Kawasaki Frontale 2 - 1 FC Tokyo
Well, if ever there were a match report blog post that is going to be overshadowed by current events this is the one. And it’s a shame, as this was a pretty dominant performance, much more than the scoreline suggests. But given that Kengo today announced that he is going to retire at the end of the season, the details of this match will perhaps be forgotten. However, Kengo did score an absolute blaster and hit the bar with another almost blaster, so perhaps it’s appropriate that the two things coincided. We came into this game needing five more wins to secure the title and looking for some revenge after we were recently undone by Tokyo in the Levain Cup. Both of these aims were accomplished, but if we’re being ultra picky, we really should have destroyed Tokyo in this match. More on that later. This was a very dominant performance and hopefully that will keep us pushing on over the rest of the season. Plenty left to do, but the finish line is in sight. Please don’t stumble! Anyway, here’s what we might have learned from this match, plus a little tribute.
Kengoal the legend -
It’s pretty sad that Kengo has decided to retire, but pretty good that he’ll hopefully get to do it with a third league title and an Emperor’s Cup final appearance if we get through the semi final against lower league opposition. There’s not many original things you can say about Kengo really. He’s a club legend, one club man, crucial player for so many seasons, oldest MVP record holder and he’s still doing the business at the age of 40. His goal in this game was a beast of a hit and we’ve always been able to rely on him to score on these kind of occasions. Criminally over looked on numerous occasions for the national team, and turned down potential exciting transfers due to club loyalty, there’s not much more he could do to make people like him even more than they do. After coming back from a horrible injury last season it might come as a surprise to see him retire so soon afterwards, but I guess the prospect of getting another one must have been quite off-putting. Apparently he said he was always gong to retire at the age of 40, and the injury looked like it could have potentially ruined that plan. It says something about the man that he worked so hard to get back on the pitch and now hopefully he’ll be able to finish his career in the way he would like to, rather than have an injury finish it for him. Whether he remains at the club in some capacity, I’m not sure. I guess there’s a danger that if he were to eventually go into management and take over the club as some people would like, that things could somehow end on a downer, so perhaps he doesn’t want to do that. There’s also no guarantee that he actually wants to go into management I guess. I realize this isn’t the great tribute that the man deserves, but I’m not very good at writing these things and there will probably be a better time and place to do that anyway. I’m wearing my old Kengo t-shirt now though as my tribute to the great man. Bravo!
The penalty -
Back to the game. The main talking point will probably be the penalty, I guess. Thankfully we were given it, as up till that point we’d been foiled by the woodwork and an irritatingly good performance by the Tokyo keeper Hatano who was having a blinder. It was down the other end of the pitch so I couldn’t really see it. The replays on DAZN are not particularly helpful either I think. I don’t think you can make a definitive decision either way from them unless there’s an angle I haven’t seen. It looked a bit soft, but the ref was close and seemed pretty sure. It was the one time he managed to find his cards. There also didn’t seem to be a great deal of complaint from the Tokyo players. Certainly less complaint than for other fouls. And even if you think that it wasn’t a penalty, you’d have to admit that Tokyo dodged a bullet when they hand balled in the box on 40 minutes. Is that balance? I’m not sure. Ienaga did a lovely job of putting it away, in spite of some pretty disgusting attempts at interference and distraction from the Tokyo players. He completely gave Hatano the eyes and then put it the other way. Of course I couldn’t see that as I could only see the back of his head, but certainly that was clear from the replays.
Matsuo and Tokyo, a love story -
On a similar but perhaps slightly contradictory note, this was an absolute disaster of a performance from the ref Matsuo. Perhaps Tokyo and Frontale fans would agree about that. Aside from the penalty, he gave them absolutely everything I thought. He also let them get away with absolutely everything. Tokyo aren’t really a team of nice guys. In fact three of them are right up there in my list of most despised footballers. One of those Leandro was pretty rubbish in this game I thought. Perhaps his ‘I can’t say anything (add emojis)’ twitter personality has transformed into ‘I can’t do anything (except foul, dive and moan) (add emojis)’. Long time readers of this blog will know that I have a longstanding dislike for him. You’ve got to wonder if the reason Kashima let him go out on loan had something to do with his personality. Certainly he seems to be influencing his Brazilian team mates. Artur Silva, personification of a foul (as described in the Levain post), followed Leandro’s lead with the on field punching recently. (Nice work from the J League only banning him for one game. What part of a punch doesn’t go down as violent conduct?). And now the Leandro arseholery influence seems to be rubbing off on Diego Oliveira, who until now I had thought was a reasonable kind of guy with an admittedly infuriating penalty run up. In this match Oliveira seemed to be the one who was up for an on field punch as he squared up the referee after clearly fouling one of our players. No card for either the foul or the ref abuse. But this was just standard Matsuo fare. A complete disregard for, or perhaps lack of knowledge of the rules of the game and constantly getting in the way of our passes. I remember one particularly frustrating incident where Ao won the ball in front of our box, turned looking to pass and saw his path blocked perfectly by an oblivious Matsuo. I couldn’t remember him being a disaster of a ref so I looked him up on previous posts on here and found the lovely sentences ‘The ref in this game was Matsuo. He was atrocious.’ and ‘It’s been a while since we’ve had such a rotten refereeing performance in one of our games’, so it looks like he has previous. The 91st minute award of a free kick to us was a rarity but he even managed to mess that up. Damiao running through the middle with no covering defenders is wrestled to the floor and not even a card is awarded. I dunno, but surely a DOGSO, wasn’t it? It’s weird that it was again Watanabe who fouled (as he did for the penalty) but he argued a lot more about this decision which was just completely clear cut as far I can see. Unless he was arguing that he should be sent off, in which case I can understand it. Quite how he felt it wasn’t a foul I don’t know. He pretty much had Damiao’s shirt off. Tokyo basically kicked us around the pitch and moaned incessantly but apparently we gave away more free kicks. I dunno. Matsuo, do us a favour and retire please.
Lots and lots of shots and shots -
27 shots from us in this game!!! Hooray! Only nine on target though unfortunately which suggests that maybe Hatano wasn’t as much of a hero as I felt he was. We were totally in control of this game for most of the 90 minutes which was lovely. Tokyo seemed to be using the same tactics as last time with a backline of 8 and no pressing or attempts to get the ball from us as we passed it across our backline. Sure, they had a few moments and a few chances and our defence looked a bit of a mess at times, but they really shouldn’t have got anything from this game. You could say we gifted them their goal as it was a bit slack for us to give Diego so much space and then for Sung-Ryong to get beaten at his near post was unfortunate. It did feel though that our problem would be at the other end, as try as we might we couldn’t really hit the target. They were quite a few wayward shots from quite a few culprits. We were playing some lovely football right up till the shooting part and then fluffing our lines. Thankfully Kengo was on hand to shoot on target (and almost remove Hatano’s head too). In the same way as in previous games the scoreline hasn’t seemed to reflect the game. It really felt like we should have won by a bigger margin. But, don’t get me wrong I’m delighted with the three points though. Doesn’t look like our goal difference will end up better than the goals scored column of the next highest scoring team though. Which is a shame, but clearly the league isn’t won yet and finishing first is much more important than some weird goal difference stat. A goal difference of +50 right now is pretty nice though isn’t it?
Other stuff -
This was the first game with away fans present. We still can’t sing though. The fact that opposition fans were present gave the game a really weird feel. Normally there is some kind of competition between the two sets of fans, but it really doesn’t work when the competition is over who can clap the loudest. I think we still haven’t really got to grips with the no singing support to be honest. It’s pretty uncoordinated and there are still long periods of the game that progress in near silence. Kengo was doing his usual thing of trying to gee up the crowd, but there’s not a lot we can really do I guess. The next game will see the return of a drummer which aside from the arguments people have been having online, I think will really help us. The whole increasing speed of clapping thing peters out way too quickly. Guess we’re a bit too enthusiastic with the acceleration. There are a variety of opinions about the Kawasaki Kazoku call leaders, but I think we need them. As for the supposed preferential treatment they get, I’m not going to comment as I don’t really know much about it. Some structure will be nice though. Still not sure how to clap out ‘you’re not clapping anymore’ though, as I wanted to do yesterday when we took the lead. Yesterday we were sitting more centrally in the back stand, an area that I had always imagined to be quite sedate, but was a hotbed of vigilante vocal exclamations. Sitting next to us was an old man who clearly seemed unaware that we weren’t supposed to be emoting. His relentlessly positive shouts were quite nice though. We also had a lady a bit behind us who was abusing the referee a bit. ‘Matsuo Jyamaaa!’ My kind of lady! Perhaps the increased attendance has seen more people going to games who are not used to corona football behaviour. Or perhaps people are getting fed up with the restrictions. Or they just can’t control themselves. Whether this all will increase with the drummer back I don’t know. I’m really looking forward to being able to sing though. It would be a real shame if we couldn’t do it before the end of the season. Leandro Damiao now seems to have abandoned his overhead kicks and now wants to score every goal with a back heel. I wish he’d just smashed it when he had the chance in the second half but they do look nice when they go in, don’t they? Good thing I never got round to making my Damiao over head kick flag. And finally, well played Hatano, but shut up mate. He sounded like an agitated guard dog for long periods of this game and was getting quite a few laughs from the crowd. Close your eyes and picture an mardy Alsatian barking through the living room window at someone riding backwards and forwards slowly on a mobility scooter and you’ll get the idea. A far cry from Diego Oliveira’s more high pitched teenage girl in a haunted house screech. Should also mention Damiao’s instinctive squeal of pain every time he’s fouled in the interest of some balance.
Well, I’ll take that! Four more wins and we’ve done it. And now we really need to do it for Kengo. Revenge was achieved and as well as defeating them we also mathematically ended FC Tokyo’s slim title hopes. Lovely thing to do to your local rivals! I’m pleased we probably won’t be facing Hatano again this season though. For more than one reason. Next up we have Consadole Sapporo, who definitely won’t be coming to Todoroki and shutting up shop. Hopefully we’ll have our shooting boots a bit better adjusted for that game. I suspect we’ll see a shuffling of the starting line up as that game comes quite soon (on Tuesday), and we didn’t see many substitutions till quite late in this game, so I guess that means that people who played a lot in this game might make way for some fresher legs. Oh, and I forgot to mention, that’s now 12 league wins in a row so another new club record. Go Frontale!
GK 1. Sung-Ryong JUNG
DF 13. YAMANE Miki
DF 4. JESIEL
DF 5. TANIGUCHI Shogo
DF 2. NOBORIZATO Kyohei
MF 6. MORITA Hidemasa
MF 25. TANAKA Ao
MF 14. NAKAMURA Kengo
FW 41. IENAGA Akihiro
FW 9. LEANDRO DAMIAO
FW 18. MITOMA Kaoru
GK 27. TANNO Kenta
DF 7. KURUMAYA Shintaro (on for NOBORIZATO 90+5')
MF 8. WAKIZAKA Yasuto (on for NAKAMURA 77')
FW 19. SAITO Manabu (on for IENAGA 90+5')
FW 20. MIYASHIRO Taisei
FW 30. HATATE Reo
FW 34. YAMAMURA Kazuya (on for LEANDRO DAMIAO 90+5')
My Frontale Man Of The Match
The defence was pretty dodgy in this game so it isn’t going to anyone there. Mitoma seems to be coming back into some form. Ienaga, penalty aside seemed to be slightly off in most of the things he did. Like he hadn’t been calibrated properly. Damiao did pretty well with everything apart from shooting, which was a bit of a bummer. Think it’s got to go to one of the midfield who all played pretty well and it’s no surprise as this was where the nicest stuff we were playing was played. It’s harsh on the other two, but with the hand of history on my shoulder (or something like that), it’s going to…
NAKAMURA Kengo - beauty of a goal, really unlucky with the one that hit the bar. You could really see he was up for it. Didn’t look like someone playing on their 40th birthday and will be a great loss to us, but everything that he has taught the rest of the players will be a benefit that goes on giving for years to come. Bravo!