Good morning minna-san!
I’m typing this out quickly from the Imperial Hotel in uptown Osaka, where I sadly was unable to watch the game but I’ve read the reports. It was apparently pouring buckets at Ajinomoto stadium, which did not dampen the home crowd’s enthusiasm as the unreserved seats on the lower level apparently sold out.
According to Matsu over at The Rising Sun, the game was pretty much a tragedy. Konno was ejected from the game after 7 minutes for what sounds like a shit call by the ref resulting in a PK, but Shiota saved the day and batted the ball away. Sahara scored in the first half to give Tokyo the edge, but Renaldo equalized for Chiba in the second half while Sahara was on the sideline w/ an injury, essentially giving Chiba a 11-9 man advantage at the time.
In any case, despite the fact that it was a TOMAS-sponsored match and so I missed out on my free towel, probably best that I didn’t go given the weather. I’ve been told by a Japanese colleague that we shouldn’t mind the draw given the circumstances (certainly one point is better than none), and in other interesting news the top of the J1 fixture has gotten tighter than… well, it’s tight, I’ll leave it at that. 4 points separates the top 7 teams, with Urawa and Nagoya clinging to the top after losses this weekend, Kashima and Osaka surging forward to a point behind them after catching up on matches this week, FC Tokyo holding strong at 5th, Kashiwa right behind them in 6th, and Omiya a point behind them in 7th.
One thing’s for sure, going to be a wild ride. The next match is on Wednesday – the home leg of the Nabisco Cup Quarterfinal against Oita. Following that is Saturday’s epic confrontation at Saitama Stadium against the dreaded Reds. Stay tuned!