
ST 6 SB 6 US 13 Y 1 R 0 G 2 A 2 MM 1

20. Kei CHINEN (FW)
ST 0 SB 3 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

ST 23 SB 2 US 0 Y 5 R 0 G 1 A 1 MM 0

ST 11 SB 9 US 1 Y 7 R 1 G 3 A 4 MM 1

ST 8 SB 0 US 3 Y 2 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

24. Shunsuke ANDO (GK)
ST 0 SB 0 US 3 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

25. Kenta KANO (MF)
ST 2 SB 3 US 8 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

26. Jefferson TABINAS (DF)
ST 0 SB 0 US 1 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

27. Shohei OTSUKA (FW)
ST 5 SB 0 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

ST 4 SB 4 US 7 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 0 MM 0

29. Michael James FITZGERALD (DF)
ST 2 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

30. Shota ARAI (GK)
ST 3 SB 1 US 24 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

31. William POPP (GK)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

32. Ao TANAKA (MF)
ST 0 SB 0 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 0 A 0 MM 0

41. Akihiro IENAGA (MF)
ST 8 SB 6 US 0 Y 0 R 0 G 1 A 2 MM 0

Most Goals

1. KOBAYASHI Yu - 13
2. ABE Hiroyuki - 9
3. HASEGAWA Tatsuya - 7
4. NAKAMURA Kengo - 5
5. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 4

Most Assists

1. NAKAMURA Kengo - 12
2. KOBAYASHI Yu - 10
3. ABE Hiroyuki - 6
3. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 6
5. RHAYNER - 4

Most Starts

1. KURUMAYA Shintaro - 26
2. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 25
2. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 25
4. KOBAYASHI Yu - 24

Most Man Of The Match awards

1. JUNG Sung-Ryong - 5
2. ABE Hiroyuki - 3

Most Yellow Cards

1. RHAYNER - 7
3. TANIGUCHI Shogo - 3
4. EDUARDO - 2
4. KURUMAYA Shintaro- 2

Most Red Cards

1. NARA Tatsuki - 1
1. RHAYNER - 1

2017 season halfway round up Part 1

I thought I'd write a post rounding up the first half of our season with some stats and how I think it has gone. There certainly have been some ups and downs, but on the whole I think we can be pretty positive. We're still in all the competitions, we're third in the table and we're in pretty good form. Or at least we were until the summer break started. Let's hope this continues when we start playing again.

Of the four competitions we're in, I guess there's least to say about the Levain Cup as, due to us taking part in the ACL, we are yet to play a game in this competition. Our first match will be on September 3rd and this will be the first of two legs in the quarter final.

We resume in the Emperor's cup shortly afterwards on September 20th. This will be a fourth round game. Location and opponents are yet to be decided. We've played two games in this competition so far and both have been reasonably comfortable for us. The first one saw us play some players who don't get much pitch time, but the second was with a team made up of much more familiar faces. It remains to be seen how we will be approaching this tournament in the next round. I think given that we are still yet to win our first trophy or title, we'll be trying our best in all competitions whilst we still have the chance. I'm slightly concerned that we are relying quite heavily on the same few players in all competitions at the moment as we still have a long way to go this season. Hopefully some of the fringe players will start making more of a claim to start games and then we can rotate a bit more. So far so good in this competition though.

In the ACL we have probably surprised a few people. I don't think anyone expected us to win our group. After four fairly tepid draws where we were solid if unspectacular, we grabbed our chance by winning in Korea and then finished off the job at home against Eastern in what was a memorably strange atmosphere at Todoroki. The first game was a cagey affair with neither us nor Suwon wanting to lose and consequently playing out a draw. The second has to go down as a bit of a disaster. I'm not sure if we picked too weak a team and underestimated the opposition. There's a case to be made for that, but it was the ref's insane decision to send off Nara very early in the game that really changed things I think. We managed to get a draw, but I think we still probably should have had enough to win the game. The two games against Guangzhou were again cagey affairs. Away, we were all over the place in the first half, mainly due to some strange selections and tactics from Oniki. But in the second half we really battered them and in the end could probably consider ourselves a little unlucky to not win. The home game was pretty dull and I guess a draw was a fair result, but I was really surprised that Guangzhou didn't seem particularly good. Presumably if we make it through the next round and end up playing them again they'll have improved hugely and make me eat my words. The most crucial group game was the away win at Suwon. It was a tense affair and we rode our luck at times, but we picked up a crucial win, mainly thanks to Sung-Ryong, who was returning to his old club. The last group game was a fairly comfortable and straight-forward victory at home against Eastern. In the knockout stage we faced Muangthong, who were being lauded by many. The victory away in Thailand was quite convincing though and pretty much finished off the tie in the first leg. We took a while to get going, but once we were moving we looked very good. We comfortably finished things off at home with a big victory. Our performances were largely overlooked it seemed. The news was focusing much more on Kashima going out than us going through. Previously Muangthong were apparently great (when they were beating Kashima), but when we were convincingly beating them it wasn't even worthy of a mention. Next up Urawa. It's a bit of a difficult one to predict as we never know which Urawa team will turn up, and how we might deal with them on the day. I have my fingers crossed.

Finally, the league. Third after 18 games is pretty satisfying. I guess I should probably have talked about things after 17 games for the sake of it being a halfway stage round up, but given that we are in a better position now than we were before the last game, and that the J League decided to have a break after playing the first fixture of the second half of the season, I'll use the after 18 games position instead. Last year we had a blistering first stage of the season and were playing great. We know how that ended though... This year we've not got as many points or scored as many goals but the league is much more open this time round so we're in a decent position, just three points off the top. We've haven't been playing with the swagger of last year, but we've done a decent enough job I think. Sure there have been some draws with teams that we probably should have done better against, but these kind of things happen. There are probably three real low points though and they are the defeats against FC Tokyo, Cerezo and Yokohama, all away from home with probably the lowest low being Cerezo away. Sure, they are doing well this season and currently sit at the top of the table, but we really didn't turn up that day and offered nothing. The FC Tokyo result looks bad, but they got us with a couple of sucker punches towards the end of the game when we were looking for an equaliser. At Yokohama we weren't great, but were mainly undone by a rotten ref and linesman. Judging by what I've read on twitter, this kind of thing seems to be happening more frequently recently in all J League games. The highlights were probably the win away at Kashima, home games against Urawa and Kobe, and because of the dramatic comeback, away at Sagan Tosu. If I had to give us marks out of ten so far in the league, I'd probably give us an eight.

I've had to split this post in half as it's got too long. The next part, also published today will be the stats from the season so far. You can read it here.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Vs Thespakusatsu Gunma (away) 12/7/17 - Emperor's Cup 3rd round

Thespakusatsu Gunma 0 - 4 Kawasaki Frontale

This is a post surprisingly light on details. I think anyone who watched on TV or the internet probably has a much better idea of what went on than anyone who attended the game, as in addition to the usual running track, we had an area of grass about the size of another running track round the outside. And also we were pretty much standing at ground level so the angle wasn't great either. And the weather went from not great to pretty bad during the second half when we were soaked through by a heavy rain shower and further disoriented. Considering that it's not that far away, the journey there took a pretty long time. However, I like the new rule that draws the stronger team away this year, ( although not sure how that will work in the next round though when there will probably be J1 teams playing each other). I heard that this would not apply to teams still in the ACL. However, it seems the exception doesn't count if you are lowly Frontale. It really does seem that the 'big' teams get priority treatment. But, it was a really fun evening to be honest. I like Emperor's Cup games as they normally give us a hint of what the rest of the squad is up to, and we get to see some different grounds, players, teams and fans.

To be honest though, our starting line up was quite familiar this time. I guess this may be due to the break from games that we have soon. We didn't have the need to rest players to give them a break from the league, but sadly this meant that some of the more peripheral players didn't get a look in this time. Although there were a few unusual starters. In goal we had Arai, with Tasaka, Taniguchi, Nara and Nobori ahead of him. The defensive midfielders were Neto and Moriya. And the front four were Ienaga, Kengo, Rhayner and Morimoto. There was definitely a fair bit of movement up there though. On the bench were Ando, Abe, Oshima, Kobayashi, Hasegawa, Elsinho and Itakura, so no place this time for some of the youngsters. The game started very badly for Thespakusatsu, (think from here forwards I'll just call them Kusatsu, as they seem to call themselves that). In the third minute we took the lead and it was slightly surprisingly a nice Morimoto goal! Moriya played a lovely ball into the box and Morimoto controlled, turned and slotted it home into the corner. Well done him! Perhaps the first step on the road back to some form for him. He had a reasonable game I think, leading the line as a target man, holding the ball up and at times on the right wing. He definitely offers something a little different from our other strikers so could be useful in the future if he can keep recovering the ability we know he has. I'm sure that his goal was due to me having a photo taken with him on Tuesday morning. Frontale Rabbit Blog power! In spite of this early assist, Moriya seemed to be getting moaned at by some elements of our fans which annoyed me a bit. He was doing ok I thought, and once again playing in a position that probably wouldn't be very close to his first choice. Most of the play in the first half was going on at the other end of the pitch, near the Kusatsu goal. However we did give them a few chances by giving the ball away and they showed that they can attack. Fortunately for us their finishing didn't seem very good and the few times they managed to get a shot on target, Arai was able to deal with it pretty easily. I think the surface wasn't helping. It had been pretty wet in Maebashi that day and whilst the rain held off for the first half, plenty of players were slipping and sliding around on the pitch and perhaps our short passes weren't really going exactly where we might have hoped. One thing that Kusatsu seemed particularly good at was putting in meaty challenges. Their number 8 was probably lucky to not get sent off. He picked up a booking pretty early on and I think probably could have had another yellow on a few occasions. Rhayner was having a good game going forward and covering at the back. I guess his recent absence from the squad, due to the limit on foreigners, has made him come back with some enthusiasm to show what he can do.  Neto was also doing a great job of spraying long passes across the field, switching the play and making some great opportunities for us. As soon as I wrote this note on my phone, he put in an absolute stinker which flew right off the other side of the pitch. But aside from that one, he had a decent game. Our second goal came right near the end of the half and once again Moriya was involved, giving the ball to Rhayner who did a great job of making some space, shielding the ball and then laying it off for Tasaka to smack it home from outside the box. Kind of reminiscent of his goal in the last Emperor's Cup game. So, a reasonably satisfying first half. Nothing amazing from us, but despite gifting them a few chances, we were fairly comfortable.

With the second half came the rain, a couple more goals and a few substitutions. Personally speaking, the rain was the most memorable factor. I pointed out that bizarrely it was raining on the pitch but not in the stands and almost immediately the deluge started, slowly at first, but gradually building up to power shower intensity. To be honest, it was quite refreshing. Not so refreshing was the two and a half hour journey home, soaked to the skin. I had a rain poncho in my bag, but as the rain only gradually built up, by the time I decided I should probably be wearing it, it was probably already a little too late. In the interests of 'painting it blue' I didn't cover my shirt with a boring white non-official rain coat and the weather actually did for some reason seem to make our support stronger and louder. Not so good for taking notes on a phone though. I managed a few pictures, but there's a reason people don't use their phone whilst showering. It's difficult to type. So all of what follows comes from my memories on the train home and watching the highlights so will probably be presented here in a not particularly linear way. Firstly, Moriya's goal was spectacular. He really has a talent for hitting them in from distance, but the curve and the dip were great. Really pleased for him. Equally, I'm really pleased Ienaga has finally got off the mark. It was a fairly regulation header from a Moriya corner, but the celebration from him showed how much it meant to him and the rest of the team. Until the goal he'd done a decent job of approach play, but couldn't quite get it together when it came to shooting. Actually you could probably say this about his whole season's performances up till this goal. Apparently it's a little difficult to fit in to the Frontale way of playing for new signings sometimes. I think we've been patient though. We know he's a good player and he's been doing well apart from directly in front of goal. But as soon as the ball hit the net he seemed like a changed man, hungry for the ball and dangerous going forward. He was really up for it and I have great hopes for him for the rest of the season. Other reflections on the half were that Rhayner once again was doing a great job and that we had a very enjoyable mix of goal scorers. Of the second half subs, I was quite surprised to see Kobayashi come on for Morimoto. I thought he would be one of the players looking to have a rest. But perhaps the hint of some interest from the national team meant that he was looking for some more time on the pitch. Hasegawa on for Kengo made sense as it seems that Kengo is feeling the pace a little recently. I was actually surprised to see him start. He's still hugely important for us so I thought he might have been rested for what on paper was an easier game. Nice to see Hasegawa back after being absent from the match day squad at Tosu. Finally Itakura on for Neto gave both players a chance. Itakura, a chance to get a bit more practice before going away again with the U23 national team, and Neto, a chance to have sit down and dry off. So, it finished 4-0, with decent performances from all of the players involved. It's probably only Miyoshi now that we need to get scoring. He wasn't involved at Kusatsu though, which was a shame. He too is off with the U23s now. We're through to the next round, which I believe will be drawn in August. I'd quite like another away trip like this to be honest.

Positives and negatives. Let's start negative. The train journey home was uncomfortable because my clothes were very wet. That's about it to be honest. Positives. I guess we have to start with the first goals for Morimoto and Ienaga. Confidence sure to follow hopefully. I should also point out that I had a photo with Ienaga too. And Tasaka. My powers are strong. A clean sheet is nice too, and the fact that we only picked up one yellow card (for Rhayner, can't remember why actually...). We looked pretty solid at the back apart from a couple of slip ups, and we got a clean sheet. Of the players who don't regularly start, I'd say that Moriya and Rhayner made most of a claim for themselves. Both were very involved and made a good case for what they can offer. Finally, I guess the most important thing is that we're through to the next round.

Next, we have a bit of a break. Our next game is against Jubilo Iwata at home on the 29th. Before then, we have a supporters event, a training camp and a well deserved rest for the players. It's maybe a bit of a shame to lose the momentum, as we're in good form at the moment, but hopefully this will carry over to when we're back in action. And everyone, players, staff and fans alike can have a bit of a rest. Go Frontale!


GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 22. RHAYNER (Yellow card 63)
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki

GK 24. ANDO Shunsuke
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 11. KOBAYASHI Yu (on for MORIMOTO 56')
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for NAKAMURA 65')
DF 28. ITAKURA Ko (on for NETO 82')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Once again there were a few contenders and everyone played pretty well I thought. It could have gone to Rhayner who was a constant menace and whose control and dribbling was great. Ienaga or Morimoto both got their important first goals of the season. Neto controlled the middle of the pitch and distributed the ball fantastically (most of the time...). But when you look at the stats, I think it has to go to one player.

MORIYA Kentaro - Had a hand in all of the goals. One goal, two assists and an assist assist (pre-assist, sub-assist, call it what you want, maybe don't call it anything...) It probably could have gone to him just for the great goal, but given his other contributions, it was pretty clear cut I think. 


MORIMOTO (Frontale) 3'  0-1
TASAKA (Frontale) 44'  0-2
MORIYA (Frontale) 61'  0-3
IENAGA (Frontale) 76'  0-4


Actually managed to find some proper highlights for this round. Still no sign of any from the last round. Maybe that kind of thing is only for the big teams...

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Vs Sagan Tosu (away) 8/7/17, J-League match 18

Sagan Tosu 2 - 3 Kawasaki Frontale

The good run continues, although it looked in danger at half time. This was probably the most exciting Frontale experience I've had. It's always good to stage an improbable comeback, and we really did that in this game. We never seem to have gave much luck in Kyushu and we definitely had a few decisions go against us in this game. But we prevailed! The Stadium was a nice one. Fairly compact but with a nice terrace for us and NO RUNNING TRACK!!  This was another place where fans are free to mingle and walk all the way round. I didn't make it the whole way myself, but it's nice that it's an option. They also had an impressive selection of Shochu available for sale. I didn't make it the whole way with these either. It was a pretty hot day so a lot of alcohol was probably unwise. Two final points of note were the magnificently mid-Atlantic accent of the match MC and the very friendly mascot who was happy to pose for photos, high five and even hug. I think I knocked him/her in the beak. Sorry Wintos!

The starting line up was slightly unfamiliar given the recent set-in-stone starting eleven we've come to expect. Nobori and Kengo dropped to the bench. I guess the schedule is taking its toll on Kengo a bit given his age. And maybe the same for Nobori, although I'm always surprised that he is younger than I imagine. Guess it just feels like he's been at the club a long time. Their places were taken by Miyoshi (on the left), and Ienaga (on the right). For some reason Oniki decided to put Kobayashi up front and Abe behind him, contrary to recent evidence suggesting that the other way round would work better. There was little, if none, of the front players switching thing going on. Hasegawa had been rumoured to be starting but he didn't appear even on the bench. Hope his absence is not due to anything serious. The bench was made up of Arai, Noborizato, Nara, Tasaka, Morimoto, Kengo and Moriya. The game started with a burst of action with both teams apparently going for it. Harakawa, who we have loaned to Tosu for the season seemed up for it. Miyoshi and Ienaga were also having a go early on. I guess they realised that this was an important opportunity for them. The game was pretty frantic with lots of pressing from both teams. There was not a lot of time on the ball for anyone and the action was swinging from end to end. Not exactly how we've come to expect our games to be recently. In the absence of Kengo, Neto was taking our corners. It just wouldn't be a Frontale Rabbit match report if I didn't moan about the ref somewhere, so here we go! Judging by twitter it seemed to be a weekend of terrible referees with plenty of people moaning about the various referees blundering all over Japan. My first whinge about him was the fact that he didn't seem to want to let the players stop for a quick drink break, standing near the centre circle blowing his whistle and almost windmilling his arms frantically. It was a hot day, and the game was being played at a high pace, so his insistence on a free kick being taken quickly seemed a little stupid and dangerous. I was certainly melting on terrace and all I was doing was waving my arms, shouting, singing and occasionally pretending to jump or bounce but not really doing it properly. He didn't seem too pleased that the players were pretty much ignoring him. As the half wore on, the ref looked for another way to irritate, and around 38 minutes he found a excellent opportunity. The Sagan Tosu captain Yoshida was cruelly knocked to the ground by Elsinho's aura. The imaginary assault took place well outside the box but thankfully Yoshida was able to propel himself forward a couple of metres to a spot in the box where he could lay prone, struck down by a nasty injury that existed only in his own head. At the time I was pretty sure it wasn't a penalty as it looked like a dive from where we were behind the goal. When I saw the replay I was furious with him. There was at most only the smallest hint of contact. Personally I don't think there was any but it's hard to tell. Even if there was an offence it was clearly outside the box. The fact that he had the cheek to try to get Elsinho sent off particularly irked me. And it set off a little bit of argy-bargy. The ref had lost control. He was fine though with letting the Korean Tosu forward have a word with Sung-Ryong and then give the penalty taker some advice. On loan Harakawa took the penalty which shows some guts in front of the away fans of the team you're on loan from. Sung-Ryong was close to getting it. It seemed to just go under his hand. A shame, and an injustice, but I felt we could get back into the game! Sadly a couple of minutes later we were two behind. They always say that the most dangerous time is just after you've scored. For us it seems that it's after we've conceded. We were still sleeping as we tried to pass the ball out of defence. Kurumaya gave the ball away and they whipped a cross in and were two up from a  powerful header. Maybe Elsinho and Sung-Ryong could have done a little better but neither were probably expecting the ball to be lost and then delivered into the box so quickly. 2-0 down, and Tosu started time wasting. The ref baffled with a few more strange decisions. I can't remember the details but the note I made said that he had clearly lost his mind. We had a mountain to climb, but I still had confidence. We hadn't played so well, but we didn't deserve to be in the position we were. I think we were all curious as to what Oniki would do at half time.

The second half started with Kengo and Nobori replacing Ienaga and Miyoshi. At the time I thought it was a bit risky to use two subs so early on given the weather conditions. I also didn't think Miyoshi or Ienaga had been so bad. The first half had been pretty even apart from the score. The change in our play though proved why I am in no way qualified to be a football manager, and possibly even someone who writes a blog about football. We were pretty much transformed. I don't know if it was the change of players or the half time team talk but we came out firing. Tosu came out fouling. They were definitely getting stuck into us as we started cutting through them. As usual though we were over-playing it a bit, with people reluctant to shoot. But the tempo was increasing and we were starting to bombard them. Abe had switched to the right with Kobayashi still up front, but they did seem to be exchanging positions a little. I wonder if Abe should have been up front from the start, but again, what do I know? On 56 minutes the comeback started and everything starts to get a bit blurry. The first goal came from Taniguchi. Kengo took a short corner, the ball was returned to him and he whipped it into he box. It looked like Neto headed it, but it wasn't exactly on target, but fell nicely for Taniguchi who smashed the ball into the top of the net. Tosu were wobbling. I was also wobbling as my goal celebrations seem to have got a bit more energetic recently. Two minutes later we were level. This time it was Elsinho with his first of the season from a ball across the box from Kurumaya. There was a hint of offside about it and from different angles I have been convinced of the case both ways. In any case, the goal was given and any Tosu fans moaning about the offside should have a look at their penalty. Four minutes later and the amazing comeback was complete. Our third came from the head of in form Kobayashi and a cross from Kurumaya. Also nice to see first half diver Yoshida on his backside whilst a couple of our goals went in. It's nice that our two Kyushu players did well close to home. A goal from Taniguchi and two assists from Kurumaya. The celebrations were pretty crazy on the terrace. With each goal, more and more people seemed to be getting involved in mass high-fiving. I think I reached double figures on the third goal, accidentally yanked my ticket holder off my neck and sang so loud that I couldn't finish the admittedly slightly over long goal song. We were playing some amazing stuff and looked unstoppable. But of course had also expended a lot of energy on a pretty hot day. Consequently we took our foot off the gas a little and Tosu started to make a few chances. Thankfully Sung-Ryong was there to save us. The game reverted to the first half end-to-end craziness as we tried to recover a little from our exertions. On 81 minutes Oniki brought on Nara for Kurumaya who had run himself into the ground. We reverted to three at the back with Elsinho and Nobori being the wide players. Things got a little scrappy and stretched and we looked to hang on and Tosu struggled to get back in the game. We weren't keeping the ball very well and often ended up hoofing it long, conceding possession and having to quickly regroup to face the next attack. We did hang on though and at the final whistle we celebrated like crazy as most of our players dropped to the pitch exhausted. It had been a crazy game and a very exciting game. The comeback has probably done more for our confidence than a 2-0 victory would have. We're on a nice little run now, so it's almost a shame that we're going to have a bit of a break. But I also think we need a rest as the same players are playing all the games. In any case, it's a pretty exciting time to be a Frontale fan.

Positives and negatives. Let's start negative. I think I said last time that this game would give players a chance to step up and show what they could do. Whilst Ienaga and Miyoshi started and did an ok job, I think this game has shown more that we are still relying on pretty much the same starting 11. The rest of the squad really need to get some form going soon. A couple of injuries could destroy our whole team at the moment as our cover looks to not be up to the job right now. The next Emperor's Cup game will be crucial to try and get something going. But I think I've said that about a few other games already. Also, we were pretty scrappy for long periods of the game. Admittedly it wasn't a penalty, but our defending probably needs to be more consistent, as sometimes we look rock solid and at other times we flap around. Positives. Our run is still going and coming back from a very dodgy position should give us a real confidence boost and shows that we have some steel in the team. Kobayashi is still scoring, Elsinho is off the mark and it was nice to see Taniguchi get one. During our bright period in the second half when we got the goals I’d say we were close to unplayable. I’ve never seen us looking more dangerous. At least not recently anyway. We’ve also negotiated what is usually a tricky away game for us and brought back all three points. And, some results went our way at the top of the table and we’ve moved up to third, only three points off the top. But all this could count for nothing if we lose some of our easier games. There was some talk about us being title contenders, and whilst I think we are in with a shot, we shouldn’t let this good run make us forget some of the rotten results we’ve had earlier in the season when we were on other good runs. So, let’s not get carried away yet as who knows what will happen over the course of the next few months. But at the same time, let’s enjoy our good form and exciting performances whilst they're happening. I can’t imagine in the near future that I’ll go to a game I enjoyed as much as I did this one, but as long as we’re picking up three points each time, I’ll be pretty happy. So, long may the run continue!

Next up, we are visiting Thespakusatsu Gunma in the Emperor’s Cup. This is another one of those games where the squad members have to do something. Thespakusatsu are in pretty bad form at the moment (6 losses out of the last seven), and are rock bottom of J2. I’m sure that Oniki will use plenty of squad players and I hope that we don’t need to bring on the first-teamers to try to secure a victory. Once again, I’d love to see some fringe players and outsiders getting a chance. I hope they can take that chance too. After that, we’ve got no game till the 29th, when we’re at home against Jubilo Iwata. The players are off on a training camp, although I hope there will be a bit of resting along with the training. And we have the supporters event on the 23rd. I’ll try to use the break between games to get some kind of post about the first half of the season up. Personally, I’m pretty satisfied with how things have gone so far, so hope we can head into the break with a good result and performance on Wednesday. Go Frontale! 


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 18. ELSINHO (Yellow card 39')
DF 23. EDUARDO (Yellow card 45+2')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei (on for MIYOSHI 46')
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki (on for KURUMAYA 81')
DF 6. TASAKA Yusuke
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo (on for IENAGA 46')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro

My Frontale Man Of The Match

A few candidates today. Sung-Ryong made a few crucial saves in the second half, Kobayashi had a decent game and kept his streak going. But for the sake of the impact he made, I'll give it to...

NAKAMURA Kengo - we really stepped up a gear when he came on and I'll give him the credit for that. I know he only played 45 minutes but he was full of running the whole time he was on the pitch and he played a big part in the first goal.

HARAKAWA (Tosu) 39' 1-0
CHO (Tosu) 42' 2-0
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 56' 2-1
ELSINHO (Frontale) 58' 2-2
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 62' 2-3


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Vs Urawa Reds (home) 5/7/17, J-League match 13

Kawasaki Frontale 4 - 1 Urawa Reds

The fun continues! After a 5-0 demolition of Kobe at the weekend, few could have expected us to dismiss Urawa with almost the same ease. But that's exactly what happened on Wednesday night at Todoroki. At times like this, it's a real joy to be a frontale fan. Not only are we winning, but we're winning in style against teams we'd expect to be strong, and on this occasion, a particular team that I am not particularly fond of. How long this will last is anyone's guess, as we're off to Kyushu next, where we haven't done very well recently. Fingers crossed I guess!

It was a weird night for a few reasons. We had a total downpour about an hour before kick off which threatened to make things interesting. Pleased to see that they didn't bother watering the pitch after that. The make up of the fans in the stadium was also a bit weird. We seemed to have given Urawa a hell of a lot of tickets for this game. Or maybe they were in areas that they perhaps shouldn't have been. Either way, one whole end of the stadium was red. I can't imagine Urawa doing the same thing for opposition fans. But as it turned out, this just meant that there were more if their fans to see them get totally destroyed by us. It's such a joy to type those words! I guess I should also once again make my complaint about their fans. Of course we're all aware of their reputation for being the most hooligan like fans in the league, being partial for a rumble and for also enjoying some casual and not so casual racism. But I find them pretty overrated when it comes to actually supporting. Sure they make a load of noise when they get going, but they really don't bother to get behind their team very often, and the rare support they do give tends to be particularly dirgey, if such a word exists. They started the game booing our possession. Guess it's more fun for them to hate the opposition than to support their own team. One of our players in particular seemed to be getting some grief from them. You can decide for yourself if it's a coincidence that it happened to be the one that's Korean. Anyway, enough whinging about them and on to making the most of an opportunity to gloat over a very good victory.

The starting line up was unsurprisingly unchanged. It would be harsh to change a team that had just won 5-0. There was one change on the bench though. Nara has apparently picked up another injury (hopefully nothing serious), and his place in the bench was taken by Itakura. Also present on the bench was 'Urawa killer' Moriya, who always seems to score against them.  Presumably he'd be deployed if we needed a magical winning goal. The ref was Iemoto. Another one who I don't like, and whilst I had plenty of opportunities to moan at him, I'm not particularly upset looking back. We started the game poorly and were on the back foot immediately as they had a few chances. But we just about held firm. They seemed to have come with a physical game plan in mind, presumably to unsettle us and it worked early on. It didn’t take us too long to find our feet though, and after 16 minutes we took the lead. At the time I thought it might have had an element of offside about it, but watching the replay it seems we were ok. It was a fairly simple goal for us and refreshing to see us mixing it up a little and going a touch more direct. Abe passed the ball to Kobayashi on the edge of the box and his turn fooled the defenders. His finish was nice and we were a goal up. At this stage the game was fairly open, with both teams making chances. Urawa’s finishing in the first half though was pretty bad. Plenty of shots were flying well wide. But it was a bit cagey to be honest, with both teams probably realising the significance of the match. On 28 minutes we were two up and once again it was a direct move, this time from a counter attack with Edu winning the ball as Urawa entered our half. From there it went to Oshima, who then gave it to Kengo who played a lovely through ball for Abe to race on to and smash home from the edge of the box. A nice finish and a nice birthday present from Kengo to Abe on his special day. It’s weird that we had cut through them so easily on two occasions as they had a lot of players behind the ball for most of the game. Maybe they had come looking for a draw and hoping to snatch something on the counter attack. Urawa were stunned by this goal I think. Their manager Petrovic, who I have for some reason taken a dislike to, was flapping around on the touchline like one of those air powered dancing men that you sometimes see outside petrol stations or car lots. He seemed to be having a good old moan, but I don’t think he had anything to moan about from the point of view of the ref’s decisions. Perhaps he was unhappy with his team’s defending. The rest of the half was pretty ponderous from Urawa, both in the stand and on the pitch. They were playing the ball along their back line a lot, apparently unaware of the score. The fans were mostly silent, occasionally breaking into a boo. Probably the final highlight of the first half was a crunching ’tackle’ from Kurumaya on Moriwaki. I wouldn’t say I normally enjoy fouls, but when it’s on the loathsome Moriwaki, I think most people would make an exception. 

The second half started with a sub from us. Hasegawa came on for Nobori. Not sure if this was tactical or for an injury. I thought Nobori had done a decent job in the first half though, but am always happy to see Hasegawa on the pitch. Once again we didn’t start the half particularly well, but the game was swinging from end to end. On 52 minutes Urawa had a great chance but were denied by a nice double save from Sung-Ryong. As the game went on he rescued us a few more times to be honest, as Urawa were turning the screw a bit. We were probably guilty of over-playing things rather than just having a shot (as usual!). On 70 minutes we had another breakaway and a great chance to finish them off but Kobayashi was a little off target (presumably getting those bad shots out of the way before his next goal, as he seems to do). A couple of minutes later it looked like we would be regretting that miss as Urawa got one back. Makino managed to get into the box pretty much unnoticed and head in a corner. We were starting to wobble. We were making chances on the break but Urawa were starting to boss the game. Neto missed a bit of a sitter. Seems he’s better at hammering them in from distance. On 79 minutes things swung back in our favour. A long goal kick from Sung-Ryong was headed on by Ienaga (who’d just replaced Kengo) and Kobayashi raced through on goal past their defenders and was pushed to the ground in the box by Endo. I think there’s not much doubt about the decision. I was pleased to see Endo off, as he’d been playing pretty well. After interminable delaying tactics from Urawa and then apparently the ref (!), Kobayashi stepped up and banished the ghosts of his last penalty miss against Cerezo. I’m not sure he meant to put it in off the post, but I guess it added to the tension and excitement… This seemed to be the cue for quite a few of the Urawa fans to head for the exits. I guess they weren’t really doing much anyway. The goal really switched the focus and we scored again a couple of minutes later. Hasegawa received the ball in his own half and ran towards the Urawa goal. He had a few options and I guess these helped to open up space for him to keep running. After a quick step-over he smacked it into the corner from just outside the box leaving Urawa’s captain on his backside. Good on him! We saw out the rest of the game pretty comfortably as it seemed Urawa had realised that the game was up. On 88 minutes, Tasaka replaced Kurumaya and took his place at left back. Another string to the Tasaka bow! There was also a bit of a dodgy tackle from Edu who got Lee right on the knee with a high boot. Of course I would say this, and I’m sure many opposition fans would disagree, but I think it was merely clumsy from Edu rather than malicious. He’s not that kind of player and the ref only gave him a yellow so it seemed he agreed. All in all, a pretty satisfying victory.

Positives and negatives. I’m going to leave the negatives today. I felt so good after the game and intend to keep that positivity going. Positives. A huge victory against a team I really dislike and who will probably be up there come the end of the season. Nine goals in two games! Kobayashi with another couple means that his confidence must be growing. Ienaga had a decent impact for the limited time he was on the pitch. I think as soon as his first goal goes in, he’ll really step things up. Hope it happens soon. Another great goal from Hasegawa. Basically, just loads of positive feeling about the result. It’s been a decent first half of the season I think. Maybe we’d have liked to have been a little higher up the table, but our ACL commitments and continued progress have maybe taken the edge off us a little in the league. But definitely something to build on in the second half. I worry a little what might happen if we get some injuries in crucial positions, as it’s pretty much the same eleven every week at the moment. I’m sure there are people on the bench willing to step up though. Guess it’s a matter of whether they are ready to do so.

Next up, we’re away at Sagan Tosu. I’m actually writing this in a hotel in Fukuoka in an effort to get the blog post up before the next game. Pretty hectic schedule at the moment. I would imagine the players agree! After that, we’re away again next Wednesday at Thespakusatsu Gunma in the Emperor’s Cup. I guess this means some players will be getting a rest. Maybe it'll be the first game that Kurumaya doesn’t play a part in. In any case, these are two pretty exciting away trips for me so I’m looking forward to both matches. Just hope that the results match my excitement. Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 23. EDUARDO (Yellow card 86')
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for KURUMAYA 88')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for NOBORIZATO 46')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for NAKAMURA 76')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Could easily have been Kobayashi as his two goals changed the game, but he missed a few sitters too. Equally, Neto had a great game, but his sitter miss took the shine off a bit. The most crucial performance, however, was probably right at the back.

JUNG Sung-Ryong - Another solid performance in goal. Perhaps could have done better for their goal, but made up for it by saving us on plenty of other occasions.

KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 16' 1-0
ABE (Frontale) 29' 2-0
MAKINO (Urawa) 73' 2-1
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 82' 3-1
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 84' 4-1


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. There's also now some other match related content exclusive to the Frontale channel, so that's the bottom video.


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Vs Vissel Kobe (home) 1/7/17, J-League match 17

Kawasaki Frontale 5 - 0 Vissel Kobe

Last weekend saw us back at home and once again up against opposition from Kansai, this time Vissel Kobe. I feel that the away game against Vissel last year was one of last season’s darkest hours. It was a tough trip from about 5 minutes into the game. Away games are usually a joy, sometimes in spite of the result or performance, but that was a stinker. So Saturday gave us an opportunity to exact some revenge, and it’s fair to say we got it in some style. This was a new high scoring record for us this season. Presumably, a result of me saying recently that we aren’t scoring much this season. My talent for reverse predictions (as I am going to generously call them), is strong recently. With that in mind, I guess I should predict a run of defeats and see what happens.

Our starting line up has been so stable the last few games, (after a torrid start to the season injury wise), that I probably don't even need to mention who started. The only change to the match day squad was Morimoto replacing Miyoshi on the bench. One thing of note was us wearing our away kit at home. This was probably because Arrows had sponsored the game. The revolving front four, which seems to alternate between working well and misfiring was having a good day and they made a bright start creating a few early chances. Kobe, who are undergoing something of an injury crisis themselves started the game in combative mode getting a few early crunching tackles in and earning themselves an early booking. Contrary to some of the match reports, I felt that everything was coming down the left for us, with Nobori and Kurumaya overlapping and creating quite a few headaches for the Kobe defence. An early let off for Kobe came from a lovely move which ended with Nobori crossing and Abe doing a magnificent fresh air shot as the ball trundled past him. He made up for this on the ninth minute though, as we took the lead. A great looping pass from Kengo through the middle of the pitch (completely contradicting what I said above about the left) finished with Kobayashi unselfishly squaring the ball for Abe to tap in. It was a very nice team move and whilst it was an easy finish, you have to be in the right position to finish so easily, so full credit to all involved. Ten minutes later we doubled our lead and it was Abe again. Once again it was through the middle (maybe everything was going down the left apart from the goals…) and unusually for us was a quick break on the counter attack. Kobayashi passed to Kengo and as the two of them and Abe raced forward it seemed inevitable that we would score. Kobayashi opened up some space for Kengo to square the ball to Abe who dramatically smashed the ball into the top corner, slightly worryingly, as the keeper had already committed himself and the goal was gaping. But it went in, so even better that it looked fancy. There was a lot of space as one of the Kobe defenders had pulled up injured as we attacked (get well soon!), so we were fortunate in that respect. But, we were ripping through them when attacking, so it was definitely coming. Abe has now scored seven so far this season, equaling his highest goal scoring haul from all his previous seasons. It wasn't all one way though. Kobe we're making some chances of their own, but our centre backs were holding firm. Edu put in a series of great tackles throughout the game. Neto and Oshima were also going a good job in a solid looking central midfield. Oshima's passing was a little dodgy though, giving the ball away a few times. There was a lot of counter attacking going on and the game was swinging from end to end. The main difference though, was that we were cutting through them and they were having a few problems at the back, and that when they attacked we were snuffing most things out before they could get too close to our goal. All in all, a pretty satisfying first half. We probably should have scored more but I'll settle for two unanswered goals and a good feeling in the stands.

The second half continued in much the same way. There were no early substitutions and we kept making chances (12 in the second half if the stats were correct). Kobayashi was doing his usual thing of missing a few easy chances before building up to score a cracker. Sometimes he seems so unlucky, going on a great dribble only to have the ball bobble or be nicked from him just as he's about to shoot. I guess it's confidence, and hopefully after this game that will be increasing. He scored his first goal of the game on 68 minutes. A powerful shot from Elsinho was parried by their keeper and the ball fell for Abe on the edge of the box. He floated a lovely ball in to Kobayashi, who wrong-footed the defenders and headed home in loads of space. The first change of the game came on 78 minutes (pretty late for Oniki) with Hasegawa replacing Nobori who had had a very good game, full of energy as usual. It made sense as we'd gone a bit flat and lost our way slightly. Not saying we looked like we were in trouble, as Kobe didn't really offer that much, but our attacking had lost its edge a little. On 81 minutes we got our fourth, a nice header from Taniguchi from a Kengo cross. It kind of came from a corner actually (hence Taniguchi being in the box), as Abe’s initial shot was parried out for Kengo to curl the ball back in again. The Kobe fans tried in vain to inspire their team with a rousing choruses of 'The Bloody Entertainer' and 'Go Bloody West' (these are honestly the actual names of those songs and have nothing to do with how I feel about them). 'The Entertainer' seemed particularly ironic given what their team were serving up for them. Or possibly they were singing for us and for Abe, who was a constant threat all over the pitch. He'd scored a couple, got an assist for our third and was defending when he needed to. A complete performance. Although he still had time for one more assist. This came in the 94th minute and was rubbing salt in the wounds for Kobe, who’d had a bit of a nightmare. Abe drove a low cross in from the left and Kobayashi prodded home from close range, again, unmarked. Not sure if this was a reflection on the Kobe defence or our attacking. Think the truth probably is that they were having a bit of a nightmare and we were on top of our game. We certainly didn’t play like that against Sanfrecce who are significantly lower down in the table. Our attack was on fire. So many different players had decent chances and we really could have scored more. All in all, a very satisfying day.

It seems a little churlish to do the negatives portion of positives and negatives for a game that we won 5-0, but I’ve started this tradition so I’d better keep it going, I guess. Let’s start negative. Actually maybe there aren’t really any. Guess we could say that we’re still missing some easy chances but realistically this is always going to happen and when we put five in, it’s hard to complain about the ones that didn’t hit the back of the net. Positives. Great performance from Abe, all over the pitch, scoring and assisting. Very pleased to see Kobayashi get a couple. Hope it boosts his confidence, as he’s been playing well, but finishing badly recently. We looked solid all over the pitch, with any minor errors being made up for by other members of the team. Edu put in some great tackles and let’s be honest, it’s not often that you come away from a 5-0 victory remembering great tackles. All round good team performance and a morale boosting truckload of goals. Also we seem to not really be picking up too many bookings recently which is also nice. This was another game with none. An all round fun day!

Next up, we have Urawa at home in the rescheduled 13th game of the season. The game is tonight. Sorry it took me so long to get this post up. Busy time at the moment! They will be the last team for us to play in the first half of the league this year. Let’s hope it will be unlucky 13 for them rather than us. We both won at the weekend, but before then they had been going through a bit of a sticky patch. Whilst I would be delighted if they resume that sticky patch against us, it seems that they do tend to get frustratingly good results against us so I can’t get carried away with optimism. It will provide an interesting appetizer for our two ACL games against them coming up in August and September. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. After that we’re away to Sagan Tosu. I’m looking forward to this trip as it’s a new ground and a new prefecture for me. Two wins would be lovely! Go Frontale!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
FW 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for ELSINHO 84')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
FW 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for NOBORIZATO 78')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro (on for NAKAMURA 83')

My Frontale Man Of The Match

Satisfyingly, there were plenty of good performances in this game, but one really stood out, and not just for what the stats show.

ABE Hiroyuki - Two goals and two assists whilst tracking back and covering defensively, it could only be him really.

ABE (Frontale) 9' 1-0
ABE (Frontale) 20' 2-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 68' 3-0
TANIGUCHI (Frontale) 81' 4-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 90+4' 5-0


The Frontale youtube channel usually has longer highlights provided by DAZN, but given that last year's highlights got wiped when the broadcaster got changed, I'm going to stick with the official J League ones. But you can watch the longer highlights here if you want. There's also now some other match related content exclusive to the Frontale channel, so that's the bottom video.