Sorry for the lack of reporting lately – I’ve been busy with band-related stuff and to top it all off I was away this weekend so I didn’t get to attend the Chiba game. Fortunately previous guest writer Andre was, so here’s his report:
I would like to start by thanking Asahi [one of the leaders in LA12 – ed.] for helping me get into the visitor side of Fukuda Denshi after I had to buy a home ticket on account of the visitor side being sold out. Thanks Asahi!
An interesting point has to be made in that every single bottom team relegated to J2 from J1 for next season (Kashiwa, Oita, and JEF) all won their games this weekend. As the season comes to a close these bottom teams seem to have been re-energized, having nothing left to lose. FCT got beaten squarely by pride. The JEF fans were loud and made us have to scream and shout even louder to get FCT into the match. Going into this game FCT has had a difficult run of play post Nabisco Cup, and it seems to have taken its toll on Jofoku`s men. After barely beating Thespa Kusatsu 3-2 (Emperor`s Cup), and the loss to Urawa in J1 play and losing against Vegata Sendai (coincidentally a team going into J1 next season) the week before in the EC, FCT needed more than a week of rest for this game against JEF. Add the fact that Jofoku has a stretched squad already, tired legs and having won some major silverware maybe the team is already looking forward to next season and post-season player moves? It sure seemed like it. Everything was even during the first half. JEF came out strong,fast, and loose, finding space practically everywhere. This lead JEF`s Tatsunori to score on a cross from Baiano in the box. Defensively Bruno was the only starting defenceman who played strong adding a more attacking role. JEF pressed and pressed, capitalizing on a sloppy FCT defence, and midfield. The only error of the game by the JEF defence allowed Akamine to score, slipping it under the JEF goalkeeper. 1-1 at halftime.
The second half was an incredibly different affair. Again the FCT defence looked like it didn’t make the trip from Tokyo. With less than five minutes played in the second half another cross into the box got Baiano a free header that Gonda could do nothing about. Shocking to say the least. But we had 40 plus minutes to play and maybe to salvage a point, right? Nope. The team seemed to unravel a little bit after the JEF goal. There were times of attack but Hirayama was stymied every time he tried to play the ball. Jofoku brought in Hanyu for Otake, nothing. Tatsuya even hit the post. The change, and what proved to me that the squad is so stretched at this point in the season, was that Yusuke Kondo was brought in. To do what? Score goals? I realize that he hasn`t played very much this season but having watched him against Thespa he is, to put it bluntly, really bad. He is too big and too slow to attack the way he does. FCT showed against JEF that it needs fast strikers to play the ball into the box and pressure the defence. It is what FCT is good at and what gets points on the board. No Ishikawa and no Cabore. No speed. Hirayama does not have the speed and neither does Yusuke. Both are more attacking mid fielders at best, poachers. Neither of them have the burst to get them over the top. Tatsuya does but is relegated to the outside to feed Yusuke and Hirayama. It wasn`t working, and I beg Jofoku to seriously look at what opportunities Tatsuya has to offer in a more striking role for the upcoming games against Kobe and Niigata.
Finally, the ref was lucky to get out of the game without us running onto the pitch and throwing him out of the stadium. Near the final ten minutes it seemed as if the entire Fukuda Denki stadium was colluding against us. Everybody seemed in slow motion from the ref to the staff. JEF players had been taking their time with the ball right after their go ahead goal. Jofoku was so irate that he was given a talking to by the ref. We saw red, and then Hirayama did, in the form of a card. It was a ridiculous display of refereeing in the final 30 minutes. The major call was the second yellow of the game against Hirayama for an alleged elbow. A JEF player had climbed over Hirayama`s back and he, Hirayama, shucked him off. Then the second yellow, followed by the red. No Hirayama for the final home game of the season against Kobe on Saturday. If anything this is a stern reminder of what is wrong with FCT right now. You are only as good as your last game and we should not be resting on our Nabisco Cup laurels. Full points in the final two games of the season can get us to at 55 points on the year and possibly, if fate is with us, top 5. Worthy of our season. Jofoku has a lot to think about this week. We need to rally behind him and the Red and Blue this weekend, because man, they are going to need it.