* Not actually a shop

Friday, July 8, 2011

Oita v FC Tokyo: Saturday 7pm

J2 Matchday 15 Preview*     *I have no idea why this is indented, and I can't fix it.

WANTED: For Crimes Against Decent Football,
committed on six occasions between
Sept. 18 and Nov. 27, 2010
After winning three games in a week FC Tokyo are back in action tomorrow night when we visit former J1 mates Oita. That means of course, that we'll come face to face with the man who for some reason made six appearances for us on loan last season, Shunsuke Maeda (above). Hopefully none of his shite-ness will rub off on our players while he's on the pitch.

Anyway, Oita are one of the few teams in J2 we have a decent history with, starting way back in our inaugural season, 1999, and including the Kyushu club's run in J1 from 2003-2009. This will be our 19th league meeting: we've won half of the 18 previous games, with five draws and four defeats, while we've played a few Nabisco Cup games over the years as well.

With Daiki Takamatsu still out, Masato Morishige will be the only one of our ex-Oita players able to line up against his former club. Apart from that, there aren't many other nuggets of information I can share about our XI, as the only interest is in whether Mr. Okuma will stick with Hitoshi Shiota in goal, or reinstate Shuichi Gonda.

Here at On the Gas we favour Gonda, so he's in my predicted team here, but the way Big Bear has kept faith with Shiota for the Okayama and Tottori games would seem to suggest it's a 50/50 call at the moment.

Regardless of who our keeper is, there's no doubt that the ten outfield players will be the same as against Tottori, as they've started the last five games (all wins, of course) together, and indeed did so again in Wednesday's 6-2 training match win over Tokyo Gakugei University (3 x 30 mins).

Oooh, nice segue! Speaking of the win over the students of Gak, there was great news from that game as Lucas made his return to action, playing the last 20 minutes of the second period and then all of the third.

Even better is that he assisted on a goal for Roberto Cesar not long after coming on, and then scored one of his own at the end of the second half hour. We need to reign in our expectations slightly after hearing that, as he won't be ready to make the squad for this game, but its not inconcievable that our new Number 49 could be available for selection for FC Gifu at Aji Sta a week on Sunday.

With Lucas not quite match fit, our bench will probably only show one change from last Saturday, as Tatsuya Suzuki is a chance to return from his mysterious leg injury, with Takumi Abe likely to make way if he does.

After joining J2 alongside us in 1999, Oita gained promotion after winning the league in 2002, and then enjoyed seven years in the top flight. Their best season in J1 was 2008, when they shocked the league, won the Nabisco Cup and finished fourth, ten spots better than 2007.

But just as quickly as things turned for the better for them, they went down the toilet at a stunning rate, and they were relegated at the end of 2009, finishing above only Chiba. That relegation, of course, led to Morishige's arrival with us.

Last season, their first back in J2, they bombed spectacularly, finishing 15th. An amazing turn of events then, from 4th in J1 to 15th in J2 in the space of three seasons. Coincidentally, they come into this game in 15th, having won four times, although in this topsy-turvy season they're only three points behind 10th-placed Kusatsu.

Last Saturday they were battered 3-0 away by Kitakyushu in one of the numerous Kyushu Derbies that will take place this season, and their XI for that game was: (4-4-2 if you believe the J.League website, 3-4-3 according to El Golazo, which I'm using) Shimizu; Tokita, Sakata, Kang Song Ho; Tameda, Inoue, Miyazawa, Tone; Mitsuhira, Morishima, Nishi. No Fat Maeda in there you'll notice, as he started on the bench, just the second game all season he hasn't been in the XI.

One very familiar name in that XI is Masashi Miyazawa (right), who spent six seasons with us from 2001 to 2006, making 112 J1 appearances in red and blue, scoring 11 times. He's become a key player for them, and has started every game but one this season, and he's sure to be up for the midfield battle against Takahashi and Casual.

The fresh-faced youngster on the left is Shuto Kono, one of our next generation who is spending the season on loan down in Kyushu. He's started twice in six total appearances this season, but was an unused sub against Kitakyushu, and whether he'll be in the squad or not tomorrow remains to be seen, as I have no idea if the terms of his loan forbid him from playing against us or not. If anyone can enlighten me, please do so in the comments. 
As our winning streak has grown, the danger of complacency creeping in has become larger. Third v fifteenth looks a massive mismatch on paper, but we're arguably ripe for picking off here, as the hosts were thrashed last weekend, and will hope to do better in front of their home supporters at the Oita Bank Dome.

Despite that, I trust that Mr. Okuma will have the players up for this, as Tokushima and Kumamoto are hot on our heels and we have still yet to really play our best football. He keeps banging on about things we need to improve, and with The Salad hungry to add to his goal tally, we should be able to add to our impressive recent away record.
Six on the spin? Sure....Away Win.


  1. Just noticed that Maeda's head is completely round. Definitely the roundest head ever to don the blue and red.


  2. Also looking forward to seeing this one in the house! THank you e2 free trial