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Friday, February 3, 2012

FC Tokyo Update: A Month To Go!

With today marking a month until FC Tokyo's first game of the 2012 season, the Xerox Super Cup against Kashiwa, now seems like a good time to post on the goings on at the club in recent weeks.

New Manager, New Players
I hadn't written about it on the blog, but the club named Ranko Popovic our new manager right after the Emperor's Cup final win, and the Serbian arrives after one season with Machida, during which he guided the west Tokyo club to third in the JFL, and into J2 in 2012. Before taking charge of Zelvia he spent half a season with Oita (2009), but as they were already in a massive hole when he took charge he was unable to save them from relegation, despite a ten game unbeaten run at the end of the season.

Popovic has said all the right things so far, the supporters seem to have warmed to him, and everything I've seen from Kodaira suggests the players have too, so after getting everyone on side so quickly, the biggest task he faces in the next month is figuring out what formation and personnel he wants to take into the first week of the season when we face some big early tests - Kashiwa in the Super Cup, Brisbane away in the Champions League and Omiya away in J1 Matchday 1.
L-R: Dorompa, Kaga, Ota, Hasegawa, Watanabe, Popovic,
Maruyama, Kawano, Hayashi, Hashimoto
I wrote about the arrivals of Kosuke Ota and Hiroki Kawano last month, and all of the new players were unveiled at the season-opening ceremony held last Saturday night. After the first official training session of the year a few hundred supporters packed out the venue in Kodaira, where the manager spoke of his ambition for the club and the new players were introduced to rapturous receptions.

After a few days shaking off some rust at Kodaira this week, during which time Lucas and The Salad arrived back in the country, the squad is currently in Okinawa for a seven day training camp, which begins tomorrow and includes friendlies against JFL side FC Ryukyu and Jeju United of the K.League.

New Team Slogan, New Kit
At the function in Kodaira the club also unveiled our new 'team slogan,' and its hardly catchy but we're stuck with it. For what its worth we will apparently play Collective Offensive Attractive Football this season, so that'll be nice won't it?

Another thing I'd neglected to write about was our new kits, both home and away, which were of course on display at the last home game of 2011, to mixed reviews (though I personally really like the away, which some thought too plain.) The club recently released an image of how both kits will look front and back, and while its slightly disappointing we are again stuck with Lifeval as our kit sponsor, and the red on the back of the home looks a bit weird, our first new kit in three years could've been worse... 
The only thing to be settled now is what our A.C.L. kit will look like, and they'd better get cracking on that coz I want one! (KAWANO 17, by the way).

Fixtures Released
Its the day we look forward to all offseason, and this Thursday the J.League finally released the fixture list for 2012. The first game I looked for was the return of Yasuyuki Konno, and he'll be back at Aji Sta with Gamba on July 7th.

The first "big game" comes in Matchday 5 when we visit Kawasucki (I couldn't wait to type that again) Kawasaki for the Tamagawa Classico (April 8th), and then at home in Matchday 13 (May 26th) we'll try for our first league win over Urawa Red Cubic Zirconias since September 2004, and what a great year that was!

Other highlights at a glance: our only league game at Kokuritsu this season is against Kashiwa (yes, same teams, same venue as the Super Cup) on a Wednesday in June (the 27th, 'Matchday 9' but its been moved to between Matchdays 15 & 16 due to our A.C.L commitments); Urawa away is in Matchday 20 (August 4th); the home Classico comes in Matchday 26 on September 22nd; and our last four are Nagoya away, Kobe home, Gamba away and Sendai home.

The full fixture can be found in the right hand column of course.

4th Foreign Player?
We've not heard jot about a fourth foreigner since those rumours about Miloš Dimitrijević came to nothing a while back, and seeing as though we start camp tomorrow it would appear we're set with Lucas, The Salad and Jang Hyun Soo as our imports, with a space open should the need arise mid-season.

I usually like us to fill our foreign player spots, but for this season, with so many new players coming in in important positions (Kaga, Ota, Hasegawa, Kawano and Watanabe), and Yonemoto and Hirayama returning from injury, I can see the logic in prioritising the new Japanese players over helping a new Brazilian bed in to the squad.

Thats us up to date then, One Month To Go!
Up the Gas!

1 comment:

  1. "Collective Offensive Attractive Football".......who says slogans are an utterly pointless, embarrassing waste of time?