2009-11-21 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 0-0 Nagoya Grampus
Posted by stefanole on 2009/12/03
Sanfrecce’s chances of grabbing the final automatic ACL spot in J1 were dashed, as they could only draw against Nagoya Grampus at the Big Arch on Saturday. A fourth-placed finish is now the best Hiroshima can hope for, but even this might be enough to qualify for Asia if the Emperor’s Cup final is contested by teams already qualified for the ACL.
The game was most notable for the return of MORISAKI Koji, who has spent the entire 2009 season on the sidelines. The cause is apparantly burn-out from the stresses of Sanfrecce’s 2008 promotion campaign, in which Koji scored 15 goals from midfield in 44 appearances. Koji replaced his twin-brother MORISAKI Kazuyuki (Kazu) in the 90th minute in a pre-planned substitution (the Ultras knew of the plan beforehand as they had prepared a banner).
Notable also was the early subsitution (after 80 minutes) of striker SATO Hisato. Hisato returned to the side after scoring the second goal for Japan against Hong Kong during the week.
The game was reasonably entertaining as far as goalless draws go, with both sides trying to play attacking football. Wayward passing and ineffective counterattacks were the main order of the day, and without the strong runs of Mihael MIKIC the Sanfrecce attack was noticibly blunter and slower.
Nagoya’s main threat came from Australian striker Josh KENNEDY (a.k.a. “Jesus”, a nickname that has been enshrined in his Wikipedia entry). The former 1. FC Nürnberg and Karlsruher SC player has scored six international goals for his country, three of them in 2010 World Cup qualification matches in the Socceroos’ successful campaign.
Kennedy’s threat was great enough to provoke a defensive reshuffle. While Sanfrecce’s absent Bulgarian, Ilyan STOYANOV, would have been the perfect choice to man-mark Kennedy, his defensive replacements are not up to the job of containing the 6′ 4″ frontman. The job was therefore given to the 6′ 2″ reserve defender MORITA Kohei, and he did a good enough job for Kennedy to become visibly frustrated near the end. The reshuffle was completed by defensive midfielder’s NAKAJIMA Koji’s moving back into the defence, and MORIWAKI Ryota’s being moved from defence into defensive midfield (and then attacking midfield when TAKAYANAGI Issei was withdrawn in the second half).
Moriwaki seemed to relish his new-found freedom, and he saw a 25-yard effort hit the crossbar in the 34th minute. Kennedy missed a chance to put Nagoya ahead in the 51st minute, as Nakabayashi failed to deal with a cross that skipped right across the goalmouth. He also missed a header under pressure from Morita in the 63rd minute.
Kennedy turned provider in the 77th minute as he drew Nakabayashi out and crossed to Igor BURZANOVIC, but the Montenegrin screwed his header wide as Makino covered the goal-line. Makino really seemed to be everywhere during this game, something which prompted Claire and I to laugh at the imaginary sight of Makino steaking up the wing in a goalkeeper’s shirt. The missed chance underlined the wisdom in giving Morita the responsibility of keeping Kennedy in check, as it was during rookie midfielder YOKOTAKE Tsubasa’s watch that Kennedy was allowed to streak past Nakabayashi.
Sanfrecce resisted Grampus’ attempts to press them into submission, and KASHIWAGI Yosuke almost won the three points for the Purple Archers in the 86th minute. Nagoya were probably feeling the eyes of their manager Dragan STOJKOVIC burning a hole in the backs of their heads, as Grampus defender YOSHIDA Maya clattered into the back of TAKAHAGI Yojiro after he had already passed to Kashiwagi. The offense was apparently completely missed by referee IIDA Jumpei, since he neither signalled that he was playing advantage, nor did he caution the player responsible. Indeed, Iida chose instead to book the victim, with Takahagi recorded as having received a yellow card (presumably for protesting the stupid decision to ignore a deliberate body-check) on 84 minutes. (In Japan, match times are recorded using the previous minute, rather than the “Xth” minute which is the preferred system everywhere else.)
Nagoya were left hanging on in the final minutes, as Sanfrecce reversed their attempts to press them earlier in the game. LEE Tadanari was unable to get enough power on a header after a shot was deflected upwards, and the Grampus keeper was able to save.
The result sees Sanfrecce move up to fifth place, two points behind fourth-placed Urawa Red Diamonds. With two games remaining, away at Jubilo Iwata and at home against Kyoto Sanga, fourth place is the best we can now achieve.
After the match, manager Mihailo PETROVIC said this (this version cleaned-up by myself; original translation here):
After today, we can no longer finish top in the league, but nobody have predicted us being on the top or third in the league. For the final five matches, we had the chance to finish top. This has been a great season. From last year in J2 to this year, we have had a couple of great seasons. In my 35-year professional career, this is the best moment. It is great that we could play such a even match against Nagoya.
I don’t think only of myself as a coach. I work by thinking about the club’s philosophy. Not by buying five or six players to qualify for the Asian Champions League; but by developing young players, we try to qualify. Nobody can guarantee that they can improve a team by bringing in new players, but with our system the team is continually developing. To move forward with players through hard-work and effort; that is Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The number one thing that we can take away from this year, is that we have impressed Hiroshima’s soccer style to clubs of other fans and that we, Sanfrecce, can be respected.
13,728 (Average 15,494* J-League average 19,278**)
YOKOTAKE (TAKAYANAGI 58′)
LEE (HISATO 81′)
KOJI (KAZU 90′)
TAKAHAGI (YC, 85′)
KOJI returns after 11 months out.
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.