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Friday, November 18, 2011

Tottori v FC Tokyo: Saturday 5pm

J2 Matchday 36 Preview 

Tottori is Great!!!
After a stirring extra time Emperor's Cup win over J1 Kobe on Wednesday, FC Tokyo hit the road for the penultimate time this league season on Saturday when we pay our first-ever visit to the home of the Gainare Girls, Tottori. Oh, and the first year J2 team, Gainare. As we all know we're all but mathematically promoted, so for the travelling Gasmen supporters this is a great opportunity to visit a new club and a new ground safe in the knowledge that we'll be playing in J1 next season. And perhaps get some camel riding in if time permits...

Unavailable: Shuichi Gonda (Under 22 national team)
As noted above Shuichi Gonda will miss this game (and the final home game against Chiba) as he's away with the Under 22s, so Hitoshi Shiota will play in goal. Nothing else to report in regards to suspensions or unavailability, as thankfully our captain Yasuyuki Konno returned home in one piece from the kicking (literally) that North Korea handed out to the national team on Tuesday. I hope some day Konno writes a book, as I'm sure there'll be a whole chapter on the goings-on in that wacky country from the moment they arrived to spending four hours in immigration to the training session the day before the game with armed guards watching on to the game itself and so on. Absolutely fascinating, but thank the deity of whatever religion you follow that we weren't born there!

So Mr. Okuma will have a full squad of outfield players to pick from, meaning thats the end of Jade North's and Hokuto Nakamura's time in the XI (North was replaced by the returning-from-suspension Masato Morishige in the Emperor's Cup of course), but both performed admirably in their fill-in roles. The only point of contention then, with Naotake Hanyu certain to return after being rested on Wednesday, is which one of Tatsuya Yazawa, Naohiro Ishikawa and Sotan Tanabe will start on the bench. As it was Tanabe in the last league game you'd have to assume he will draw the short straw again, meaning we'll line up:
Tokunaga Morishige Konno Mukuhara
Ishikawa Takahashi Kajiyama Yazawa

Although I guess there's a slim (to-none) chance of The Salad starting ahead of Lucas, but we won't be holding our breaths waiting for that to happen.

19th; W:8 D:7 L:20 GF:32 GA:48 (-16)
Did I mention there are 10 Gainare Girls? (Go on, click on the link, you know you want to.) Fantastic bit of marketing by the new team, even though I'm generally opposed to football clubs having cheerleaders, and while there are a couple of munters in there, and a couple of really young kids (look away...), there are also at least two stunners, and a few others who would look a little better after a few Daisen G Beers.

As for the football team, well its ended up being a rough old first J.League season after some early promise, but they have won eight times, which of course is seven more than Kitakyushu could manage in their debut season last year. Included in there are wins over top half teams Sapporo, Kitakyushu and Kyoto (back when they were shit), while they did the double over Shonan.

They're currently on a four game losing streak (and got battered 5-0 by Shimizu in the Emp's Cup on Wednesday), and their XI for their last league game, a tough 1-0 loss at Chiba was: (4-3-3) Inoue; Tomiyama, Togawa, Mizumoto, Suzuki; Miura, Hattori, Mio; Koide, Fukui, Kim Sun Min. Not too many household names in there, but of course Toshihiro Hattori was once a mainstay of the national team, amassing 44 caps, and is in his 18th profesional season.

Their leading scorer Noriaki Sanenobu (9 goals) was suspended for the Chiba game but he's certain to play in his attacking midfield role, while we may also see striker Hamed, from the Ivory Coast, off the bench.

Should be a decent game, and they'll be up for it in their next-to-last home game of their first J.League season. We beat them 3-0 at Aji Sta back in early August, and with a full strength team here (minus Gonda) you'd have to think we'll be rubber stamping our ticket back to J1 with a win, all but wrapping up the league title at the same time (even a draw would be enough to do that if Tosu lose to Kitakyushu).
Should be a good trip for the travelling fans, capped with an...Away Win.

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