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Overseas Players Catch-Up
A mish mash of catching up to do for our players in Europe. I'll get started with some of them now -- though if you have news about any of the others, please leave a comment. It's hard for me to keep up with everything... and I would expect some of you have a better access to some of the leagues!

Sota Hirayama Striking a Sheepish PoseSota's First (and Last?!) Day as Model

Nope, never want to see this pose again!! -- Sota Hirayama is stretching his wings... as a runway model? I'm not sure whether it's for charity or a favor for a friend of the club, or just fun PR, but I guess the team got roped into it somehow. >>Click to see photos at sotahirayama.nl

In football, Sota hasn't been scoring and has been on and off the starting roster. But I don't think he's been playing poorly -- we've seen scenes where he has shown good control, strength, technique, height and a clear visualization of the shot. I guess really he just needs to score...

At the club website, where they are doing a poll of who fans think is the Best Player of the season, Sota is currently at the top. If you'd like to vote too, >>here is the site.

Celtic Nab First Title of the Season

The finals game between Celtic and Dunfermline in the CIS Insurance Cup took place on March 19. There was a lot of pressure for Celtic to win. Everyone assumed it, expected it, and with the interwining of the day's events with Celtic's tribute to Jimmy Johnstone (all the players's shorts had #7 on the back of the thigh, and after they won, every player changed jersey to Johnstone's 7) and that's a tough thing to play into. Fortunately, Celtic won without too much danger 3-0. Shunsuke Nakamura, who's appearances have been spotty throughout the past month or two, played a full
game and contributed to setting up chances and goals.

A few days ago, Celtic played a league game against Inverness, which they won 2-1 -- the first goal, a header from McManus was scored off a Nakamura corner kick. >>Right click and download assist/goal video Shunsuke had two point blank-ish chances which the keeper got to unfortunately. The first was 15 seconds into the game, Shunsuke took the ball from the right, cut in with some dribbling, and took a fast shot to goal right but the GK's reflexes were sharp enough to get on top of it.

Shunsuke's current position in the team is hot and cold; his injury worries that carried over from February was the first stumble, and while he was out of play Celtic had multi-goal landslide victories, and some articles had speculated about whether he could be dropped from starting. His performance as far as I can see in the Cup final and the recent Inverness games this week isn't bad at all, certainly better than it was a couple weeks ago. A couple goals to his name would probably help.

Magic Number is 2

Celtic have to win 2 more games in the league, and then the League Championship will be theirs. Though sometimes these only-one-to-go type situations are the hardest.

No end to ads: Shunsuke and Junichi Inamoto are going to be in a commercial together for a prepared foods delivery service company called Sugarlady. The point being that these meals are well-balanced and healthy, and easy enough to prepare (thus the use of athletes). >>Click here to see footage of the making of the commercial and the commercials are shown at the end of the clip.

Le Mans Shuffle Down to 8th

Daisuke Matsui played his first full 90 minute game in 3 matches in this week's encounter with Nantes, which ended 0-0. With 46 points, Le Mans are now in 8th place. Though from what I saw of this game, Matsui showed a tremendous amount of toughness around the ball -- keeping possession despite being chopped at and pulled -- he continued to seduce the crowds by sprinkling in a bit of his characteristic flair. But though he gave the supporters something interesting to watch with dribbling and through passes, he was not able to come forth with anything truly spectacular. One instance in which he won the ball back from the opponent in the Nantes box, he chose to send a cross with his left foot -- but the ball was gotten to by GK Landreau, so no assist this week. After the game he made a regretful comment saying he should have been more caring of the final passes he sent out for the finishes.

In the previous round game against Strasbourg on March 11, Matsui did record an assist. He made a very nice dribbling effort into center from the left, getting through two defenders before sending in a short grounder cross for Bangoura to finish. >>Right click and download for match highlight video Strasbourg was leading 1-0 at halftime, but Le Mans' two goals in the second half (which they dominated) gave them the full three points.

Le Mans are aiming for the top 5 spot, but things will become more difficult as the upcoming games include matches against the top two clubs Lyon and Bordeaux. Matsui is currently #2 in the Assist Rankings in the Ligue, so if he can push that number up he may be able to top it by the end of the season.

Okubo Equalizes

Yoshito Okubo has been having a difficult season. He hasn't been starting consistently, and so it's a difficult situation for any forward. But in last week's game against Sevilla, Okubo was sent in in the second half when Mallorca were trailing 0-1. At 71 minutes, when the opponent goalie knocked a low cross down, Okubo was in the perfect position to send the ball in for a crucial equalizer. The game ended on that note, 1-1.

This week, Mallorca played Cadis. Okubo was sent in 33 minutes into the second half. Mallorca won 1-0, and are currently in 13th place.

After Okubo's goal last week, there was some commenting by local Spanish papers that Okubo should be given more time to play. It would help, wouldn't it.

Suzuki Creates Rhythm from Left

Takayuki Suzuki entered the game 23 minutes into the second half for left midfielder Milijaš (so I guess he isn't playing as forward). It was a messy game played in snow, and both teams irritated by fouls and ref calls. Though Red Star had two goals to put them ahead only to have Obilic Belgrade catch up 2-2 by the 35th minute of the first half (both to defensive errors). But a PK awarded Red Star in the dying minutes of the first half gave them the lead.

Red Star controlled the second half, but could not score. When Suzuki came on, he and left defender Luković combined to create well from their side. During a short corner from the left Suzuki sent in a perfect cross to Žigić's head but no goal. During their attack Suzuki penetrated the opponent area and made himself free and available for passes but the team couldn't get the ball to him. Though he wasn't involved in goals, he did bring rhythm to the attack.

Oguro's Boss Goudet Quits

Last week, Grenoble's manager Goudet made a very sudden announcement that he was leaving the club. With 8 games left in the season, it took everyone by surprise, and the reasons behind it have to do with Grenoble's inability to solidify a contract for him next season -- Goudet got an offer from rivals Brest and has decided to hop over there now.

What does this mean for Masashi Oguro, who just went over there a couple months ago? Right now he has not been punching in the number of goals people were hoping/expecting. The club has decided to promote Bernard Blaquart to top team manager -- he has been taking care of youth development up to now. Oguro commented after the first practice with the new boss that Blaquart gives detailed instructions, and seemed optimistic about the effects of a change in direction. In today's game against Guengnon, Oguro is expected to start.

Koji Gets Back to Starting

After not making it to the bench for the March 12 game against Grasshoppers (I'm not sure what the reason was), it was good to see Koji Nakata follow up with two full games. His club Basel's March 19th Round 24 game against St. Gallen which was tied 2-2, and March 22nd Round 25 game against Aarau which ended in a 1-1 draw.

To see video highlights from these games, please go to >>This Page, and choose "Runde" 24 or 25 for the games mentioned above and click the "Anzeigen" button next to the drop down menu. You will see a chart of fixtures with "Video" and a sillhouette of a video camera on the right side -- click that to launch the window. (I usually click the "Video in externem Player starten" link to launch the video in my own RealPlayer.)
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2006/03/24(金) 17:57:52 | | #[ Edit]
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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。