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Friday, June 3, 2011

FC Tokyo v Ehime FC: Preview

J2 Matchday 9

Fresh off a dominating performance in the 4-1 away win over Kyoto, The Gasmen are back in action on Sunday when we make our annual sojourn to Komazawa Olympic Park to host Ehime FC.

While the game itself is moderately important, the main event will undoubtedly be:
The Ultimate Mascot Battle: Dorompa v The Fightin' Mikans!
He's well and truly outnumbered here, but its nice to see that Dorompa is not intimidated, and has fired off the first blow by flipping them the V's. He'd better watch out for himself though, as this chick mascot, while looking quite cute (the little bit of dribble coming out of her mouth is a lovely touch), could well turn out to be a conniving seductress, hoping to turn his head so the boys can get some cheap shots in. 

Slightly more odd is this shady character, supposedly their most "ardent" supporter, who, while really needing to work on his posture, could be a threat to emerge from the shadows (possibly with a weapon) to ambush our man... Where's "Mr. Pitch" when you need him?!

So Dorompa faces quite a difficult afternoon, but with the support of the crowd he may just be able to juice the mikans and emerge on top (and if he's lucky, maybe also pick up a new girlfriend in the process).

Anyway, to the game then, our first ever meeting in league play (obviously, as they joined J2 in 2006 and have never come close to promotion), and a battle between teams sitting in 9th and 7th.

Mr. Okuma usually likes to stick with a winning team, but he won't have that option here with our captain and centre half Yasuyuki Konno away on national team duty for friendlies against Peru (played on Wednesday, when he was clearly Man of the Match) and the Czech Republic (next Tuesday, anyone else going?).

football formations His replacement looks certain to be Jade North, and it will be great to see him out there from the start. He's put his head down and grafted away since his arrival, and quickly worked his way ahead of Tomokazu Nagira to be first in line for when an opportunity like this came about.

Apart from that enforced change there really aren't a whole lot of talking points when it comes to our XI, however I'd make one other change from our trip to Kansai, recalling Takumi Abe at the expense of Hokuto Nakamura.

The goals we've conceded in the last two games have come in large part from Hokuto being sucked out of position, he was absolutely nowhere when the cross was delivered for Shonan's goal two weekends ago, and then got caught ball-watching and was unable to react to the rebound after Gonda's save last Saturday. That's just my opinion, Okuma will probably stick with Hokuto, and while in a perfect world I'd like to see Kazumasa Uesato starting, the boss will most likely keep Hideto Takahashi in the holding role.

Tanabe and Otake are nailed-on to keep their spots after fantastic performances against Kyoto, and Otake has happy memories of this ground of course, having scored the winner in the Nabisco Cup game against Niigata there last season. Takahashi does as well for that matter, he made his first ever start for us in the same game. Naohiro Ishikawa is edging closer to a return, and might make the bench here, so I'm guessing our substitutes will be: Shiota, Nagira, Mukuhara, Uesato, Hokuto, Ishikawa & Yazawa.

In their five completed years in J2, last season (11th) was the best finish they've managed. Their record in 2010 had a perfect symmetry to it that perhaps only I'm interested in, but if you've read down this far I'm sure you'll bear with me: P:36 W:12 D: 12 L: 12; Goals For: 34 Goals Against: 34. I love shit like that. Just for the record, they were 9th after Matchday 8 last year, although due to the odd number of teams they'd already had their first bye and had only played seven games.

This season, after starting off hot and winning their first two, they then went winless in four, before rediscovering their form. They're 7th and have won their last two: an impressive 2-1 away win at Tochigi SC, and then a 2-0 home win over FC Gifu last Friday night. Those of you paying attention there will notice they've twice already this season managed something that we haven't done since October 2009: win consecutive league games.

On paper they appear to be a solid 4-4-2 team, home or away, but we may see one of the named strikers play out wide and give them more of a 4-5-1 look. The one big mystery with them will be how many players they'll have on their bench though! An oddity, but two weeks ago at Tochigi they had only five subs, and even last week, at home, they only had six on the bench! Their XI that defeated Gifu was: Kawakita; Sekine, Ikeda, Takasugi, Maeno; Watanabe, Oyama, Ishii, Sugiura; Ogasawara & Saito. Sugiura (on loan from Kawasucki) and Ishii scored the goals, while pocket rocket Saito (on loan from J1 Yokohama) is their top scorer with three goals. Their Brazilian striker Josimar has come off the bench in three of the last four, but I have a sneaking suspicion we might see him from the start on Sunday.

I've said this previously after the wins over Tosu and Toyama, but we really have a chance to get our season going with a win here. A victory and other results going our way could see us move up as high as fifth in the table, and most importantly if we take the three points, you won't have to put up with me banging on about us not winning consecutive games for so long!

The quality Tanabe and Otake showed last weekend was hugely encouraging, and means opposition teams will have to pay more attention to them, which should benefit Hanyu and The Salad in the more central attacking positions. I don't know if we can expect four goals again, but our attacking play has improved markedly over the past two games, and the side should be brimming with confidence, while also aware of the threat Ehime can pose.
No better way to mark Jade North's first start than with a...Home Win.


  1. "No better way to mark Jade North's first start than with a...Home Win."

    Really? LMAO.

    Another poor and shitty performance by rotting FCT...

  2. @Anonymous: There you go, thats what I get for trying to be positive!
    Are you an FC Tokyo fan yourself? If so, what do you think the team needs to do to get back on track? Change the manager? Get rid of some under-performing players? Or both?