Tag Archives: Ajinomoto Stadium

Match Preview: J1R17 FC Tokyo v. Nagoya Grampus

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July 12th 2009, 6PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo)

Competition Record: FCT 4 wins, 3 draws, Nagoya Grampus 6 wins

Haven't written one of these in a while, have I…

Background

Both FC Tokyo and Nagoya Grampus started the season with high expectations yet failed to meet them; the difference between the two teams is that Tokyo seems to have regained its footing while Nagoya continues to flounder in the middle of the table, closer to the danger zone than any team should be comfortable with.  While Tokyo has recovered from its slow start to the season (-game winning streak including two Cup matches), Nagoya is wearing itself ragged by participating simultaniously in J1, the ACL, and the Nabisco Cup.  If the orcas want to stay in contention for J1 they may have to make some very tough choices soon about which titles they're going to put effort into chasing.

Speaking of the Nabisco Cup, FC Tokyo is in the Round of 8 as well; their opponent?  Nagoya.  The teams will play again at Ajinomoto Stadium on Wednesday evening.  I'm not even sure if Grampus is planning on going home in the 2-day interim.  In any case although whoever wins Sunday's match may have a psychological advantage, but both teams will be able to read each other's strategy and adjust accordingly for the rematch.

The Matchup

Though billed as an epic confrontation between two of the league's highest scorers (Davi at the top of the table with 10 goals, and Ishikawa right behind him with 9), that storyline took a (not quite so) surprising turn when it was announced that Davi had been sold by Grampus to a club team in Qatar.  While he will still play the next three matches, a pending medical check will surely keep the Brazillian from making any bold challenges.  Never mind the fact that his heart may not be into helping Nagoya win as much as it will be into considering how to spend all of the petrodollars he's to recieve.  Tokyo has dodged an additional bullet in that Nagoya's new Aussie striker Joshua Kennedy won't be in the lineup until the 18th.

Ishikawa, on the other hand, is scoring goals so phenomenal that even traditionally staid Japanese announcers are showing signs of excitement.  Tokyo's offensive strategy seems to be “use long passes to break through the opponent's second line, push the back line into the box, get the ball to Nao at the top of the box, and watch him send a picture-perfect volley somewhere in the vicinity of “between the crossbar and the goalkeeper's outstretched hands”.  And it's working.  oh lawdy is it working.

On defense, Konno and Bruno have teamed up to bring stability at the CB position and were successful in shutting down Vissel's attacks last week.  Yonemoto is also contributing thoroughly on defense; the young star seems to be in 3 places at once on many occasions.

Tokyo's starting lineup has remained essentially unchanged since league play resumed; given how much the lineup was being tweaked on a weekly basis in the first few weeks of the season this is perhaps the best sign that things have finally calmed down in the capital city.

Predictions

Nagoya may have broken a 4-game losing streak against Osaka last week, but they didn't win the game so much as a bad goalkeeping blunder lost it for Gamba.  Tokyo is arguably the hottest team in the league right now and they will more than likely continue their winning streak.  If Tokyo can sweep their games this week (a reasonable possibility), it will be a bold statement that the Gasmen are in the running for a title in 2009.

Errata

This will be the first match at Ajinomoto Stadium in a month and a half; improvements and repairs have been made to the pitch and the irrigation system.

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Responsible party sought in damage at Ajinomoto Stadium

According to a post on the official FC Tokyo website, a chair in section 57, row 15 (located behind the home goal) was found to be broken following the game.  The damage came as a result of strong force on the back of the chair, which caused the clasp that connects the seat to the pole underneath to break.  The location of the chair can be seen via these photos posted with the announcement:

Section 57 is the domain of the LA12 supporter group, as seen in this photo from last year:

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Based on that, the person responsible was probably in row 16, standing with his foot on his chair (in row 16) and his other foot on the back of the chair in front of him (the chair in question in row 15).  I would imagine that the damage wasn’t from vandalism, but rather from heavy jumping throughout the match as supporters are wont to do.

The announcement goes on to say that should the person responsible not step forward before the gates open for the next home match (3/21 vs. Montedio Yamagata), an area of that section including the broken chair will be blocked off from entry.

For what it’s worth, I was in row 15; my seat was 3 or 4 to the right of the broken chair if you’re looking from the perspective of these photos.  I’m about 80% sure I know who was sitting in that seat… obviously I shouldn’t speculate in case I’m wrong, but if I’m right that person wouldn’t have been responsible for that sort of damage.

In any case, this sort of thing is disappointing especially in light of the fact that fans were allowed for the first time in over a year to stand in the walkway area in front of the seats.  I’m not quite sure how large a section the team would block off in the event someone doesn’t come forward in the next two weeks, but I hope that someone does take responsibility for their actions and allows the team’s supporters to continue to show their strength behind the goal area.

Changes at Ajinomoto Stadium for 2009

There's been a few notable announcements about FCT's home ground of Ajinomoto Stadium on the official website, so let's sum them up:

Starting from this year, concourses at Ajinomoto Stadium will be smoke-free.  Special areas will be set up for smokers before the match, and smokers will have access to the same areas as last year during half time.  Unlike last year, “Smoker Cards” will not be handed out, so smokers must present their tickets for re-entry.  Info and area maps here for those who care.

Food service is being significantly expanded at the stadium.  No longer are fans limited to the tyranny of Foody's (standard Japanese stadium fare) or KFC, with 3 new restaurants being added around the stadium.  In addition, catering trucks will be set up in the concourse area at various locations, which will hopefully reduce lines.   Personally I don't care if they serve fried rat testicles on a stick if they would just let me bring bottles of water into the stadium without having to smuggle them in.  Anyway, maps and more info here.

And for news that isn't totally boring, the prohibition on accessing the bottom level of the stands (the walkway in front of the short fence) has been lifted, allowing fans to get a little closer to the action.  In 2008 the space was blocked off with rope following fears that fans would want to jump onto the field; somehow it took team officials a year to figure out that if you tell Japanese people not to do something, they generally won't do it.  While fans will be allowed to congregate on the bottom walkway, standing, sitting, or straddling the fence is still prohibited.

Finally, an explanation has emerged for why I have to figure out where Komazawa Stadium is.  Ajinomoto Stadium will be repairing its pitch in June; re-sodding, re-turfing, repairing and upgrading the irrigation systems, that sort of thing.  As a result, FC Tokyo won't be using the stadium from late May (their last match in Ajisuta will be on 5/24 against Kawasaki Frontale) through mid-July (the first post-rennovation match will be vs. Nagoya Grampus on 7/12).

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