Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
2005-12<<12345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031>>2006-02 ←Navigate Entries with This Calendar
スポンサーサイト
上記の広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。
新しい記事を書く事で広告が消せます。
Miyazaki Starts & New Away Kit
NT2006_groupphoto.jpg
It was a very mild weekend with temperatures high for this time of year and skies clear and sunny. The Japan National Team training camp in Miyazaki started off with the annual group photo -- this year the team donned the new away uniforms. This uniform has not yet been worn in a game, and will be put to the test in the upcoming game against the United States. The "katana" motif is still part of the design -- the eleven gray slashes on the left side represent the sword, and the collar is edged in red to include the rising sun red.

1.29.06_day1miyazaki.jpgThings got off with quite a kick, as 8,000 spectators (some reports even claim as many as 10,000) came to catch a glimpse of the team -- a record number, more than doubling attendances in the past few years of January training camp. Given the attention despite the fact that none of the European (read: "more famous") stars were part of the squad, it may be an indication of the amount of scrutiny and expectation the team should get used to as we get closer to the World Cup.

Before the training began, Zico gave a 5 minute speech to the players as they formed a circle on the field. It sounds as if he will be laying on the whip a little more this year. The first day's menu consisted of one and a half hours of running-oriented drills, mostly sprints. Most of the players had already started training either on their own or with their club, so the overall fitness levels were good. But things will get much more agonizing for the guys starting today (Monday), when the physical coach Satouchi will begin to push into the cardivascular and anaerobic.

If you look at the upcoming schedule in February (see bottom left column of this blog page), you will see we will be treated to four (count 'em FOUR) games next month, and traveling to and from America and Europe. The squad list will change during February, when the Europe-based players are expected to be available for call up. But I think this is a great opportunity for some of the other players who have not had as much opportunity, or are new to the squad.

Point of Interest 1: The return of Tatsuhiko Kubo is probably the biggest news of the past week. He has been away from the team for way over a year, and has come back to football with what seems to be a very new attitude about things. (I will do a profile on him in the upcoming weeks and go into detail there.) Kubo is considered superior in his athleticism and most importantly finishing -- with 8 goals, he has the most goals among the forwards.

Point of Interest 2: Having been off the squad for the latter part of 2005, Akira Kaji has been replaced by Yuichi Komano in recent months. It will be interesting to see whether Zico will go with Kaji or Komano for the practice/mini games, usually a good indication of who is closer to starting in Zico's mind.

Point of Interest 3: Of course it is always refreshing to see new faces on the squad, and the much awaited for opportunity going to Makoto Hasebe and Hisato Sato is something that is going to add a little spice to the competition among the players. Both players are very attractive attacking players. Hasebe has shown his dribbling and creativity, and can burst forth from the midfield. How his abilities compare in the international arena is something to look out for. Sato got the most goals last season in the J1 amonog Japanese players, and fans are looking forward to seeing how his type of forward (Sato has admitted he is a big fan of Inzargi and has incorporated Inargi-like thinking into his own play) meshes with the midfielders.

Point of Interest 4: The defense situation is also a little bit iffy, and I think this upcoming game against the United States will be very valuable in terms of our defenders. The system, using 3-back or 4-back, how our sidebacks do, how the centerbacks do, the communication between the back line and the midfield, whether we can compensate for lack of height, etc. The United States are a top team with an extremely high level of athleticism and finishing capability. The defenders will need to be speedy in movement and reflexes, and it will be a good way for them to measure themselves in those terms.

1.29.06_day1run.jpg(click pic to enlarge)Personally I am happy to see Takeshi Fukunishi back. Also, would hope that Zico gives Shinji Murai more chances on the left side. We just haven't seen enough of him in the NT to get a good sense of how he combines with the rest of the team. At Urawa, left side Alex Santos' position is being threatened by the acquisition of Takahito Soma from Verdy. A year ago, Soma was considered a contender for NT call up, but it never happened. His move to Reds is a curious one, and many will be eyeing the competition between the two at the club. Giving Santos a little more pressure both at the club and on the NT (with the increased use of Murai) will be I think a good thing, as he seems to be coasting a little in this past year or two.

Shinji Ono will join the team on Feb 1.

The group will fly to the US on Feb 5.
スポンサーサイト
Overseas Weekend Wrap-up
Okubo's Goal

Last week I briefly mentioned Yoshito Okubo scored his first goal of the season in Mallorca's league game against Deportivo -- I wanted to follow up with a description of the goal and video. He got his first start in seven games, and his header goal came just after the second half began. He also contributed to the second goal by playing post and allowing an open shot for his teammate. >>Click for video of goal against Deportivo

A Swiss Kiss of Life for Koji

Koji Nakata is set to sign with Swiss league's FC Basel 1893, only technicalities such as a final medical check remain before an official announcement is expected to be made. The deal will keep him there for the remainder of the season, ending in mid-May.

It has been an excruciating season for Nakata in his freshman year abroad. Having been swept into Marseille by former manager Troussier after leaving his former J club Kashima Antlers high and dry, Nakata failed to impress in his first few forays in the Ligue Un. The debut in the snow, the own-goal... and then when Troussier got the axe, Nakata was pretty much kept off the pitch; he played in only ten games, of which only 4 were in league games. In this past month, he has been relegated to playing with the youth team at Marseille, and has been actively seeking a new place to call home.

There was some talk of offers from Belgium, Israel, Ukraine, and even a possibility that Kashima would rescue him if all else failed. Koji had his heart set on staying inside Europe, and though Marseille were gung ho about giving him to Israel's Betar Jerusalem, Koji said no; and no again to an offer coming from the Ukraine league. This did not put him in good standing at Marseille, and the club by then he was forced to train on his own after being taken out of training sessions with the amateur/reserve team. So this transfer inked just days before the January window closed is a kiss of life and will mean an extension of his adventures abroad.

Having just last week lost defender Patrick Mueller in a transfer to Olympique Lyon, Basel suddenly found themselves in need of a replacement. Though Mueller plays more on the right, and Nakata specializes on the left, he flew to Spain where the team was training over the break to try out. After spending three days being tested there, Basel were still not sure and asked that Marseille allow Koji to return for a few more training sessions and some practice games. However, Marseille refused, and for a period it seemed Basel would drop their pursuit.

Basel is currently at the top of the table. Their team includes several Swiss internationals, and is a Big Club with a high quality of play. Nakata has lost a lot of play time this season, and the most important thing for him now is to gain his new teammates' trust and play in as many games as possible.

>>Visit FC Basel website

Celtic 3-3 Dundee U

Shunsuke Nakamura's fever/virus has been nagging him for a couple weeks now, but despite that (and the fact that he performed poorly in last week's match with Motherwell) he was on the pitch at the start of this game. A signature freekick from Nakamura on the right of the box towards goal met nicely with Hartson's head for a lead at 9 minutes. Celtic were able to widen the lead 3-1 by the time Shunsuke left the pitch at 72 minutes, but then things fell apart in defense. A full three points was the minimum that supporters demanded from this encounter against the ninth placed club, but one point was all they could go home with.

These days you can tell when Nakamura is having a 100% day or not by the amount of scrappiness he can bring to his defensive contributions. From his display this day, it seemed he did not have any energy reserves to deal with areas outside of setting up plays: his free kick assist and his set up through pass for another goal, in addition to a couple other very close set piece opportunities. >>video of assist FK

Nakamura posted a message about last week's Motherwell game (rough translation): "This round was an away game at Motherwell. During practice the day before the game, the coach told me to to play on the left. I went into the game having visualized different plays, but I wasn't able to bring those visualizations to reality. My combination with left sideback Camara was bad, and I personally made a lot of errors. I did nothing for the team in terms of creating the game. After I was substituted out, the team got two more goals and we won 3-1. For me individually I was very disappointed in my performance. I hope to be able to contribute to the team's win in the next game. First I have to get healthy and gradually improve my condition."

Le Mans 1-1 Toulouse

Daisuke Matsui played the full match against the 15th placed Toulouse in his ninth consecutive start. Though he could not repeat last round's performance of two goals, he was able to contribute by assisting in the equalizer at 23 minutes. Matsui sent a cross from the right for Tulio's header. The second half's action was kept mostly in midfield with both teams trying to control, and the only real chance for Le Mans was in injury time when Fischer was denied by the bar. >>Video of Matsui assist

Hamburg SV 1-2 Nurnberg

Could it be that the curious rift between HSV manager Doll and Naohiro Takahara may be on the way to mending itself? Takahara had been trying for most of the season so far to control and downplay his frustrations about not being used. However in December Takahara was clearly beyond fed up, and commented that of all the possible outcomes to the transfer issue, the possibility of remaining at Hamburg was least likely. There was no mistaking, he wanted out.

But as Frankfurt began actively pursuing Takahara, and Takahara become more vociferous about wanting out, Doll started to make comments admitting he was in the wrong with regard to not giving Takahara an equal opportunity to prove himself on the pitch during the first half of the season. He added that the Japanese forward put in a solid performance during practices, and that he expects Taka to contribute to the team in the remaining games.

This change of tune may have been a direct result to the difficulty Hamburg was having in finding forwards to transfer in over the break. But even last week, after they were able get Ailton on rental, Doll was heard saying that even with a new forward he expected Takahara to stay.

And this weekend, Takahara got his first start since October 2, 2005. Though the setting was in his favor -- he scored two goals at Nurnberg less than a year ago and has won the three games he's played them -- the match turned out to be a frustrating one for the entire team.

Though Takahara was involved in some good chances, he could not find the much needed goal. One cross from Mahadavikia at 18 minutes gave Taka a great opportunity for a shot but the ball went straight at the keeper. Overall though he looked fit and sharp.

From the start of the game, though, Hamburg looked quite awkward. Nurnberg's pesky and persistent marking denied Doll's men any freedom to dribble or pass, and the ref was busy calling fouls and handing out cards as the ball failed to settle. HSV's passing and positioning was poor, and by the second half they gave Nurnberg the momentum to finish them off.

Hamburg does have some excuse however. New acquisition fw Ailton was okay but obviously needs to work on communication with his new mates -- he got caught too many times off sides. And De Jong, who just joined the team a day before the match, looked heavy and gave the opponents a convenient hole to exploit. Doll will need to work on bringing the team together, and soon -- how he will treat Taka in the coming months is anyone's guess. The important thing is for the "Sushi Bomber" (who thinks of these nicknames?) to get goals goals goals.

Bolton 1-0 Arsenal (FA Cup)

Hidetoshi Nakata played the full game in this upset of last season's title holder. Hide started in left midfield and switched to a more defensive position in the second half.
Another Overseas: Suzuki @ Red Star
suzuki_redstar.jpgSuzuki 19 at Red Star

In his twelfth year as a footballer, Takayuki Suzuki will be playing where no Japanese player has gone before: the professional football league in Serbia and Montenegro. But if anyone is tough enough to deal with it all, it's Suzuki. He had to deal with some pretty tough situations and treatment when he was in Brazil and Belgium (not to mention several bumpy events inside Japan), and he has never let it turn him sour. He's kept his eyes on the ball.

Suzuki has signed a full transfer deal with Red Star -- his first full transfer, after being rented out twelve times. The famed club is populated by many SM internationals, and former J-league Nagoya super-favorite Stoykovic, who is now chairman, has been making a huge effort to make this happen. I hear that the club already prepared a residence and car for Suzuki before he had even flown over.

At the press conference held yesterday, Suzuki greeted the press with a few words in Serbian: "Drago mije.Dobar dan. Ja sam SUZUKI. Hvala Sto ste dosli!" Today, he is off to Cyprus to join the rest of his new teammates for training before the league resumes on February 18.

Due to this transfer, Suzuki will be withdrawing from National Team duties for the next month's schedule. The Japan NT is meeting in Miyazaki for their annual training on Sunday, but I have not heard whether another forward will be called up to take Suzuki's place.

I am not familiar at all with the league or with Red Star apart from their resume/history, but I will try my best to keep up with his situation over there. I wish the best for him.

Suzuki's three salient characteristics are 1) he's left-footed 2) he's not afraid of the physical 3) he's able to contribute defensively while being in an attacking position (forward). There is some chatter that Red Star may be looking at him to play as a midfielder on the left to take advantage of these qualities. Suzuki is one of those players who is willing to do what is asked of him and doesn't seem to be the type to get hung up on which position he plays, so it shouldn't be a problem with his motivation if they do decide to use him as a midfielder. However, changing positions to midfield may affect his chances on the national team.

Or, it could be an interesting turning point for his footballing career. When asked about the risks involved in going to a new league/club with only five months to go until the World Cup, Suzuki said that he isn't one to make decisions now on what may or may not be half a year away. I think at his age (29) and with his experience, it makes good sense. Other players may have the luxury or the scruples to be skittish about transferring now, but in Suzuki's case I don't think it should be part of the equation.
Fifa Jumps the Gun on Zico
This World Cup there is an award that goes to Best Young Player. Fifa has come out with a list of those qualified players (under 20 years of age) they believe have the chance at getting this award at the end of the tournament this summer.

What came as a surprise to many Japanese of course, is that Sota Hirayama will be added to the list as a possible contender. >>Click to see BYPA site

Of course, that means he has to get ON the national team bench first... and from the way Zico has responded to nudging from the press about the possibility, we should not hold our breath. Not that Zico has anything against Hirayama. Zico is extremely pleased with the way Hirayama has been performing this season and is following his performances. But he is also very careful about the way in which he calls up new players -- and especially players who have recently caught a wave and are on the upswing. Timing of the callup, the balance of the player's strengths and weaknesses when set among all the other players. It was the same philosophy that kept him from calling up Masashi Oguro in 2004 when Oguro had his most successful year. I think he wants to make sure he gets an idea of the consistency of the player's basic performance. His other concern is also of not tossing players in and out like disposable tissues.

Though people are split on their feelings about whether Hirayama deserves to get a call up now or not, this little bit of media attention is exactly what the award publicity people were hoping for. They admit that though Hirayama is the only player in their list of award winner possibles who has yet to make it to the A squad, they feel he has what it takes to play in the World Cup. They say that they hope by shining the light on him, it will re-energize his motivation and perhaps lead to him getting called up.

If he does, Hirayama would be an easy one to spot -- standing 190 cm tall in a team that averages in the 170s. He is certainly one player that would be strategically easy to predict. The NT is in dire need of goal-getters now, but Zico may feel he is still too green and is careful about psycholocially damaging Hirayama if he is used before he is ready.

In each of the past two World Cups that Japan has played in, a bomb was dropped during the announcement of the WC squad. In France 98, Kazu Miura was dropped. In Japan/Korea 02, Shunsuke Nakamura was dropped. Maybe in Germany 06, we will see a surprise inclusion, not exclusion... and maybe it will be the young Sota.

Hirayama just this week got selected into the weekly Best Eleven as determined by Telegraf and Weekly Football International -- a first.
Schedule Schedule!
The J league revealed the 2006 schedule of fixtures. LNZ, I know you were interested in knowing what games were going to be played, so I will email you April's list today or tomorrow.

For the time being, I will post the fixture list of the first two rounds in March on the left column bottom half of the page. If you would like to know the schedule for another time period, email me. Also, the Xerox Supercup will be held on February 25 -- the league champs and the Emperor's Cup champs play, so this year it is Gamba Osaka against Urawa Reds...strangely enough this matchup is also the J1 opener game matchup as well.

The JFA held a press conference announcing the National Team schedule of games and also the new slogan for Japan in the World Cup: "Samurai Blue 2006"

The internet voters who determined this to be the slogan of choice must have been thinking of the new National kit design, which had been based on the "katana" or Japanese sword. Though a little bit of a cliche (hey, if Tom Cruise has been there, we've done that!) it is easy to recognize from both inside and outside the country. Still, the "Soul of the Samurai" is not an unattractive imagery.

National Team @ Miyazaki

The National team will gather to start off their first camp of the year in Miyazaki tomorrow. I don't know about you, but this is my favorite time of the year...when it's all starting and coming together. All the possibilities, all the games to look forward to. And this year being a World Cup year, even more so.

If any of you are interested in footage clips of the training, email me (if you are not on my mailing list already). I won't post those on the blog.

Shinji Ono has been added to the roster, but will be joining the camp a few days late. He requested a few more days to train with and get reacquainted with Urawa Reds, and Zico gave the ok. Since Ono was in the middle of his season in the Netherlands before the transfer back to Japan, he is closer to full fitness than most of the others anyway.

Takayuki Suzuki has withdrawn from the national team in order to start off his new career at Red Star.

The Japan National team will play in 6+3 (9 total) games before the World Cup starts on June 9th. The opponents so far are the US, Finland, India (Asia Cup qualif), Bosnia, Ecuador, and Germany. There will be two friendlies that will be played in Japan, and one other will be played in Germany right before the World Cup starts.

For the two games held in Japan, it could be Scotland and Bulgaria. For the last game to be held in Germany, the JFA is hoping to play a strong country that will not be playing in the WC. Though the JFA has apparently gotten a slew of offers from the top teams in the world, they do not feel it would be a proper use of a valuable friendly to play a top ten team at that point. The motivation and respectfulness of the opponent would be dubious, and it would be better to play a team that has nothing to lose and everything to prove to truly test ourselves that one last time.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First things first: Will be jump starting my blog again this week with reports from the national team camp (and press conference), a summary of the overseas players games, and we'll begin to look at how each J1 team is shaping up.

Have a great weekend!
Players in Europe
matsui_at_troyes.jpgLe Mans 3-1 Troyes

Daisuke Matsui scored two beautiful goals in the first half to give his team a comfortable and much needed victory in this away game. The first goal was came from a pretty sideways right footed heel shot when a pass off a corner came to him just as he had his back to the goal. The second goal was a rather dynamic and high volley off his left foot as Daisuke stretched to reach. He kept firmly within the defense line while reacting smoothly to a ball headed towards the goal area. Both goals reflected that particular Daisuke flavor that Le Mans supporters have grown to appreciate, lightness and flexibility. When questioned after the game about the difficult volley shot, Matsui said that goals like that sometimes go in so effortlessly and sometimes just won't go in. Though many had their hopes on a third from him in the second half, it was not to be this day. Matsui started and played the full 90 minutes. Le Mans raised their position to 7th. >>Video highlights -- right-click and save

On the 17th, Le Mans won a PK shoot-out 3-2 against Ligue 2 Gueugnon to make it to the semi finals of the domestic Cup after the game remained at 1-1 at the end of the extended period. Matsui was sent in during the second half and also kicked one of the PKs. >>Right-click and save: PK shootout entire video

Heracles 2-1 RBC

Sota Hirayama scored yet another goal -- his 7th of the season so far. A cross from the right met perfectly with Hirayama's head as he sailed towards the goal. The ball scraping past the goalie's fingers to goal right.

Hirayama was unable to score during his last game against AZ, ending his three gamae streak. He commented that playing a top team like AZ he may have gotten too tense and was unable to play naturally. Heracles has a very simple strategy when it comes to their attack, given their relative strength in the league, but perhaps because of that they have been able to utilize Hirayama's height and strength in the air and post plays effectively. And because of the simplicity of their aims, Hirayama knows when and where to expect the ball. In this game against RBC, he said that he was able to play more naturally and relaxed. However, he was subbed out of the game in the second half after colliding with the opponent, and after he began to lose the ball frequently.

Things are not completely peachy for the the youngster. Now that he's had time to settle in at the club, he may have gotten a little too comfortable with his situation. Recently, he was reprimanded by the coaching staff and captain Hoogma for his lack of full effort during training. When he first went to the Netherlands, it was all he could do to keep up with the training pace and the players around him. But now that he's gotten used to all that, he has admitted that the coaches were correct in getting angry, and that he will put 100% into the practices.
>>Right-click and download Hirayama goal

Celtic 3-1 Motherwell

I thought Shunsuke Nakamura would be rested for this one following his absences from practice this past week due to a virus. Despite his fever and stuffed nose, he did show up for the final practice ahead of the game, even saying that it was refreshing to be out and practicing.

But his poor health was reflected in the match, and Shunsuke was unable to make his usual mark on the team. Manager Strachan changed things around by introducing a 4-3-3 system. The team was able to make their chances count and get the goals they needed, and initial reports from Celtic supporters seem to indicate that the defensive work and overall energy was better than it has been lately. I wonder if Strachan will insist on the 4-back defense line or whether it is a matter of who he has available on the roster. Shunsuke was substituted out at 62 minutes, I think it's his second earliest substitution this season. >>Click for game highlights

Grenoble 0-0 Gueugnon

Masashi Oguro had his home debut this weekend. 16 minutes into the second half, he appeared in front of the Grenoble crowd and gave enough of a promising performance to inspire an "Oguro" chant from the spectators. Though the manager was clearly disappointed that Oguro has yet to score a goal, he commented that Oguro played effectively and with speed, demanding into the game with aggressiveness, bringing hope to the supporters. There was one instance where the former Gamba goalgetter found himself face to face with the goalie, but linesmen called him offsides. Unfortunately, his name made it to the match report not for a goal, but for his first yellow card after sliding and tackling the opponent... Last season in the J1, Oguro did not receive one caution.

Mallorca 2-2 Deportivo

Yoshito Okubo scored his first goal of the season. Mallorca was down 2-0 at halftime, but six minutes after returning to the pitch, Okubo created the momentum for the draw by (finally) finding the net.
First Snow
firstsnow.jpg

Winter never quite feels like "winter" until you see the first real pileup of snow. This morning, when I woke up, there it was!

Though the western half of the country has been dumped with the white stuff for the past month, with about a large number of deaths related to the heavy snowfall, my area on the east has been quiet. Big fat flakes, perfect for snowball fights and snowmen on this Saturday morning though. But snow is a terrible pain for people living in the more rural areas and especially dangerous for the elderly. A few days out of the year is enough for me, just to get a sense of "shiki" or the "four seasons".

I've kept things quiet on the blog for the past few weeks, because alot of news is really just transfer gossip and speculation as clubs are putting together their 2006 team and several players try and negotiate transfers abroad. I also needed to take a break from football to re-energize. But in the next week I will begin picking things up again like before!
Then Bosnia
It's official. Our March 1st international match day will be spent in a friendly against Bosnia to take place in Germany (match time is 3 pm local time). Bosnia-Herzegovina is ranked 65th. They failed to qualify for the World Cup, but performed well in their qualifying group with 2 draws against Spain, 1 draw/1 loss against Serbia. And having the game take place in Germany will be good logisticall, both in the ease with which the European players can join the team and in getting used to playing in Germany. The stadium is still not determined.

Pre-match news, updates on National team >>Here, >>Here, and >>Here, as well as GAME REVIEW to follow >>Here.

The day was originally set aside for our Asia Cup qualifying game against Saudi Arabia. But the whole thing turned into a confusing mess because the AFC did not honor their own initial outline for rescheduling and flip flopped on their own rules.

It's a valuable day, given that we are allowed to call the players in Europe, and finally the entire national team can get together. The problems with the way the AFC is unable to stick to their original policy and the suspicious nature of Saudi Arabia's behind the scenes "agreement" with the AFC is enough to make me want to go off on a tirade.

But I won't. The only thing I do want to note is that we have had way way way too many problems like this in the last year, with the AFC and other opponent countries not respecting their promises. The JFA may need to carry a bigger stick or change their own tactics to one that is a bit more savvy.

The Asia Cup qualifier game is rescheduled for September 1, which is not an international match day.

The irony about all this of course, is that as the current Asian Champions, we shouldn't have to be playing in these qualifiers to begin with -- only this year has the AFC changed the rules.
Overseas Weekend
Celtic 4-2 Kilmarnock

Shunsuke Nakamura scored a goal off a free kick in the opening minutes of the game. The FK spot was begging for Nakamura's left foot, and Shunsuke sent a fairly paced shot over the wall to the right of goal.

>>someone has kindly posted a goal scene video (right click and download)

>>BBC Sport game review

Grenoble 0-0 Laval

It's strange to revisit the second division again... reminds me of last year when I was following Daisuke Matsui in Le Mans. Anyway, as you know Masashi Oguro had his first press conference over there last week, and wasn't supposed to play until about the 20th due to his fitness and also his ankle sprain. But last minute issues in the team had the manager suddenly placing Oguro on the bench. Oguro had only had one practice game session with the team before, so I did not expect him to play (or if he did, play only a few minutes). But Grenoble, which is currently having problems finding goals and finishing properly, was having the same problems against Laval on Saturday. Time and time again, they created chances but could not score. A frustrated manager Goudet sent Oguro in at the 65th minute. Oguro looked pretty sharp, but there were problems with lack of communcation and combination, and no goal was scored.

Because Grenoble has been having trouble with scoring, there seems to be a lot of expectation about Oguro and his ability to bring more goals to the team. If he takes too much time until scoring his first goal, the supporters may get harsh and turn on him, but Oguro seems to be taking an active interest in speaking French and English and building good relations with his teammates. Hopefully he will be able to connect better with his team in the next game.

If he can at least find a Futagawa replacement at Grenoble it could do wonders for his goal scoring probability. Futagawa, as some of you may remember, was Oguro's set-up man through the 2004 season (the year Oguro scored the second most goals in the J1 with 20 goals).


GOSSIP GOSSIP

Now we are delving into the murky but entertaining waters of gossip and rumors. Thanks to the local sports papers, there is always plenty of fat on which to chew.

Now that they have let Shinji Ono go, there is some talk that Feyenoord may be eyeing Urawa Reds midfielder Makoto Hasebe, 21 yrs old. The actual transfer period they are looking at would be the summer, after the World Cup. Hasebe, as you know, just got his first National Team call up, and many football experts in Japan think he has the potential to be one of the NT regulars of the next generation. Hasebe has the advantage of being young as well as attractive marketing-wise. Personally I would prefer he go to another league, and perhaps he will get other offers this year.

It's been interesting watching how we in Japan have taken in this sudden news of Shinji Ono's return to the J league. The best way I can describe it is Disappointed Excitement. I think many had wanted to see him go to a new club in a new league in Europe, but there is also an air of anticipation at the prospect of seeing him in Japan again. The irony of course was that Ono was left out of the NT call up list for the Jan/Feb camp and game against the United States because he was in Europe. And the first thing I thought upon hearing he was returning to Japan was "yay, he can join the NT training and go to the US game". But Urawa Reds want him to stay at the club and train with the team in preparation for the season. Urawa play the opening game against Gamba on March 4. It's been four and a half years since Ono last played in the J. Urawa apparently are grudgingly saying they would not put up a stink about Ono going to the US game, but they want him to at least miss the NT training camp that will take place in Miyazaki. Urawa will be without their three NT players, Santos, Tsuboi and Hasebe.

I also hear that EPL club Middlesbrough had put out interested feelers for Urawa Reds and NT left side Alessandro Santos, but Santos had said he was not interested. His main reason being that he would prefer to stay in Japan and maintain his condition and play level ahead of the World Cup. Middlesbrough had apparently wanted him to come to England and train with them as a test and see the club. As some of you may remember, Santos was supposed to go over to the EPL (I think there was offers from Fulham and Crystal Palace) a couple years ago. But he failed to clear the requirements of the EPL with regard to foreign players -- namely that of playing a certain number of games with the national team.

The buzz about Frankfurt's interest in Naohiro Takahara is on again, it seems. The Budesliga club is apparently prepping 1 million Euros and stepping up their negotiations. A German paper also quoted Frankfurt manager Funkel saying that he expects Takahara to come, "whether it's tomorrow or January 31st". I know Takahara will do just about anything to get out of Hamburg, his dissatisfaction seems to be pretty severe. I'm not quite sure what has happened between Takahara and Hamburg manager Doll...

Kashima Antlers may be hoping to sweep in to "rescue" two ex-Antlers currently not-playing in Europe, Atsushi Yanagisawa and Koji Nakata. Yanagisawa continues to fall off the roster for every game; it's gotten to the point where if he plays five minutes of the game it's alot. Koji is currently playing with Marseille's Youth, completely out of the manager's sight and mind. I believe he has passed on the option of going to Israel. Kashima of course, would want them back at their club rather than being put out to pasture. Whether they can come up with a workable plan, I don't know.

There was also some mention of Serie A's Lecce going into the final rounds of negotiation with FC Tokyo over midfielder Yasuyuki Konno. I haven't heard much about this, but it is a possibility. Konno is a shy but very hard-working "keep your eye on the task" player, and I think going abroad would be great for toughening him up while taking advantage of his work ethic. He has avoided making any comments about this rumor, so we shall see if it turns out to be a no-go.

I will address all the main J-league transfer news in the coming week, en masse, after most of the moving around has been completed.
Ono: We Are Reds
Despite some news like >>this in recent weeks, Shinji Ono leaked on his >>website that he will be headed back for Urawa Reds.

I have mixed feelings about this, but given his short term targets (ie. getting lots of play time, getting on the World Cup squad, and creating cohesive plays with NT teammates on the pitch) this may turn out to be a good thing.

Not only will he become part of the "domestic" group (which is extremely weird to think of him) and have the chance to play consistently at Urawa, but he will also have more opportunity to play with the National side.

At Feyenoord, at least, he's pretty much plateaued -- actually, he never really found the kind of dramatic improvements people like Shunsuke Nakamura or Daisuke Matsui have had abroad. Whether that was because his environment at Feye didn't force him to, or whether he didn't allow himself to change, etc., or whether he could not, I'm not sure.

Ono's speed or toughness has not really improved to the degree I was hoping. At least from what I have seen of Feye games over the past years on tv. And last year he missed a lot of games due to his various injuries and thus missed out on valuable time on the NT as well. But his time abroad did give him a kind larger than normal presence.

It will be truly amazing to have a personality like his back in the J-league. I was just moaning to a friend that we just don't have the kind of influential Personality in the J right now -- people like Miura, Ramos, etc., used to be in their golden days. I know that Ono has an especially appealing effect/influence on younger players, and that could be a really valuable thing for Reds and the league in general.

I wish only good things for him this year.
copyright © 2004-2005 Powered By FC2ブログ allrights reserved
copyright 2005 - football (japan) lost in translation
上記広告は1ヶ月以上更新のないブログに表示されています。新しい記事を書くことで広告を消せます。