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[Match Report] J1R3 FC Tokyo 0:0 Cerezo Osaka

I've been a bit busy with shooting shows (to the extent that I didn't actually make it to Saturday's match >_<) and have to catch up on posting the templated match reports, but for now here's a guest report from regular commenter Y.N.W.A.:


I'd like to begin my first match report on the site by saying dokool certainly knows which games to miss! A lovely, though blustery, evening was not matched by the action on the pitch, as Tokyo carried on their customary sluggish start to the season with a disjointed performance.

The cruel defeat away to the Red Cubic Zirconias the previous weekend (may I just say, at the hands of an incompetent referee and a blind linesman) saw Jofuku react by making four changes to the starting XI, bringing in Hiramatsu for the suspended Morishige in the centre of defence, Kim at left back for his debut in place of the harshly dropped Mukuhara (this saw Nagatomo switch to right back), Ishikawa for Hokuto on the right wing and Akamine for Tatsuya up front supporting Hirayama. Unfortunately Kajiyama had picked up a knock and didn't even make the bench, and his continued absence from the first XI meant the Tokunaga – Hanyu partnership continued in central midfield. More on that later

Moniwa got a good reception on his return to Aji Sta, both ends of the stadium doing the “Mo-ni-WA” chant before the game, but Sota and Aka were hoping to expose him as part of Osaka's back three.

The signs were mixed in a fairly even first half, Tokyo had the better early chances with Hirayama forcing a good save after a mazy run after about 6 minutes, but Cerezo were keeping the ball well, with their Brazilian midfielder, Martinez, spraying the passes around and showing off a neat collection of flicks.

Tokyo were unable to retain possession for any length of time up against Cerezo's five-man midfield and were forced to play on the counter, but when they were able to nick the ball chances did come, notably when Ishikawa embarked on a 50 metre run but saw his shot parried away, with Akamine taking one touch too many when the rebound from Nao's effort found its way to him, Cerezo's South Korean keeper, Kim, saving well again.

There were some nervy moments for the Gasmen though as Cerezo's numerical advantage in midfield began to tell and they finished the half strongly, Nagatomo cleared off the line after Gonda flapped, and in stoppage time a dangerous ball was whipped across the six yard box but thankfully for Tokyo, with Gonda stranded, no Osaka player arrived in time to get a touch on it.

The second half began in mostly the same vein, with the Gasmen unable to gain control of midfield, despite the best efforts, it should be said, of Hanyu, who linked play fairly well in his best showing of the new season. Tokunaga, despite a few nice moments, was let down time and again by poor passing and Matsushita offered little down the left, and he was replaced by Otake 13 minutes into the half. Cerezo looked more dangerous in the second half, and in Kagawa they had the most creative player on the pitch. There were sighs of relief from the home end on more than a few occasions as Osaka's poor finishing let Tokyo off the hook.

Ishikawa had put in a decent shift, looking threatening but struggling to really impose himself on the game, and Jofuku took the opportunity to hand Ricardinho his debut with 21 minutes remaining. He got right into the thick of it, too, the little Brazilian, playing on the left wing, tracking back to win the ball and going on some nice runs, but his delivery looked a little rusty, as was to be expected. Akamine had done little in the second half and with Tatsuya ready to come on with 10 minutes left I'd assumed it would be him going off, but with Hanyu seemingly contractually obliged to be subbed every game it was indeed number 22 heading for an early bath, which meant Otake had to go into central midfield next to Tokunaga.

There were half chances at either end in the final stages, but truth be told, Tokyo didn't deserve anything out of the game, and considering the amount of possession Cerezo had, a point was a decent return for an underwhelming performance. Obviously no Tokyo player covered themselves in glory, but Nagatomo had a good game back in his natural position, Hiramatsu was steady enough next to the almost-always excellent Konno, Hanyu showed some good signs and Ricardinho's cameo was mostly positive.

On the minus side, while I can't really criticize Kim for his defensive work, he didn't get forward as much as Mukuhara likes to, and when he did his delivery was ordinary, Matsushita continues to struggle to settle, and Tokunaga just doesn't appear suited to central midfield at all. I realise the injuries to Yonemoto and Casual have forced Jofuku to think on the fly, but square pegs don't go in round holes and our new captain seems to lack the awareness and passing ability needed to play in the centre.

With Morishige returning against Omiya hopefully the manager will pair him with Hiramatsu in central defence and push Konno into midfield next to Hanyu. This would allow Tokunaga to return to full back with Kim dropping back to the bench.

But wrapping up the game, this was clearly a missed opportunity for the Gasmen, a home game against a promoted team should be three points in the bank for a team looking to finish top four as a minimum, but to be fair to our visitors from Kansai, they were good value for their point, and with better finishing they could easily have returned to Osaka with all three.

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[Match Report] Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2 – FC Tokyo 1:0 Shimizu S-Pulse

J.League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Semifinal Part 2
First Half
1- 0
Second Half
0 – 0

Final
1 – 0

September 6th 2009, 6PM Kickoff at Ajinomoto Stadium (Chofu, Tokyo) Attendance 22,181
GK 20 Shuichi Gonda
DF 25 Yuhei Tokunaga
DF 4 Bruno Quadros
DF 2 Teriyuki Moniwa
DF 33 Kenta Mukuhara
MF 10 Yohei Kajiyama
MF 28 Takuji Yonemoto
MF 18 Naohiro Ishikawa
MF 22 Naotake Hanyu
FW 9 Cabore
FW 13 Sota Hirayama
Starting Members
to be added
72' 40 Tatsuya Suzuki (for Hanyu)
80' 3 Hideki Sahara (for Hirayama)
82' 15 Daishi Hiramatsu (for Ishikawa)
Substitutes
17' Sota Hirayama Goals
Cautions
Ejections

Report

On a triumphant night at Ajinomoto Stadium, I… was in Shibuya, shooting PUNKAFOOLIC SHIBUYA CRASH.  I was fortunate enough, however, to catch the result right before I went to shoot dustbox, and as they say in the local parlance テンション上がった!  While being a Tokyo supporter comes with its ups and downs, such is the life of all soccer supporters, as similarly expressed by the chorus of dustbox's Hurdle Race:

Just like a hurdle race!
Gotta get over again and again.
Just like a hurdle race!
What's waiting for me!?

…okay, yeah, that's a bit of a stretch, but give me some credit for trying to tie it all together.

With this victory, FC Tokyo advances to its first Nabisco Cup final in 5 years, when it defeated Urawa in a much-storied penalty shootout to claim its only silverware in club history.  Tokyo's opponent will be Kawasaki Frontale, a team that has so far stymied Tokyo twice this season but faces one of the roughest schedules out of all J.League teams in the next month:
Sept. 12 — Antlers
19 — Urawa Reds
23 — Grampus (ACL)
26 — Gamba
30 — Grampus (ACL)

Yeah, wow, that's brutal.

In October, Kawasaki has to play against Yokohama FM, Omiya Ardija, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, plus the Round 2 Emperor's Cup Match (I assume that their hypothetical Round 3 match, like Tokyo's, will be moved to November 11th due to their Cup Final appearance).  Additionally, should Kawasaki beat Nagoya in the ACL quarterfinal series, they would advance to the semifinals and play matches on the 21st and 28th of October.  While both of Kawasaki's prospective opponents are located in the Middle East, it appears that the 28th would be played at Kawasaki so there's less hope that the team will be horribly jet-lagged before the 3rd.

Anyway, while I can't personally report on the match, I've made friends this summer with Andre, a Canadian supporter of FC Tokyo who's spending nearly half a year travelling around Japan and seeing lots of FCT matches.  He was there on Sunday and so I've asked him to share his thoughts with our readership:

For those of us overseas cats who can only follow our favorite Asian squads via the internet, to actually be able to watch that favorite Asian squad reach a cup final, live, during your travels is a unique experience. I had the opportunity to sing, chant and scream as the Red and Blue won a convincing 1-0 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse last night at Ajinomoto. Having the advantage from the 2-2 draw on Wednesday night in Shimizu, Tokyo could have defended, sat back and hoped for the best. A draw, the better nil nil draw, would have seen the team back into the finals it won in 2004. And if you, like myself, watched how poorly the team played at the start of this campaign; not to mention the last several weeks before Oita, you can understand the collective sigh of relief many of us had after the final 4 minutes of stoppage time was whistled down. What needed to happen, and happen quickly was the return of Hirayama to form, as he has been having some extremely frustrating games as of late. The slump is officially over. A cross was met by Hirayama and found its way into the back of the net comfortably.  Hirayama was all smiles and cheers.  In replay it kinda looked like an S Pulse defender deflected it in the 50/50 between himself and Hirayama in the box, but who cares about such details. Tokyo was up 1-0, albeit fairly early in the game.

The rest of the match reflected how this series began at Shimizu and is ultimatly, I believe won us the the semi-final: defense. The defending was strong, more so than in last weeks' first leg. Bruno, my dear Bruno, was a menace on the back line preventing many a Shimizu attack. The most dangerous  player on Shimizu, and someone who Tokyo had a hard time dealing with on Wednesday was the big Norwegian Johnsen.  Frode was finally kept quiet by the Tokyo defenders last night. The chances went Tokyos' way for most of the match, with Cabore and Ishikawa having some difficulty in linking up, as opportunities were flying everywhere in the middle and late parts of the second half. Cabore was giving it his all and if what is rumoured turns out to be true, and this was Cabore`s final game for Tokyo, he went out flying. Ishikawa is still looking like he's trying way too hard to get back to where he left off before his injury, making silly errors, but he still looked fast and strong the only way Ishikawa can. What I liked, and it seemed that Jofoku gave the team the same advice at halftime, was to not let Shimizu dictate or pressure the game. There was a lot to lose during the match and Tokyo never allowed Shimizu to  bully or rally. Shimizu can be a difficult team to play,  playing particularly well before these semi-final legs in regular league play.

November 3rd is closer than you think, and with Kawasaki defeating Yokohama, this final is going to be something to write home about. I can hardly wait.

Andre

Thanks for the report, Andre!

If you haven't seen the sticky on the top of our website, you can go here for our special Nabisco Cup Ticket Info page.  For the next two months, look to Aishiteru Tokyo for the net's most comprehensive English coverage of FC Tokyo and their journey to Kokuritsu for the final battle against Tamagawa Clasico rivals Kawasaki Frontale.

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[Guest Post] Nabisco Cup Qualification Scenarios

So in deference to the weather, the $150 train ticket, and the fact that the weather wreaked hell on my ankle, I chose to not attend yesterday’s Nabisco Cup game up at Alwin Stadium in Nagano.  For what it’s worth, FC Tokyo blew a lead late in the game to settle for a 1-1 tie with Shimizu S-Pulse.  Shimizu has now secured a playoff berth, which should make my colleagues over at S-Pulse UK Ultras pretty happy.

Anyway, got this post from my stateside buddy, Vermont local soccer expert, and stat wonk Lantis, which pretty much sums up everything you want to know about who’s in, who’s out, and who’s on the bubble in the Nabisco Cup.


Any team with at least five points currently has at least a chance at moving on to the quarterfinals, with an absolute minimum threshold of eight points at the end of the group stage to advance.  There are probably a few outside chance scenarios I’ve missed in this, but they’re horribly unlikely to occur.


Group A:

Nagoya Grampus have clinched a quarterfinal berth and can clinch a group win with a win or draw, or a Vissel Kobe loss or draw.  If Grampus loses and Kobe wins, if the combined goal differential is less than five, Grampus still wins the group.

Vissel Kobe are in the lead for a wildcard slot and can clinch it with a win.  They also have a chance at winning the group with a win and a Grampus loss by a combined six or more goals.

Kyoto Sanga can win a wildcard slot with a win, an FC Tokyo loss and an Oita Trinita loss, both with a combined goal differential of five or more goals, a Jubilo Iwata loss, a Kawasaki Frontale loss, and a Kashiwa Reysol loss to Consadole Sapporo win by fewer than six.  A loss or draw eliminates Kyoto from quarterfinal contention.

The Urawa Reds have been eliminated from quarterfinal contention.
Group B:

Shimizu S-Pulse have clinched a quarterfinal berth and can clinch a group win with a win or draw, or an FC Tokyo loss or draw.  If Shimizu loses and FC Tokyo wins, if the combined goal differential is less than six, Shimizu still wins the group.

FC Tokyo are currently in a tie for the second wildcard slot.  A win and a Shimizu loss by a combined six or more goals clinches a group win.  A win and a Visel Kobe loss or a win and an Oita Trinita loss or draw clinches a wildcard slot.  A draw, an Oita Trinita loss (or draw with a lower score than FC Tokyo’s game), a Kawasaki Frontale loss or draw, and a Kashiwa Reysol loss or draw also clinches a wildcard slot.  A loss really muddies things, requiring losing by no more than one goal, a Jubilo Iwata loss or draw, an Oita loss by more goals than FC Tokyo’s, a Frontale loss or draw, and a Kashiwa loss or draw to advance.

Jubilo Iwata can win a wildcard slot with a win, an FC Tokyo loss, and an Oita Trinita loss.  A draw, an FC Tokyo loss by more than two goals, an Oita Trinita loss by more than two goals, a Kawasaki Frontale loss or draw, and a Kashiwa Reysol loss or draw can also win a wildcard slot.  A loss eliminates Jubilo from quarterfinal contention.

Tokyo Verdy have been eliminated from quarterfinal contention.

Group C:

This one’s a mess; everybody still has at least a chance.

JEF United Ichihara Chiba can clinch a group win with a win, a draw, or a loss to Kawasaki Frontale by less than two and a Kashiwa Reysol loss, draw, or win by less than three.  If Chiba still loses the group title, they can win a wildcard slot with an FC Tokyo loss, an Oita Trinita loss, and a Jubilo Iwata loss or draw.

Kawasaki Frontale can win the group with a win over JEF United Ichihara Chiba by two or more goals, and a Kashiwa Reysol loss, draw, or win by less than three.  Kawasaki can win a wildcard with a win, losses by FC Tokyo and Oita Trinita (or draws and a win by four or more), a loss by Jubilo Iwata (or a Jubilo draw and a win by two or more), and a Kashiwa Reysol loss, draw, or win by a smaller or equal margin to Kawasaki’s win. A loss or draw eliminates Kawasaki from quarterfinal contention.

Kashiwa Reysol can win the group with a win by three or more, and a Kawasaki Frontale win by at least two less than Kashiwa’s win.  Kashiwa can win a wildcard with a win, losses by FC Tokyo and Oita Trinita (or draws and a win by five or more), a loss by Jubilo Iwata (or a Jubilo draw and a win by three or more), and a Kawasaki loss, draw, or win by a smaller margin than Kashiwa’s win.  A loss or draw eliminates Kashiwa from quarterfinal contention.

Consadole Sapporo can win a wildcard with a win by six or more, losses by FC Tokyo, Oita Trinita, and Jubilo Iwata, a Kawasaki Frontale loss or draw, and a Kyoto Sanga FC loss, draw, or win by fewer than five.  A loss or draw eliminates Sapporo from quarterfinal contention.
Group D:

Yokohama F-Marinos can clinch a group win with a win, an Oita Trinita loss, a draw and an Oita Trinita draw or loss, or a loss by less than two and an Oita Trinita draw or loss.  Yokohama can clinch a wildcard slot with a draw, losses or draws by FC Tokyo and Oita Trinita, and a Jubilo Iwata loss, draw, or win by fewer than four.  Yokohama can also win a wildcard slot with a loss, losses by FC Tokyo and Oita Trinita, a loss or draw by Jubilo Iwata, a loss, draw, or win by a combined GD of less than five by Kawasaki Frontale, and a loss, draw, or win by a combined GD of less than six by Kashiwa Reysol.

Oita Trinita can win the group with a win and a Yokohama F-Marinos loss or draw, or a draw and a Yokohama loss by two or more.  Oita can win a wildcard slot with a win and an FC Tokyo loss or draw, or a draw, an FC Tokyo loss (or draw with a lower score than Oita’s game), a Kawasaki Frontale loss or draw, and a Kashiwa Reysol loss or draw also clinches a wildcard slot.  Oita can still win a wildcard slot by losing by no more than one goal, a Jubilo Iwata loss or draw, an FC Tokyo loss by more goals than Oita’s, a Frontale loss or draw, and a Kashiwa loss or draw.

Albirex Niigata and Omiya Ardija have been eliminated from quarterfinal contention.

Personal predictions:
Group A Winner: Nagoya Grampus
Group B Winner: Shimizu S-Pulse
Group C Winner: JEF United Ichihara Chiba
Group D Winner: Oita Trinita
Wildcard winners: Vissel Kobe & FC Tokyo