Monday 26 March 2012

Enough is enough as pointless Gamba sack Serrão after five matches

Gamba Osaka have quickly lost patience with their hapless manager José Carlos Serrão – announcing the sacking of both the Brazilian and his assistant Wagner Lopes this afternoon after yesterday’s 2-1 home loss against Jubilo Iwata completed a run of five straight losses from the start of the season.

Following another dire defeat away to Adelaide United in midweek, it was a familiar story again at Banpaku as Jubilo midfielder Minoru Suganuma found acres of space to lay on a through ball for Kosuke Yamamoto, who coolly opened the scoring on 23 minutes.

The visitors’ lead was doubled on the hour when Ryoichi Maeda netted from the spot after being felled in somewhat comical fashion by goalkeeper Yosuke Fujigaya, who was quite fortunate not to at least receive a yellow card for his actions.

Shu Kurata pulled one back with a perfectly placed header on 84 minutes but the Gamba rally was too little, too late, and club president Kikuo Kanamori remained at the ground with other board members until late at night to determine Serrão’s fate.

Former striker Masanobu Matsunami, who played for the club in the inaugural J. League season back in 1993 and joined the coaching team after retiring with a title winners’ medal in 2005, will initially take over the managerial reins.

A statement from Kanamori read, “Serrão was unable to impose his style of football upon the team, and we have come to this decision in light both of the five consecutive defeats and of the lack of dynamism in the football played throughout.”


Vegalta Sendai stand on top of the J1 table after thrashing Omiya Ardija 4-1 to record their third win in three league matches.

Cho Young-Cheol netted from close range to give Omiya a first-half lead, but Sendai levelled shortly after the restart through Yoshiaki Ota before pulling ahead thanks to an own goal by the most unfortunate Kosuke Kikuchi.

Further strikes from Naoki Sugai and Ota again completed the scoring.

J2 champions FC Tokyo also retained their 100% record with a 2-0 victory away to fellow high-fliers Vissel Kobe. Naohiro Ishikawa finished off a terrific team goal on the counter after 32 minutes following good work from Yohei Kajiyama and Lucas, while substitute Kazuma Watanabe evaded Masahiko Inoha to seal the win deep into second half stoppage time.

Sagan Tosu earned their first ever J1 win with a solitary goal from on-loan Kota Mizunuma against his parent club, Yokohama F Marinos. However, Consadole Sapporo succumbed to a well-taken brace by Yosuke Kashiwagi of Urawa Reds despite leading through Masaki Yamamoto’s second superb strike in two games.

Defending champions Kashiwa Reysol followed up their 5-1 AFC Champions League hammering of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in midweek by securing their first domestic three points of the campaign, but they needed a dramatic late double from defender Tatsuya Masushima to complete a 2-1 comeback victory over Shimizu S-Pulse.

Kashima Antlers and Albirex Niigata both remain pointless after defeats away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Nagoya Grampus, respectively. Kawasaki Frontale slipped to their first reverse of the campaign, losing 1-0 at home to unbeaten Cerezo Osaka.

- In the two remaining AFC Champions League group games featuring Japanese clubs, FC Tokyo were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Ulsan Hyundai while Nagoya Grampus drew 1-1 at Central Coast Mariners.
- Shonan Bellmare lost their 100% record but held onto top spot in J2 with a thrilling 3-3 draw away to Roasso Kumamoto.

J1 results (matchday 3)
Vegalta Sendai 4-1 Omiya Ardija
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-0 Kashima Antlers
Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Cerezo Osaka
Vissel Kobe 0-2 FC Tokyo
Sagan Tosu 1-0 Yokohama F Marinos
Consadole Sapporo 1-2 Urawa Reds
Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 Shimizu S-Pulse
Nagoya Grampus 2-1 Albirex Niigata
Gamba Osaka 1-2 Jubilo Iwata

J2 results (matchday 5)
Mito HollyHock 0-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Kataller Toyama 2-3 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Kyoto Sanga 2-1 Machida Zelvia
Fagiano Okayama 2-1 Montedio Yamagata
Avispa Fukuoka 4-0 Gainare Tottori
Yokohama FC 0-2 Ventforet Kofu
Ehime FC 1-1 Tochigi SC
JEF United Chiba 3-0 Tokushima Vortis
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Roasso Kumamoto 3-3 Shonan Bellmare
FC Gifu 0-2 Oita Trinita

AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 2)
Group E
Adelaide United (AUS) 2-0 Gamba Osaka (JPN)
Pohang Steelers (KOR) 0-2 Bunyodkor (UZB)

Group F
FC Tokyo (JPN) 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai (KOR)
Beijing Guoan (CHN) 1-1 Brisbane Roar (AUS)

Group G
Central Coast Mariners (AUS) 1-1 Nagoya Grampus (JPN)
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR) 1-1 Tianjin Teda (CHN)

Group H
Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) 5-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR)
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) 1-2 Buriram United (THA)

Yamazaki Nabisco Cup group stage results
Group A
Urawa Reds 1-0 Vegalta Sendai
Sagan Tosu 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Cerezo Osaka

Group B
Consadole Sapporo 0-1 Albirex Niigata
Kashima Antlers 2-0 Vissel Kobe
Omiya Ardija 1-1 Yokohama F Marinos

posted by Ben Mabley at 18:08 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 19 March 2012

Special: The Osaka derby and the 2012 J. League with Sean Carroll and Nobuyuki Tosey

Football Japan’s Ben Mabley is joined by Sean Carroll and Nobuyuki Tosey to reflect on Saturday’s Osaka derby and present an ever-so-slightly belated preview of the 2012 J1 season.

J1 results (matchday 2)
Kashiwa Reysol 0-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Urawa Reds 1-0 Kashiwa Reysol
Yokohama F Marinos 0-2 Vegalta Sendai
Albirex Niigata 1-2 Omiya Ardija
Cerezo Osaka 2-1 Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse 2-1 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Jubilo Iwata 2-1 Sagan Tosu
Vissel Kobe 2-1 Consadole Sapporo
FC Tokyo 3-2 Nagoya Grampus

J2 results (matchday 3)
Montedio Yamagata 3-2 Oita Trinita
Kyoto Sanga 2-0 Roasso Kumamoto
Gainare Tottori 0-3 Machida Zelvia
Tokushima Vortis 0-1 Tochigi SC
Matsumoto Yamaga 1-0 Giravanz Kitakyushu
Shonan Bellmare 3-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Kataller Toyama 1-4 Tokyo Verdy
FC Gifu 0-0 Thespa Kusatsu
Fagiano Okayama 0-3 Mito HollyHock
JEF United Chiba 3-0 Yokohama FC
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Ehime FC

posted by Ben Mabley at 19:20 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 12 March 2012

Six-goal thriller for Reysol and Marinos while Kobe ease to Kansai derby win

A minute’s silence was observed at football grounds across Japan as the 2012 J1 season kicked off on the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of the country on 11 March last year.

Defending champions Kashiwa Reysol were fittingly involved in the most entertaining and dramatic fixture of the opening weekend, leading three times but ultimately having to settle for a share of the spoils in a 3-3 draw at home to Yokohama F Marinos.

Having suffered a shock defeat away to Buriram United of Thailand in the Asian Champions League in midweek, Kashiwa were quick to demonstrate that they had lost none of their mojo with an eye-pleasing opener on just three minutes. Jorge Wagner executed a spectacular scissor kick to cut back a lofted free kick from Leandro Domingues and into the path of Hiroki Sakai for his first ever J. League goal.

Masashi Oguro equalised soon afterwards with a close range volley that was every bit as impressive, but the hosts were back in front in still only the 12th minute thanks to a perfectly placed shot from new Japan international Junya Tanaka.

Returning to Marinos after a successful year on loan at Ehime FC, 21-year-old Manabu Saito then exhibited his exciting potential by firing home a second equaliser from just outside the box after three defenders had failed to stop his dribble from the right flank. Again, however, the visitors’ hard work was undone when they left Leandro far too much room to run and size up a delightful effort from 25 yards that left Hiroki Iikura stranded.

Yokohama thought they had levelled things up again when Oguro’s shot bounced off the crossbar and seemingly just behind the line, only for the officials to controversially signal play to continue. But their great persistence finally paid off in the second minute of stoppage time when substitute Hiroyuki Taniguchi got his head to a Yuzo Kobayashi cross to tie things up once again.


Vissel Kobe laid down an early marker for supremacy in the Kansai region with a 3-2 win away to Gamba Osaka that was perhaps more comfortable than the final scoreline appears.

A woeful lack of coherency throughout the home eleven was well exemplified when Kobe new boy Takuya Nozawa slipped over in the penalty area, but was still granted enough time and space to stand up and square for an unmarked Yoshito Okubo to slot into the empty net.

Paulinho marked his Gamba debut with an impressive equaliser from 25 yards, but Nozawa set pieces laid on further goals for Okubo and Hideo Hashimoto – who left Banpaku after 14 years at the end of last season. A late rally saw Rafinha pull one back deep into added time.

Brazilian veteran Lucas hit a stunning winner from the D as J2 champions FC Tokyo, inspired by the heroics of goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, celebrated their return to the top flight with a 1-0 victory at Omiya Ardija. Fellow promoted sides Consadole Sapporo and Sagan Tosu made steady starts with goalless draws at home to Jubilo Iwata and Cerezo Osaka, respectively.

A Joshua Kennedy penalty was sufficient to seal a 1-0 success for an influent Nagoya Grampus against Shimizu S-Pulse, while new Urawa Reds manager Mihalo Petrović and defender Tomoaki Makino suffered defeat by a similar scoreline in their first return to Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Elsewhere, Kawasaki Frontale beat Albirex Niigata 1-0, while a meeting of the two J1 clubs most directly affected by last year’s disaster saw Vegalta Sendai edge Kashima Antlers by the same score thanks to a headed goal from new arrival Taikai Uemoto.

- Japan will renew their rivalry with last year’s Asian Cup final opponents Australia in the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Their group also contains Oman, Jordan, and Iraq – who are managed by former Samurai Blue boss Zico.
- FC Tokyo opened their ACL campaign with a 2-0 win away to Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, but there was disappointment elsewhere as Nagoya were pegged back to a 2-2 draw with Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, while Gamba were thrashed 3-0 at home by Pohang Steelers.
- Tokushima Vortis head the embryonic J2 table after a 3-0 victory over FC Gifu.

J1 results (matchday 1)
Consadole Sapporo 0-0 Jubilo Iwata
Vegalta Sendai 1-0 Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus 1-0 Shimizu S-Pulse
Gamba Osaka 2-3 Vissel Kobe
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1-0 Urawa Reds
Sagan Tosu 0-0 Cerezo Osaka
Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 Albirex Niigata
Omiya Ardija 0-1 FC Tokyo
Kashiwa Reysol 3-3 Yokohama F Marinos

J2 results (matchday 2)
Mito HollyHock 1-0 Kataller Toyama
Tochigi SC 0-3 Oita Trinita
Machida Zelvia 0-1 Avispa Fukuoka
Matsumoto Yamaga 1-2 Montedio Yamagata
Tokushima Vortis 3-0 FC Gifu
Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-0 Fagiano Okayama
Thespa Kusatsu 1-3 Shonan Bellmare
Tokyo Verdy 1-3 Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama FC 0-0 Ehime FC
Roasso Kumamoto 2-1 Gainare Tottori
Kyoto Sanga 2-0 JEF United Chiba

AFC Champions League group stage results (East Asia, matchday 1)
Group E
Gamba Osaka (JPN) 0-3 Pohang Steelers
Bunyodkor (UZB) 1-2 Adelaide United (AUS)

Group F
Brisbane Roar (AUS) 0-2 FC Tokyo (JPN)
Ulsan Hyundai (KOR) 2-1 Beijing Guoan (CHN)

Group G
Nagoya Grampus (JPN) 2-2 Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (KOR)
Tianjin Teda (CHN) 0-0 Central Coast Mariners (AUS)

Group H
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) 1-5 Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN)
Buriram United (THA) 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol (JPN)

posted by Ben Mabley at 18:14 | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) | Minutecast | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

Monday 05 March 2012

Kashiwa take opening silverware as new boys struggle at J2 kickoff

J. League title holders Kashiwa Reysol clinched the first silverware of the new season with a 2-1 victory over Emperor’s Cup winners and J2 champions FC Tokyo in the Fuji Xerox Super Cup in the capital on Saturday.

Despite opening the game in rather sluggish fashion, Reysol took the lead after 26 minutes with a moment of inspiration from one of their Brazilian stars. Jorge Wagner collected the ball in midfield after a scrambled clearance from the back, and as the Tokyo defenders fatally stood off and allowed him time and space, the 33-year-old set his sights and fired beyond Hitoshi Shiota from almost 30 yards.

The advantage was doubled shortly before half time, after veteran forward Hideaki Kitajima was clumsily bundled over in the penalty area by Masato Morishige. Wagner’s compatriot Leandro Domingues made no mistake with the resulting spot kick, placing it calmly into the net high to the ’keeper’s right.

Tokyo earned a lifeline 20 minutes into the second period through new signing Aria Jasuru Hasegawa. The former Yokohama F Marinos midfielder saw his initial effort parried by Takanori Sugeno, but pounced to head home when Kashiwa defender Wataru Hashimoto failed to clear the rebound.

Ranko Popović’s side steadily recovered their momentum thereafter in search of an equaliser, but were unable to break down the champions’ resistance despite a lively cameo appearance from former Japan international Naotake Hanyu.


The two newly-promoted sides from the third-tier Japan Football League (JFL) endured a tough start to life in the fully professional ranks as the J2 season kicked off on Sunday.

Matsumoto Yamaga, who finished fourth in the JFL last season, put up a determined showing in the first half of their trip to former Japanese champions Tokyo Verdy but were undone by two goals in seven minutes early in the second – Yuki Kobayashi and Josimar the scorers.

Meanwhile Machida Zelvia – now under the stewardship of Argentinean World Cup winner Osvaldo Ardiles following the departure of Popović to FC Tokyo – went down by another 2-0 scoreline away to Ehime FC.

Elsewhere, Ventforet Kofu and Avispa Fukuoka both made a good start in their bids to return to J1 at the first attempt – winning 2-1 at home to Tochigi SC and Roasso Kumamoto, respectively.

However, Montedio Yamagata were beaten 2-0 at JEF United Chiba.

- Shinji Kagawa put the memories and jet lag of Japan’s midweek friendly defeat behind him to score the winning goal as Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund clinched a 2-1 victory at home to Mainz.
- Robert Cullen and Maya Yoshida both scored late on to dramatically turn a one-goal deficit into a 2-1 win for VVV Venlo over NAC Breda in the Dutch Eredivisie.
- The group stage of the AFC Champions League gets under way this week, with Gamba Osaka hosting Pohang Steelers of South Korea and FC Tokyo travelling to Brisbane Roar on Tuesday. Nagoya Grampus entertain Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Kashiwa Reysol visit Buriram United of Thailand on Wednesday.

Fuji Xerox Super Cup result
Kashiwa Reysol 2-1 FC Tokyo

J2 results (matchday 1)
Mito HollyHock 2-1 Yokohama FC
Tokyo Verdy 2-0 Matsumoto Yamaga
Ventforet Kofu 2-1 Tochigi SC
FC Gifu 2-2 Gainare Tottori
Fagiano Okayama 1-1 Kataller Toyama
Avispa Fukuoka 2-1 Roasso Kumamoto
Oita Trinita 2-3 Thespa Kusatsu
JEF United Chiba 2-0 Montedio Yamagata
Ehime FC 2-0 Machida Zelvia
Shonan Bellmare 2-1 Kyoto Sanga
Giravanz Kitakyushu 1-2 Tokushima Vortis

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