2009-12-05 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 4-1 Kyoto Sanga
Posted by stefanole on 2009/12/18
The end of the 2009 J. League season was a bittersweet affair for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, as they pasted Kyoto Sanga 4-1. Unfortunately, reports have it that KASHIWAGI Yosuke, the talismanic midfielder who came through the Sanfrecce Youth team, will effectively turn traitor and join Urawa Red Diamonds in the coming days.
The Kashiwagi transfer had been rumoured for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t believe that a player who was wearing a “We LOVE 広島” t-shirt a matter of months ago could possibly want to leave, especially with Asian Champions League qualification still possible for Sanfrecce.
As it is, there were definite signals in this match that the transfer was far from a rumour. The strongest signals came from captain SATO Hisato, who celebrated his second goal in this match by removing his armband and showing the reverse of it to the Ultras in their corner of the Big Arch. Hisato had written a number 10 on the back of the armband, and looked like he was kissing it goodbye. The number 10 shirt belongs, of course, to Kashiwagi, and the television director underlined the hint by showing Kashiwagi’s reaction, which looked like embarrassment as much as anything else. I also heard that after the match, Hisato gave an interview in which he was visibly upset. The reason for this was, in an approximate translation, that ‘this game was the last time this group of players will be together’.
I missed the match itself as I was, ironically, in Kyoto. The prefectural high school football final was on at Nishikyogoku, and I was invited to take pictures as a press photographer. From the highlights and the scoreline in this match though, we can quite safely surmise that Sanfrecce were comfortably the better team. Hisato started the side off with an early goal, as he skilfully volleyed in a rebounded save from a tight angle. The ball came to him after Kazu’s diagonal ball had been met by a sprinting RI Han-Jae, but the departing Korean could not steer the ball into the net in what will be his final appearance for Sanfrecce.
Kashiwagi was similarly denied, as some tight Sanfrecce passing failed to bear fruit. After passing to Hisato, Kashiwagi made a beeline for the penalty area but just failed to chip the ball over the goalkeeper after he had received it from Yokotake.
The official record notes a slight anomaly, as Koji was withdrawn after less than half-an-hour for Yokotake. Whether this was due to an injury, or whether this was due to a lack of will or spirit on Koji’s part, I cannot say. (Koji missed eleven months of this season to what can probably be best described as nervous fatigue.) It could just be that Koji was out of his depth in defence, as it appears he was moved there from defensive midfield in an attempt to shore-up that problematic area, what with Stoyanov injured and Moriwaki suspended. It is a shame though that he could not see the game out, after starting his first game alongside his twin brother Kazu in over a year.
The second goal came just before half-time. RI Han-Jae took the corner, in what was possibly a benign attempt by the Sanfrecce staff to put Ri in the shop window for his move away from the club. The corner was a good one though, as it was met by the head of defender MORITA Kohei with the Sanga defence in shambles. Interestingly, Ri was chosen in J’s Goal’s best XII for the round, which indicates that Ri played his best football only when he knew he had to in order to interest another club (he has been next to invisible for Sanfrecce this year, even when given a chance against J4-level opposition in the Emperor’s Cup).
Kyoto managed to pull one back after half-time, with Sanga’s Diego squeezing a penalty past Nakabayashi despite the keeper’s getting a hand to it. There is no replay of the actual penalty incident, which I’m sure would strike many as odd. Again, I’m assuming that the reason for this is that it was an extremely dubious decision, but in the end it made no difference. Indeed, it was probably the catalyst for Sanfrecce’s two further goals, so i’m not going to complain.
The two-goal lead was restored after an hour, after defender MAKINO Tomoaki showed Hisato-like skill and instinct to control a deflected corner and hook it into the corner of the net past the confounded Kyoto keeper. The goal means that Makino finishes the season with eight, as many as attacking midfielder Kashiwagi. And while joint 23rd in the J. League scoring chart does not sound impressive, the fact that defender Makino has scored as many goals as Vissel Kobe’s Japan national team striker OKUBO Yoshito is quite remarkable. Makino was also picked in J’s Goal’s best XII for the round.
The fourth was added just minutes later, and we can safely assume that Sanfrecce were cruising at this point. A powerful long-range Makino pot-shot was palmed away by MIZUTANI Yuichi, who appeared to be forced backwards behind the goal-line. The loose ball was immediately pounced upon by Hisato, who scored with a competent finish. The celebrations were quite sombre, as the Sanfrecce players took the opportunity to give Kashiwagi a send-off rather than toast the goal.
The rest of the match was punctuated with a good Nakabayashi save as Kyoto made a rare foray into the Sanfrecce penalty area, and Takahagi missed a stopping header from only yards out. Kyoto’s Kakuda also managed to get himself sent off for two yellow cards (not included in the highlights), which would have made things easier still. Nakajima also took the opportunity to collect Sanfrecce’s traditional late yellow card.
Nakabayashi seems to have improved as the confidence of the team has returned, but apparantly that has not stopped the Sanfrecce management from scouting for a replacement. Sanfrecce have dropped points this year due to Nakabayashi’s uneven performances, and I would support a more experienced keeper’s taking over from him. As it stands, the team has no shortage of competent understudies (Nakabayashi, SATO Akihiro, and probably HARA Yutaro), as well as one veteran (SHIMODA Takashi) who is probably past it now since he has been unable to win his place back from Nakabayashi (or Sato for that matter), but noone who is really fit to call the number 1 shirt their own.
All that is left to do now is watch the results of the Emperor’s Cup closely, and hope that Sanfrecce can get into the Asian Champions League through the back door. It would be quite ironic if Sanfrecce were to play in the ACL next season, and leave Kashiwagi behind with his new best friends at Urawa. For now, we wait and see, and celebrate what is Sanfrecce’s best finish in the J. League for many years.
19,303 (Previous average 15,494*, J-League average 19,278**)
HISATO 9′ (1-0)
MORITA 44′ (2-0)
Diego (PK) 54′ (2-1)
MAKINO 61′ (3-1)
HISATO 66′ (4-1)
YOKOTAKE (KOJI 29′)
LEE (RI 80′)
OKAMOTO (KAZU 84′)
NAKAJIMA (YC, 78′)
STOYANOV still MIA. KASHIWAGI prepares to f*** off to Urawa. KOJI makes his first start for a year.
*Average home attendance for Sanfrecce for total of preceding games in J1 in 2009.
**Average attendance for J1 in the 2008 season.