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Monday, April 4, 2011

FC Tokyo Update - Busy Two Weeks

Plenty happening on and off the pitch at FC Tokyo in the past two weeks, and, seeing as though we already know that the J.League will resume on April 23rd (although there is a bit of news related to that, towards the end of this post), let's get stuck into it - in chronological order - as best as I can remember:

FC Tokyo 8-2 Yokogawa Musashino FC 
(Training Match)
A fantastic turnout of 9,236 (but unfortunately not including me - was looking at a potential wedding venue) at Aji Sta the Sunday before last saw the Gasmen pummel the JFL'ers 8-2, with Sota Hirayama netting four, and the other goals scored by Casual, Tatsuya, Hokuto and Otake (a brilliant free-kick with the last kick of the game).
Even more fantastic was the amount of money raised for earthquake and tsunami victims - more than 10.8 million yen in total made up of over 8.3 million yen in donations and almost 2.5 million from a charity auction held on the concourse before the game.

Japan 2-1 J.League TEAM AS ONE
Nagai Stadium in Osaka was the venue for the national team versus league selection charity match, which not only raised money for the disaster relief efforts, but demonstrated how football has been at the forefront of the Japanese sporting community in reacting to the tragedy in a prompt and sensitive manner - the whole event was a touching display of unity from the Japanese football family.
Yasuyuki Konno was one of the main focuses of the media in the build-up to the game, as he hails from disaster-ravaged Sendai, and our captain put in a solid 60-odd minute stint on the pitch, while Gasmen OB Yuto Nagatomo played the first half, and was his usual livewire self, bombing up and down the left touchline.
The game itself was a fantastic occasion (though not the best pure footballing spectacle) and goals from Yasuhito Endo and Shinji Okazaki gave the national team a 2-1 win, with the J.League's goal scored by some old guy....no I'm joking, it was brilliant to see "King" Kazu Miura score, and what a classy finish it was, too.

The Return of the Foreign Brigade
During the week the club announced that both Pedro Junior and Roberto would be returning to the country from Brazil on Thursday afternoon, while The Salad doesn't have a confirmed return date yet as I type this.
It wasn't announced by the club (which wasn't surprising because there hadn't been any notification of him even training with us), but Australian international Jade North, who had been on trial for three weeks and was having his medical WHEN THE EARTHQUAKE STRUCK, also flew back in on Thursday. Which leads me to...

FC Tokyo 1-2 Chuo University
(Training Match)
The game itself last Friday saw us slip to a 2-1 loss, we had led at halftime thanks to Hirayama's goal three minutes before the break, but with four of the Under 18s plus new first team squad member Kento Hashimoto (who's just 17) on the pitch in the second half, the Chuo team were much improved in the second half, and squeaked home their winner in the last minute.
Jade North, the first Australian to sign for FC Tokyo,
with some Liverpool fan...
I missed the first 15 minutes of the game (it was only my second-ever trip to Kodaira and I got lost!), and after going in the soccer school entrance (which I later realised was the wrong one and I shouldn't have been there, oops!), I noticed the above-mentioned Jade North walking down the central footpath between the pitch and the futsal pitches. I introduced myself and, while I was expecting just a quick chat (and asked his agent, a very nice fellow by the name of Yusuke, to take the photo above...), we ended up talking for over an hour about various things: our earthquake experiences (Jade was actually on the treadmill when it struck); our families (his wife and two children are both staying back in Australia until all fears of radiation and food and water contamination end); my time in Japan and his time in the A-League with Wellington and at the Asian Cup with the Australian National Team. Also, Jade might be able to pass some inside information on to the manager about Chiba's giant Norwegian striker Tor Hogne Aarøy, as he played against the 204cm behemoth during his stint with Tromsø.
But what struck me the most, and was the most pleasing thing to me about our conversation, was Jade's enthusiasm about joining us. He was full of praise for the professional set-up and atmosphere around the club (he told me some horror stories from his time in South Korea!), he's been made to feel very welcomed by the playing group as well as the coaches, and joked with Yusuke about how he'd been trying to get Jade to sign with us for the past two years.
With about ten minutes of the game remaining Jade had to head back to the clubhouse to finalize some of the details before his signing was announced the next day, but before he left I made sure to ask if he'd be willing to appear on a future episode of Gas Talk, and thankfully he is, so that will happen in the not-too-distant future when our respective schedules allow. Stay tuned.

Shizuoka Camp, Schedule Changes
- I'm getting out of chronological order here (and probably should've done this post in two parts!), but last Thursday the club announced the first team squad will head for Shizuoka tomorrow, and will train for three days at the Tokinosumika Sports Centre. I've had it confirmed by Jade himself that he will be making that trip, so they will be his first training sessions as an FC Tokyo player.
- On Friday the J.League announced the revised fixture list for matches that had been scheduled in areas where power is being rationed. For FC Tokyo, that means our first game after the restart, away to Chiba on April 24th, will now kickoff at 2pm, while the first derby of the season on May 4th has also been moved forward, to 3pm.

Matsumoto Yamaga FC 0-4 FC Tokyo
(Training Match)
An excellent crowd of 10,098 raised a total of 6.57 million yen for disaster relief at the training/charity game at Alwin Stadium in Matsumoto, Nagano, yesterday. As with the Yokogawa game, the scoreline indicates an easy Gasmen victory, however on this occasion, having watched the game live thanks to Ustream, I can tell you that was far from the case.
We led at halftime thanks to Kazumasa Uesato's first goal in red and blue, a cracking strike from the edge of the box that beat the keeper at his near post, but it wasn't until the 75th minute, when Tatsuya Yazawa was picked out by possibly the worst backpass in football history to slot home the second past their helpless keeper, that the game looked safe.
Tatsuya Suzuki then added the gloss with two goals in a minute towards the end, his first was an absolute peach as, after they had hit the bar, Otake sent him clear, and he dribbled from halfway, through two defenders' challenges, into the box and then fired across the keeper into the far top corner.
Matsumoto looked a decent team, they finished 7th in their first year in the JFL last season, and, having gained J.League Associate Member status in 2010, they are one of five teams with that designation that may be promoted to J2 in the next couple of years. Good luck to them.

It most definitely has been been a busy couple of weeks for FC Tokyo news. I'll be back with at least one more of these updates before the J.League resumes.

You'll Never Walk Alone


  1. Bout time I made an update like this, now that I'm back in Glorious Nippon.

    I would imagine that the team isn't officially allowed to (or chooses not to) talk about players they haven't signed...? maybe a union thing, or something contractual (even though Jade was unsigned as far as I knew)? The thought had occurred to me when I saw him listed as 練習生 on the team's site, but some Japanese media did discuss him before the signing.

  2. Yeah he was out of contract and its common for clubs in England and elsewhere in Europe to announce a player on trial, so there was nothing stopping the club from saying something, but perhaps its club policy or just not the way things are done here.

  3. I enjoyed this article so much.very summarized as always. I hope jade (good name like Jedi) will join this podcast soon. thank you so much for joining fct even this incredible unstable situations. aikidon