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Wrapping Up the Weekend
I mentioned in last Friday's entry that Daisuke Matsui (Le Mans) assisted teammate Ba's goal against Paris SG in a friendly game last week. Here's the video from that match... Le Mans play Troyes today at about 8 pm-ish France time, so if you'd like to follow a livecast ouest-france is the place to go.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure if it's a strange set of coincidences... but the very same Paris SG played against Olympique Marseille yesterday in a league game, and Koji Nakata ended up mis-deflecting an incoming cross to score against his own team. Poor guy! Maybe it was the own-goal haunting back from the Bahrain qualifier game last week (though Koji didn't even play in that game). Anyway, it looks like Koji is providing the media with clips that us fans would rather not see. I wonder what it is... just plain bad luck? The curse of voluntarily jumping back into the arms of Philippe Troussier? Whatever it is, I hope this only means that he'll have a run of good luck in the following weeks. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Back at the J. I hear that Urawa Reds is trying to figure out what to do about incorrigible bad-boy Alpay (defender, pictured getting his favorite-colored card representing Turkey back when he wasn't persona non grata on the NT). Urawa are considering getting rid of him altogether. I say, good redcard.jpg choice. Watching him last year, he was already making problems for the team with his thug-like behavior. It didn't help that Keisuke Tsuboi (def) got hurt last summer, which meant that Tulio (who is also known to have poor control over his behavior) joined Alpay in the back line. These two created problems from the beginning of the season, with the infamous vs. Antlers game. Last week, Tulio was injured and is now unable to play for a month. Tsuboi has returned from his injury and is bringing some class back to the Reds. However, in this weekend's game against Oita Alpay got red carded again (first a "regular" yellow for dangerous swipe of the legs, and the second one right after for kicking at a water bottle in anger at getting the first yellow). His repeated expulsions from games (usually from unnecessary actions like grabbing people's faces/hair or kicking at things) only makes the job harder for the rest of the team -- if he hasn't figured this out by now and feels no remorse, he never will be able to change. And not only that, it seems the refs are keeping a particularly strict eye on him. It's one thing to put a little psychological pressure on the ref or opponents, but it's another thing to contribute to your own team's self-destruction. Reds coach Buchwald also tends to allow his temper to get the better of him, and I wonder if this prickliness is part of the atmosphere that surrounds the team...?

In the game against Oita, Urawa's Nene also got redcarded in the first half for dangerous sliding -- Reds had to play most of the game with only 9 players. I tell ya, if Nene hadn't received that red I think Urawa could have pulled out a tie (or even won) -- though Oita had the numerical advantage, Emerson and Tanaka's offensive presence kept Oita players from playing as ambitiously as they should have (I guess missing players or not, Reds were still intimidating to Oita). Oita played a very sad game (finally scoring in the last minute) -- actually, the entire game was rather sad.

I finally did a quick look-see of the Gamba vs. Frontale game, and was glad to see the two goals by Masashi Oguro. The first one was a nice curling ball that came off his right foot from the right outside the penalty box and into the left of the goal. Frontale seemed to have stronger spirit in pursuit of equalizers, but it seems they may still have problems keeping some focus when they are tied or a goal ahead. Frontale was able to equalize 2-2 in injury time, but then a last ditch effort from Gamba left Frontale wondering how they can keep allowing points to slip away in the final moments. In injury-injury time, Endo's free kick to the far side found Yamaguchi's head for an unbelievable comeback.

I was also able to catch a replay of the Omiya vs. Cerezo game. Since they were playing their first J1 game at cozy Omiya Koen, I was hoping Omiya could keep up their nice run of results. I was particularly impressed by Fujimoto, who really hustled and took advantage of speed in Omiya's counter. Omiya's goal originated from Christian, who received and passed the ball without stopping to an on-coming Fujimoto on the left and just kept running forward. Fujimoto did not trap the ball but smoothly deflected it's trajectory forward and a little to the left (shouldering the defender to his right), and ran into the space he created to prepare for a fast cross -- which met Christian's waiting head for a goal. Omiya had a total of 2 shots on goal, versus Cerezo's 9. But Omiya's unified thinking got them the result. [japan football soccer j-league]
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