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Friday, September 9, 2011

FC Tokyo v Kyoto: Saturday 6.30pm

J2 Matchday 24 Preview

After what will forever be known as "The Kumagaya Debacle" (the game wasn't that bad, but everything else around it was), FC Tokyo finally return to the home comforts of Ajinomoto Stadium tomorrow to host Kyoto. This promises to be a fascinating J2 weekend, with the other teams in the top seven facing fellow top seven teams (does that make sense?), so its up to us to hold serve at home and stay on top.

We should really be eight points clear at the top, but its our own fault we aren't, as consecutive losses followed by the draw at Kumagaya has us level on points with Tochigi, with another four teams within three points of us, as we enter the business end of the season with 15 games left.

The manager will make one enforced change, as Hokuto Nakamura is suspended after racking up four yellow cards, and, it appears, one he'd prefer not to make as Masato Morishige looks likely to miss this game after turning his ankle at training on Wednesday.

On the Gas Prediction:
IN: Konno, North
OUT: Morishige, Hokuto
Takumi Abe is the natural replacement for Nakamura at left back, but in yesterday's training session at Aji Sta Kenta Mukuhara played there, with Yuhei Tokunaga returning to right back and Jade North and Tomokazu Nagira in the centre.

With Yasuyuki Konno available again after Japan's two World Cup qualifiers, he's nailed-on to return at centre half, so if yesterday is any indication (and if Morishige is indeed out) its between North and Nagira to partner the captain.

Therefore all signs point to the Aussie getting the nod for his second start of the season, as he's moved back ahead of Nagira in the pecking order and was on the bench at Kumagaya.

Further up the pitch you'd expect there won't be any changes, even though our build up and attacking play has been fairly stagnant in recent weeks. That means it'll be another start on the bench for Naohiro Ishikawa, while Genki Nagasato and Daisuke Sakata will hope to be involved (and both should be ahead of Tatsuya Suzuki) at some point.

Daiki Takamatsu has returned to training, but is extremely unlikely to make the bench just yet as he recovers from his broken leg.

We battered them 4-1 at their place back in Matchday 8, part of their horror start to the season that saw them sit in 19th with just one win in their first nine. Starting from Matchday 10 though they've been much improved, and its no coincidence that that game marked the end of the Diego era in Kyoto, as the fat mess fell right out of favour and has since moved to Sendai on loan.

In all seriousness though they've improved thanks to their young players, as manager Takeshi Oki realised his team's season was going nowhere. He got shot of Diego, decreased the role of the greasy Dutra (only five starts since their turnaround began), and gave the youngsters a much more prominent role.

Tomorrow they're likely to have a front three of 17 year old forward Yuya Kubo, 18 year old Yuta Ito and the grandpa of the group, 19 year old Takumi Miyayoshi, while their holding midfielder, Jung Woo Young, who plays in the mould of our own Takuji Yonemoto, is just 21.

Last weekend they hosted Ehime FC in what sounded one of the most drab 0-0's ever played (6 shots to 4), fielding the same XI as in the week before's momentous 2-1 over Chiba at Nishikyogoku. That XI was: (3-4-3) Mizutani; Sakai, Akimoto, Morishita; Jung, Komai, Ando, Nakayama; Ito, Kubo, Miyayoshi.

We're back at Aji Sta, we need to get back on track, and on a weekend where 2nd-placed Tochigi visit Sapporo (4th) and Tokushima, in 3rd, travel to Kitakyushu (7th), we could open a smidgen of breathing room with a win tomorrow.

Much will depend, as usual, on how effective we are at building our attacks, and its up to Casual to pull the strings while we need much more in the final third from Naotake Hanyu and Lucas than they've shown in recent weeks. The visitors will definitely pose a threat, and our fullbacks will need to be wary of pushing up too high as the pace and movement of Kyoto's front three could be damaging, but you'd expect experience will triumph over youth here.

The second game of our long unbeaten run earlier in the season was against these, did we start another one last Sunday and will it continue here?
Sure hope so.....Home Win


  1. Verdy should actually be 15 points clear at the top of J1 and World Club Champions but they lost loads of games and somehow dipped out.

  2. Looking forward to being back as Sadler and Waldorf in aisle 42. I expect 90 minutes of frustration perhaps relieved by penalty, dubiously earned by Yazawa.

  3. Touche.
    I knew that would come off sounding arrogant/pompous/whatever, but fuck it, its true.

    You popping up to Kumagaya tomorrow? Cracking place, can't recommend it highly enough, you'll love it!

  4. The beer goggles were definitely in effect last Sunday, TB, it wasn't a pen as it turns out! One thing the ref got right, I still insist he had a mare.

  5. no one can argue with 6-1. So here is me not arguing.

  6. my favorite is Sakata not knowing how to do Sha Sha Sha and one of their PR guys teaching him how to do it in front of LA 12....amazing.

  7. Agreed, that was brilliant! Should've mentioned it in the podcast.