2013-03-13 [ACL Group G] Beijing Guoan (CHN) 2-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Posted by stefanole on 2013/03/14
*article edited March 15th with some more comments. Jsgoal also has an interesting article in Japanese about the creepy atmosphere in Beijing precipitated by having Sanfrecce escorted by five police cars and the stadium guarded by armed paramilitaries and soldiers, as well as constant warnings about air pollution. This culture of intimidation goes a long way to explaining Chinese teams’ success in China against Japanese teams as much as (or even moreso than) superior ability, but Sanfrecce can only learn from this and improve.
Sanfrecce left the Beijing Workers Stadium empty-handed after suffering through another ACL game.
Coach Moriyasu again rang the changes for his match, making five changes from the starting lineup in the J League against Niigata. It is safe to say that Poichi is not making the ACL a priority, and is resting players where he can. He was forced to do this in the case of captain and star striker SATO Hisato, as his substitution against Niigata was due to a muscle strain (possibly adductor if Google Translate is to be believed). This led to ISHIHARA Naoki starting at the tip of the arrowhead, supported by (as best as I can tell from highlight videos) youngsters NOTSUDA Gakuto and PARK Hyung-Jin, 18 and 22 years of age respectively. Park actually made his professional début in this match, a testament to how deeply into his squad Piochi is having to go to keep his players fresh and as injury-free as possible. OKAMOTO Tomotaka also appeared again in defensive midfield/volante, alongside AOYAMA Toshihiro who inherited the captain’s armband from Hisato.
Takahagi and Mikic were not selected in the squad either and presumably remain injured, along with HWANG Seok-Ho. They will be joined by SHIMIZU Kohei, who injured ligaments in his right knee in this match and will be out for eight weeks. In total this leaves five players injured, including Shimizu.
Beijing’s first goal came from a corner on 21′. Attempting to deflect a flashy first-time shot into the net from a short corner, Freddy KANOUTE was hustled off the ball under pressure from Shiotani, but the loose ball fell to Lang ZHENG to fire into the Sanfrecce goal from 17 yards. There was an offside Beijing player standing directly in front of goalkeeper Nishikawa however, so the goal should not have stood as this player was interfering. In fact, AFC.com actually describes how the shot deflected off the toe of this Beijing player (named as Guerron), meaning that this goal was absolutely offside. (Incidentally, AFC.com credits Kanouté in the same article by saying he dummied the ball, but it looks like a total airshot to me rather than a planned maneuver, particularly since Zheng had to backtrack to collect the ball, which lost him momentum. If the tactic was planned, he would have positioned himself outside the penalty area so he could run onto the ball and unleash a more powerful shot. Basically, AFC.com invented a dummy and missed an offside in the same sentence.)
Sanfrecce equalized on 75′ as ISHIHARA Naoki latched onto a deflected Okamoto shot to score from 12 yards. Beijing have reason to be aggrieved though, as Ishihara’s hand clearly went up in the air ahead of him and touched the deflected ball so that it dropped to his feet, before going on to score. Aside from the question of whether Ishihara did this deliberately (he doesn’t seem to be a cheating player and may have been using his arm to avoid running into teammate Park), his arm was in an “unnatural position” and so the handball should have been called. As far as I am concerned, this makes Sanfrecce and Beijing even as far as missed calls go. On the plus side, Ishihara seemed to play well in this match and to possess more of the physical attributes necessary to succeed in the ACL than Hisato does.
Parity wasn’t persistent, however, as Sanfrecce were sunk just four minutes later by a sloppy side-back. MIZUMOTO Hiroki miscontrolled a ball in his penalty area, and was eased off the ball by Paio CHENG, who demonstrated great awareness and control to deflect Mizumoto’s challenge, then turn and shoot from 18 yards. Chiba looked particularly upset by conceding this goal, as he was the closest defender (other than Mizumoto) and could have gotten a saving tackle in if he had recognized the threat Cheng posed despite having his back to the goal for most of his run.
It would be remiss of me to note that Beijing Guoan’s Serbian coach Aleksandar STANOJEVIC was sent to the stands at some point by the referee for miscelleneous histrionics. It is hard to reconcile this with some outlets’ assertions that Beijing dominated for long periods (what would the coach be angry about if his team was so obviously superior?), but the fact remains that Sanfrecce are now bottom of Group G with four games remaining.
Sanfrecce’s next match is at home against Kashima Antlers in the J League, this Sunday, March 17th (the marquee Sunday game).