- Let’s play positively together.
- On defence, movements were a little too slow.
- Let’s make some strategy changes at the top.
“First of all, I am so sorry we didn’t satisfy our supporters who came all the way to cheer us. Even though we have just returned back to J1 league after a while and Urawa Red’s is probably the strongest team in the league, our players never gave up and didn’t stop running until the end. But through out the 1st and 2nd half, there was nothing we did right for both defence and offence. I reflect on this game, and do my best to improve our performance for the next game.”
Q: After the 1st half’s performance, what did you try to improve in 2nd half?
“I could see players were rather stiff in 1st half. So I told them that even the opponent was probably the strongest, we should be confident and play positively. I felt they took my words in and worked very hard in 2nd half.”
Q: In your comment at the begging you said “there was nothing good about both defence and offence”, can you give us examples?
“In defence, our blockage was beaten at the 1st layer, and the positioning balances were broken. We’ve been practicing a systematic defence but couldn’t show it in the game. Then we just lost the ball as soon as we had, spent such long time defending, and couldn’t manage to attack much.”
Q: After today’s result, do you feel you want Hiroshi Kiyotake back in action soon?
“It’s not only Kiyotake but we are also missing Kim JinHyeon and Kota Mizunuma, so we are not full in team strength. I’m sure when they are back we should be stronger, however soccer is the game never can expect 100% healthy conditions. So we must get the best out of the players who are available at the time.”
■ Matej Jonjic
Q: Please tell us how do you feel after the game against Urawa Red’s - the team who earned the highest winning points in last season in J1?
“We knew they are strong team, so we thought we prepared… We started play compact, slid to left and right and tried not giving any chance to them, but lost a goal in 1st half, and from that point it became difficult for us. They were such tough opponents.”
Q: You had the 1st goal in Japan. Are you happy?
“I should be happy at normal circumstances, however after losing the game 3-1, I am not happy at all. As a defender I can be happy if I defend well and execute a chance, but I didn’t defend well today. It is important that we don’t allow any goals. And we get goals, then we can be happy.”
■ Kunimitsu Sekiguchi
Q: How do you feel after the game at your former soccer base?
“I feel it’s utter defeat. Though it was 5th game of 5 consecutive matches for them and they must be suffered their stamina, they still managed ball all the time and we lost points, it’s utter defeat for us.”
Q: Were they so strong, even for you who knew how strong they were so very well?
“Yes. And we must be precise on our defence, otherwise not possible to stop their attack. Now we learnt how the top team who are a candidate to be a champion of J1 play, so we reflect on this game and start playing solid for the rest of games, otherwise it’ll be very difficult season for us. We must take today’s defeat as a good lesson, and learn from it for the future games.”
Q: Prioritize on defence was the team plan, but didn’t you have a chance to steal ball, or the opponent was too good?
“Well, they received and turned every ball in between us, so the distance between our tops and ends are getting wider, we became too busy defending, then when we had a chance to attack we didn’t have enough power physically. I was kind of expecting, but became tougher than I thought.”
■ Tatsuya Yamashita
“It was very difficult to form good defence formation against them. They came in deep and our marking wasn’t synching. When we play against Urawa next time, I want to be more conscious about making positive actions. Urawa plays different games, and it would be very difficult if you lose a goal first and made yourself chase after them. If we could manage the 1st half without losing any point it could be different result, I wonder.”
“It was a tough game. They’ve been playing together for long time and had good communication each other. I think we did what we could for now. We must improve at every games, and today’s game didn’t become a game we wanted to be.”
■ Kenyu Sugimoto
“There was a bit of distant but I wish I could keep ball more. We spent most of our time defending, so I was a bit isolated, but it cannot be an excuse, and if I could keep more, we may could have developed some chances. But even if I keep ball I need quicker support, so I will demand it too.”
■ Shohei Kiyohara
Q: Wasn’t it your debut game in J1?
“Unfortunately the team was defeated, but I must carry on this opportunity to play in future J1 games. I will show my ability in training and hope to be picked again. I will be concentrating on building my trust from the manager.”
It was 1st away game in this season for Cerezo Osaka who is back to J1 after 3 years. They played against Urawa Red Diamonds a.k.a. Urawa Red’s, at their home. The game was played in the heat created by 43.826k spectators and that included the manager of Japanese national team, Vahid Halihodzic.
Against Urawa who is probably the best team for passing ball in the league, as Cerezo’s players commented prior to the game “if we just try to steal ball without any plan, they will simply dodge and shift”, Cerezo didn’t set up their pressing point high up, kept 3 lines of 4-4-2 formation compact and created blocking, and tried to pass the ball straight to the front when they managed to steal. They started fine at the beginning of the game though they didn’t possess ball as much as Urawa did. However because Cerezo didn’t try pressing at early point, Urawa’s 3 back formation had ball easily, and at 14 minutes Wataru Endo made an accurate feed to Yuuki Muto. Fortunately Muto made an error for trapping the feed, but at 22 minutes Endo made an another feed, that went through Shinzo Kouroki, then Muto trapped the ball, turned and struck with his waist twisted into the goal, made Urawa’s lead.
After losing this goal, Cerezo became defending at all the time. Even when they managed to steal ball they were stolen back almost immediately by Urawa’s counter press, and at 37 minutes Yusuke Maruhashi of Cerezo lost his ball by Muto of Urawa at left side when Maruhashi was hesitating to pass. Rafael da Silva received the ball from Muto and struck, Cerezo’s GK Kenta Tanno blocked but Kouroki made the rebound to Urawa’s 2nd goal. The pressure was building up by the 2nd goal led by Cerezo’s error.
Urawa Red’s dominated 1st half by their speed of passes, strong pressing and decisions of play, and that continued into 2nd half. At 52 minutes, Cerezo’s Hotaru Yamaguchi’s pass was intercepted by Takuya Aoki, Aoki made run and produced a through pass to Rafael da Silva who struck another goal calmly at 1 v 1 situation against Cerezo’s goal keeper.
Cerezo lost decisive 3rd goal but didn’t give up. At 59 minutes, Kenyu Sugumoto acquired Corner-kick that was taken by Souza, and Matej Jonjic’s header earned a goal back. The 1st goal of the team for this season made the away team supporters loud, then Yoon Jung-Hwan sent Shohei Kiyohara to the pitch 1st time for J1 game, also at 73 minutes Kazuya Yamamura substituted for Maruyama. Yamamura paired up with Sugimoto and formed kind of ‘2 top’ formation, and Yoichiro Kakitani positioned at left side. From this point Cerezo started pressing at early point and put pressure on Urawa Red’s who started showing tiredness of playing at 5th game of 5 consecutive matches. At 80 minutes, Yamamura narrowly missed a goal by his header to the cross from Kakitani, and at 87 minutes, Kakitani struck volley to Kiyohara’s shoot like cross. Unfortunately they couldn’t get 2nd goal but their play at the end showed us positive possibility to the future.
Since the new beginning, at their friendly games and the opening game Cerezo Osaka didn’t lose too many points nor defeated until now, but made an utter defeat by Urawa Red’s who was last season’s highest winning point earner. Cerezo was initiated for J1 by Urawa’s not only power of institution but also their ability of quick decision and strength for ball handling. After the game, Yoon told players off by saying “There was nothing we did right for both defence and offence”, however thinking about length of the team’s development time, this result may have to be put up. It up to them if they learnt from this game and can improve in the coming game, and that will make Cerezo’s fate of this season.