In the first half our defense was not so bad, but we couldn't finish our attacks off. I thought of changing things up a bit in the second half with the substitutes, and after half time we had more possession of the ball. We still weren’t able to score though, and as we pushed more players forward to attack they caught us out on the counter.
What we learned here is that you need to score when the chances arrive, and that counter attacks can be a strong weapon on any occasion. No matter what system we are playing we should also think about trying to make long runs on the counter. I want to use this experience to make the team stronger to keep fighting in the remaining league matches.
We have another match in three days away from home, and there were also some players whose performances have dropped off a little during this run of games. I discussed that with the staff and that is why we included some fresh faces for this match. It worked well in a way, but there were also some problems with our combinations. Unfortunately our cup run has come to an end here, but we want to learn from this experience and use it to help us focus on the league matches, not with 10 or 18 players but with the squad as a whole.
■ Hotaru Yamaguchi
We performed well and so I don't feel like we lost 2-0. In the first half we should have had more of the ball but weren’t able to, perhaps we were a little afraid of the J1 opponents. In the second half we spoke about improving that aspect and consequently had more possession and created some opportunities. If we had been able to score one of those the game could have been different, but maybe that's the difference between J1 and J2 sides.
However, in the second half we showed that we can compete. Maybe we should have done that from the first half. There were also some simple errors when we had the ball. We felt there was a difference, but if we are able to correct that then we can become a better team able to play well against J1 teams as well.
Cerezo Osaka drew Sagan Tosu away in the third round of the Emperor's Cup, and having played Giravanz Kitakyushu in the league four days earlier and with another match coming up against Tokushima Vortis three days later some rotation was required. Overall five changes were made, with Ricardo Santos starting up front, Shohei Kiyohara and Kunimitsu Sekiguchi lining up behind the Brazilian, and Kenta Mukuhara and Teruyuki Moniwa coming into the defence.
This was the first time Cerezo had faced a top flight side since being relegated in 2014, and Hotaru Yamaguchi suggested after the game that they were initially perhaps a little hesitant as a result. Tosu moved the ball with good rhythm and picked up a lot of second balls, leaving Cerezo struggling to contain their attack.
In the 31st minute Yusuke Maruhashi brought down Tosu striker Yohei Toyoda to concede a penalty, which Toyoda himself converted to give the home side the advantage. Just two minutes later Sagan had another opportunity but goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon got a slight touch on Toyoda's header and diverted it onto the crossbar.
Cerezo finally went close shortly before half time, but Mukuhara was adjudged to be offside when sent through on goal by Kiyohara in the 44th minute. Then, in additional time, Kiyohara had a shot that was narrowly blocked by a Tosu defender.
From the start of the second half, manager Kiyoshi Okuma sent Kenyu Sugimoto onto the pitch and Cerezo started to create better opportunities. Souza was also introduced in the 58th minute and for a while Cerezo had the upper hand, with Ricardo Santos sending two shots narrowly wide.
After failing to take those chances Cerezo embarked on another attack in the 75th minute, but when it broke down Tosu countered. The home side were more ruthless with their opportunity and Takamitsu Toyama made it 2-0.
Cerezo had 11 shots in the second half to Sagan's six, but they weren’t able to find the net with any of them. That means this tournament is over now, leaving just one target remaining for the season – promotion to J1.