Sunday 3 December 2017

Vs Omiya Ardija (home) 2/12/17, J-League match 34

Kawasaki Frontale 5 - 0 Omiya Ardija

I don’t really know what to write for this blog post. This was an amazing day and a great way to finish the season. After the disappointing end to both our Levain and ACL campaigns it was fantastic to take a title that I think the majority of us would have preferred to win. This was a pretty tense day and it was difficult to focus on our game. Consequently, this will be a post light on detail regarding the actual game and packed with hyperbole and excitement. I’m going to write a season round up post soon(ish) so I’ll speak more about the year in general in that post. Here I’ll try to concentrate on what happened on Saturday. Oh, and apologies. I think the photos are worse than normal on this post.

It was a nice day for a game of football with the chilly temperatures being canceled out by bright sunshine. The stadium was packed with Frontale fans and Omiya also filled their section for what will be their last game in J1 for a while. At the start of the day, both teams were lying one place off the edge of the league, us, one off the top and them, one off the bottom. So on paper this should have been an easy game for us. But we never deal particularly well with games that we should have no problem with. We also had to deal with the potentially trickier matter of Kashima needing to be prevented from winning their away game to Jubilo. Our superior goal difference meant that a win for us and a draw for them would see us crowned champions. But they always seem to grind out a 1-0 when they have to. They failed to do this at home against Kashiwa the previous weekend and this gave us a glimmer of hope and perhaps turned up the heat a little on them. But they are Kashima and don’t choke in the way that we do. It helped perhaps that Jubilo had a slim chance of getting into the ACL if they won the game. Anyway, back to our half of the deal. We started with the same eleven and bench as we did at Urawa. We didn’t exactly dazzle in Saitama but we got the three points. Today the result was more dazzling although the details of the game are already a bit of a mystery to me as it was hard to concentrate given the potential outcomes. We made a great start going a goal up through Abe after just a minute. This took the pressure off a bit. Omiya were playing ok but didn’t look like they’d be able to take any of the chances they were making. They did a good job of getting the ball to the right areas but then either lost it, or blasted it over the bar or wide. Not sure what has gone wrong for them this year, but I guess losing Ienaga to us was a blow. We were doing better, controlling things and making chances but I felt that everyone was trying to set up Kobayashi. Presumably the top scorer chart was something that was on the player’s minds. This is probably the last detail I remember about the match. I’m not a particularly superstitious person, but when it comes to football it’s easy to find significance in the smallest of things. After some rotten Saitama stadium games I decided to not wear my shirt and go with my Frontale t-shirt instead. After we won that game, it meant that I’d have to repeat it for the Omiya game. I also never like to go to the toilet during the game in case I miss a goal. On 45 minutes I decided to break this habit as I felt that us getting a goal and me missing it would be a worthy sacrifice in the circumstances. So, yeah, I’m claiming credit for Kobayashi’s first goal. As I joined the queue for the toilet the crowd noise grew as an attack progressed and the ball hit the net. So, two up at half time and time to check the Kashima score. Still 0-0. So far so good. Also Cerezo hadn’t scored which meant that Kobayashi was catching Sugimoto in the top scorers chart. The other scores weren’t shown at half time on the big screen. I guess some people didn’t want to know.

For the second half, I didn’t particularly want to be staring at my phone constantly refreshing the page with the Jubilo Kashima game on it. I vowed to only check on 15, 30, 40 and 45 minutes. It was still difficult to concentrate on the game though as there was a big knot in my stomach. My second half notes are non-existent. Kobayashi scored again on 60 minutes pretty much sealing our side of the deal. Omiya weren’t going to come back and score three. This goal came from another Ienaga assist (the one I missed was too). Kobayashi was now equal with Sugimoto. Kashima were still drawing. All good… Similarly at 75 minutes. Omiya had made a few subs but both teams were going through the motions a little. We won a penalty for a foul on Kurumaya around the 80 minute mark and the celebrations in the crowd for winning the penalty showed that the fans were also aware of what was going on in the top scorers chart. Naturally, it was Kobayashi’s to take, and he put it away pretty confidently. Now we had something else to be pleased about when the inevitable Kashima winner came around. The goal prompted a few substitutions from us. Tasaka came on for Elsinho shortly afterwards. Then, after Neto was fouled in the middle of our half, he was replaced by Moriya. Not sure if this was due to him being unable to continue, but he walked off the pitch and celebrated pretty comfortably later, so maybe it was planned before the foul. Then, on 89 minutes Hasegawa came on for Abe. Omiya got a second yellow red card shortly afterwards, some more rancid icing on their rotten cake of a day. I love seeing Frontale score plenty of goals but you had to feel for the Omiya fans who were seeing their relegated team signing off in quite a disastrous fashion. The fourth official signaled five minutes of injury time which seemed a little unnecessary as both teams were probably done for the day. This was five minutes of me refreshing on my phone, counting the minutes off without knowing how long Kahsima and Jubilo would be playing for. Still no goals. Still plenty of tension. Substitute Hasegawa wanted to keep things exciting. Ienaga played him through and he comfortably finished at the near post. His celebration turned into delight in the crowd. The ref blew the whistle in our game and apparently at Jubilo too around the same time. The impossible had happened and we’d snatched the league on the last day. There’s a good video of the closing moments here. There were plenty of embraces, high fives and tears in the crowd. Finally we had an opportunity to throw those blue streamers from the stands. As our league victory was confirmed on the screen we also learned that Kobayashi had taken the top scorer award. Quite a day. Unsurprisingly the celebrations were lengthy and exhilarating. One of my personal favourite moments was seeing Edu and Rhayner running to the crowd to pick up some Brazilian flags and then Edu cavorting across the pitch with his flag which was still attached to its pole.

It was particularly nice to see Rhayner there as it had been announced the day before that he was to return to his parent club. It’s sad, but it probably makes sense as he has shown signs of good stuff but hasn’t quite made the mark we might have hoped. He’s certainly well loved though and it was fitting that he was the one to lead the Vai La after the presentation ceremony. The presentation ceremony itself was a bit of a let down as they’d clearly sent the trophy to Shizuoka. Understandable I guess, but not sure why they couldn’t make some kind of plastic mock up or something rather than having us celebrate by raising a piece of cardboard with a picture of the trophy on it. But still, we’ll take it. It didn’t happen on our 20th anniversary as people had hoped, but we’d saved it a year and won it fair and square, rather than through the ridiculous play off system they used last year. Great times!

Positives and negatives. Ah, forget it. We won the league! There’s not much else to say! It may have only been on goal difference, but this goal difference was 17 better than the next team. We had scored the most goals, we were only 2 short of conceding the least and we’d comfortably beaten the second placed team twice. YEAH!

Next up, a satisfying break. Next Sunday there’s a title winning parade around Kawasaki. But other than that, guess we’re all going to enjoy what we’ve achieved and enjoy the break. Oh, and probably a lot of self-indulgent enjoyment, watching and sharing videos on the internet. There seem to be plenty of Frontale haters on twitter and I can’t imagine this is going to change their opinions in any way, but to be honest, I’m just going to try to ignore them and enjoy the moment. Like I said above, I’ll do some season end posts on here like I did last year and this year I’m even going to try a little fan survey to see what people thought about this year. We’ll see how that goes. Normally I’d finish with a Go Frontale! but on this occasion I’ll alter it a little and end with GO (enjoy your victory and the well-deserved break) FRONTALE!


GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 3. NARA Tatsuki
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro
MF 10. OSHIMA Ryota
MF 41. IENAGA Akihiro
MF 8. ABE Hiroyuki

GK 30. ARAI Shota
MF 6. TASAKA Yusuke (on for ELSINHO 82')
FW 9. MORIMOTO Takayuki
MF 16. HASEGAWA Tatsuya (on for ABE 89')
MF 19. MORIYA Kentaro (on for NETO 84')

My Frontale Man Of The Match
Yeah, I know this is a bit of a cop out to award this twice in one match, but hell, I've done it before and I'll probably do it again. Ienaga deserves a mention again for the multiple assists and to be honest everyone did a good job, although after we were a couple of goals ahead there wasn't actually that much for them to do. But for the somewhat unlikely way he managed to get a second trophy we weren't expecting, it has to go to...

KOBAYASHI Yu - Three goals in the final game to go from joint second to first in the scoring charts is a pretty amazing achievement, but well deserved as he had loads more assists than any of the other contenders. Congratulations!

The whole squad - Not only for this game of course, but for the whole season. We've had plenty of injuries and suspensions this year and many players have been called on to do their bit. Seems like we have a group of players who get on really well and at times have played some amazing football. Bravo to you all!

ABE (Frontale) 1’ 1-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 45+2’ 2-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 60’3-0
KOBAYASHI (Frontale) 81’ (PEN) 4-0
HASEGAWA (Frontale) 90+6’ 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. And we have that extra footage video again at the bottom.

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