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NT Training Day 2
mar28.06_NTcamp.jpg(Click pic to enlarge. Oita's Big Eye stadium can be seen in the distance.) A chilly and windy afternoon yesterday in Oita. The team, now joined by Tamada and Kubo, but missing Endo (who has withdrawn due to injury to his thigh), played a practice game against a local high school team.

Zico surprised players by suddenly informing the team there and then that they would play 3-5-2 system. A big surprise considering we had been 4-4-2-ing it for most of the recent games; plus it was important for the team to iron out the kinks in the 4-back system after things fell apart in the Bosnia game.

Here are some bits and pieces reported in the sports rags.

3 defense: Nakazawa - Miyamoto - Tsuboi. Miyamoto was reportedly in a grumbling mood after the game, apparently displeased with the way the defense line performed. He claimed there was too much distance between the defenders. Miyamoto has had a slow start to the season, being off the starting squad for Gamba in the first four games -- after Monday's training session, he remained on the grass after the others had left, to practice feeds with the staff. Reports say that Tsuboi showed stability overall, and I guess he has edged Tanaka out of the spot.

Ono, who admits he is stil at about 40%, seemed to thrive in the 3-5-2 system. Claimed it felt like there were more people in front of him to pass to, and since he is a passer he set up many good plays.

Tamada and Kubo started. Zico likes the idea of having two lefty forwards, and if both are fit enough, is planning on starting these two against Ecuador. In the practice game, they were awkward with each other, trying to get a feel for the other's movements. Though they did try some one-touch zigzagging moves. But very little interaction between the two, and did not look effective.

In the second half, (40 min halves) Zico substituted nine players in, but the change that attracted comment was pushing Tamada down a line to play as an offensive half. From here, he fed many good balls into the two forwards Maki and Sato. Tamada, who had not initially intended to play the full game, ended up playing the whole 80 mins. Although it does sound like an added option in theory, in the end it just means we have one more forward who actually can play better as a midfielder....sigh!

The game ended 10-0. With goals from Tamada, Kubo, Sato, Kaji, Nakazawa, Abe, Maki

As for Zico himself, he has been uncharacteristically avoiding detailed questioning from the press, and has not uttered any comments in response to news about Yanagisawa's injury. Insiders say that he was extremely saddened by the Yana news. He avoided commenting altogether on Monday, and on Tuesday rushed past the press while making jokes that it was too cold to move his mouth. I am always intrigued by the way Zico behaves/responds when it comes to his players; especially when something bad happens to any. There's a fierce sense of loyalty and emotion.

Thursday's Ecuador game is reported to be sold out already, and as it is a holiday, the city expects a nice surge of agme-related tourist activity.
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