2009-09-20 Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Posted by stefanole on 2009/09/30
Sanfrecce’s title ambitions were dented slightly as they were unable to overcome relegation-threatened Reysol at the Hitachi.
Hisato missed two very good chances early on to put Sanfrecce ahead; once after being put through on goal by an Aoyama long-ball and once after Mikic cut inside and Kashiwagi flicked the ball on. Both narrowly missed the goal when on another day they could easily have nestled in the back of the net to put the game beyond Kashiwa from the outset.
It was Reysol who went ahead though, and they did it via another basic error by Sanfrecce keeper NAKABAYASHI Hitotsugu. An attempted punch from a poor corner from Kashiwa was bungled by Nakabayashi, who managed to fist the ball straight at the legs of the incoming yellow shirt of MURAKAMI Yusuke. It was a combination of a poor decision to punch (he could have easily caught the ball) and poor execution which combined to present Murakami with possibly the easiest goal he’s scored in his career. Nakabayashi needs to learn to compete with attackers and catch the ball, jumping over players if necessary and taking the free kick if it is then offered by the referee. Nakabayashi’s reaction indicated that he thought the fact that a Reysol attacker was standing in front of him was grounds in itself for a free-kick, when clearly this is not the case. It is possible that Reysol’s manager identified Nakabayashi as the weak link, in which case the corner was deliberately poor (i.e. played into an area in which the keeper would be expected to deal with it easily).
I was surprised by a student at one of my schools when he asked me if I thought Nakabayashi was a J1-quality keeper. The answer is obviously not, since he is a young understudy drafted in for cover for the injured SHIMODA Takashi (who has played over 100 games for Sanfrecce but is now getting on a bit and has visibly put on a lot of weight), and is only the first-choice keeper now because SATO Akihiro (who himself has only just turned 23 and is only four months Nakabayashi’s senior) was injured earlier in the season. His only competition at the moment is the presumably still-recovering Shimoda, who is preferred on the bench to 19-year-old HARA Yutaro, who was only promoted from Sanfrecce Youth at the start of this season. Really it will be disappointing if Sanfrecce’s surprise push for the title is stymied by insufficient cover between the sticks, but until recently Nakabayashi was doing a competent job, if not a particularly excellent one. Here’s hoping he can clean up his act in the coming games.
The Sanfrecce equaliser was perhaps inevitable in the face of such relatively poor opposition, especially given that the previous result between these two sides was a 4-1 victory for Sanfrecce back in April. Whereas Reysol’s goal was a gift, Moriwaki demonstrated that a characteristic of Hiroshima is that they know where the goal is. Of the regular outfield players, only Mikic I think is the one who has failed to score this season; Sanfrecce’s can threaten the opposition goal from any position. After collecting a loose ball in the penalty area, Moriwaki jinked the ball sideways and blasted it inside the post, much like Kashiwagi did against the F Marinos. The celebrations were a little overblown though, with the manager and coaching staff having to remind the players that the match was still there to be won.
There was also a penalty incident in the 64th minute, when Hisato was crashed into from behind while through on goal by a desperate Reysol defender. The only reason I think the defender was not sent off (for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity) and a penalty given is that Hisato managed to squeeze off a shot despite his trailing leg having been demolished by the defender’s tackle. I’m getting so used to these kinds of difficult decisions just being ignored by Japanese referees though that I find it difficult to be incensed by them any more. What is more telling is that this incident was missed off one highlights reel I managed to find, which I believe to be from a highlights show. I only saw this incident after finding a fan-made highlights reel, which is quite typical of the Japanese media’s reporting of the J-League: any sniff of a “controversial” (i.e. “wrong”) decision is erased from the record.
Having said that, it appears from the reverse angle that Moriwaki controlled the ball with his hand just prior to scoring the equaliser, so it probably balanced out in the end. None of the Reysol defenders appealed for the handball though, so it may be that the camera angle is deceptive.
Sanfrecce were almost stabbed in the back by Reysol at the death though, as Popo was invited to shoot from range by the Sanfrecce defence. Nakabayashi’s save was not at all convincing, as he scooped the ball sideways after misjudging the flight of the ball, which was probably relatively straightforward since there was no rotation on the ball. Nakabayashi was forced into a genuine reflex save fom a close-range shot from the resulting corner, which he dealt with more competently. The four minutes of additional time passed without further goals.
What the highlights reels don’t explain is why the referee felt he needed to issue six yellow cards in total (even without the red card mentioned earlier). I haven’t been able to find any specific information, but the word is that the game was played in a very poor spirit, with simulation attempted by both teams. I really hope that this isn’t the case, but the debate over diving in the J-League that has rumbled on this season may be coming to a head in the coming games as there are more and more complaints (and less and less firm action taken by referees). There is even talk of a fan petition to the J-League requesting that they do something to stamp out simulation in Japanese football. When the revolution comes, I sincerely hope that there won’t be any Sanfrecce players lined up against the wall (that means you, Mr Makino).
Finally, I should note that defensive anchor Ilyan STOYANOV was absent from this game, after being withdrawn from the win against Yokohama F. Marinos with a head injury. Here’s to a speedy return Ilyan, as we can ill-afford your absence from the team at this crucial stage of the season.
10,507 (J-League average 19,278**)
Murakami 53′ (1-0)
Moriwaki 84′ (1-1)
TAKAHAGI (TAKAYANAGI 46′)
RI (MIKIC 62′)
HIRASHIGE (HATTORI 67′)
MIKIC (YC, 34′)
KASHIWAGI (YC, 42′)
MAKINO (YC, 42′)
YOKOTAKE (YC, 72)’
STOYANOV misses the game through injury. MORIWAKI replaces him in central defence, AOYAMA replaces MORIWAKI at right back, and YOKOTAKE replaces AOYAMA in defensive midfield.
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.