We had so many people there and they created a fantastic atmosphere. Our players were well prepared and stepped onto the pitch, however we are sorry for failing to meet the expectation of many of our supporters. Our desire to win was so strong, the players tried and ran very hard, but I think I made late decisions. I had to manage my players’ physical strength but I failed it, and that was the cause of today’s defeat, I think. There was a very high expectation for the Derby, and that made the match very important. We’ve been prepared well but couldn’t express it on the pitch. We must reflect on ourselves, this is not the end yet but there are more games to come. So it is important to fix the mistakes we made today and face the next match.
■ Hotaru Yamaguchi
“If we could execute the chances we should of executed, and if we could score the 2nd, it might of changed whole game. Gamba (Osaka) scored one, then scored the 2nd soon after, and that was the different to today’s Cerezo, I think.”
Q: It looked Cerezo played rather superiorly, don’t you think?
“Until we lost Gamba’s 1st goal, we were in charge. We had chances to score our 2nd but failed, and allowed the opponent to score a goal to make draw, it was a huge impact. The opponent seemed to gain momentum by that.”
Q: It was the 3rd defeat in this season. Shouldn’t you review yourself objectively, at this point when the team who’s been winning made defeat, and do something for the future games?
“Yes, and also, we should make sure to win the next game and not have successive losses, then I want the team to start to win consecutively again.”
The Osaka Derby, the 34th game of J1 league, and the first time in their history, it was held at the exclusive soccer stadium. The excitement created by the both team’s supporters were steaming, the stage was ‘ready’.
The 1st half started as a very close game. Though they didn’t score, Cerezo Osaka succeeded to establish a starting point from left side, and created attacking style from flow. Also defence side, as Yasuki Kimoto who joined to the centre-back instead of Tatsuya Yamashita who had some minor injury said later ‘In the 1st half, though opponent forwarders made run through our back few times, we were holding on’, Cerezo kept their formation, and didn’t give a chance to Hwang Ui Jo of Gamba to do his work.
After the 1st half that was controlled by Cerezo, at the beginning of the 2nd half, the game made a move. At 51st minute, Kazuya Yamamura won the ball that was fed by Kim JinHyeon’s kick, and his header was picked by Kenyu Sugimoto who dribbled through behind Gamba’s defender, and made a shot. The ball avoided Hiroki Fujiharu’s defence as well as the goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi’s save, and brought the delight to the supporters behind the away goal. This Sugimoto’s 4th consecutive games goal made the game to Cerezo’s pace completely. At the 61st minute, Cerezo made passes at left side, and fed the ball to Hotaru Yamaguchi who was free at the middle to the goal. He could of shot but made a pass instead. It was a clear pass to Yamamura however unfortunately he was off-side. They had another chance just minutes after that at 64th minute. Sugimoto opened up the ball from deep left side, Yoichiro Kakitani and Yusuke Maruhashi delivered it to Yamaguchi at the centre and linked it to Kota Mizunuma at right side. Then Mizunuma made a pin-point cross to Sugimoto who made a header but it hit the post.
Just after this event, at the 65th minute, Cerezo was caught up and made to draw by Gamba by Hwang Ui Jo’s header to Fujiharu’s cross. The excitement rose upon the stadium and Gamba attacked fiercely, but Cerezo held on, and had another big chance at 73rd minute. A shoot-like sharp cross made by Kunimitsu Sekiguchi who joined in as a substitute to Mizunuma at 71st minute, was mis-handled by Gamba’s goalkeeper Higashiguchi, and Yamamura took the chance, but the shoot was out of the target. Then 4 minutes later, at 77th minute. Gamba managed to score a goal by Genta Miura from a corner-kick, then at 86th minute, they scored the 3rd and the decisive goal from counter attack. The Osaka Derby that was held at Suita City Football Stadium’s with the record number of spectators of 36,177, Cerezo made come-from-behind defeat by 1-3.
Cerezo “couldn’t execute when we should, but the opponent made it at the chances they had. That made the difference”, as Yamamura looked back after the match, it was a bitter defeat. Not only Yamamura but also Sugimoto blamed himself, “if I or Kazuya (Yamamura) executed at the chances we had, it would of decided the game differently. I must reflect, and we talked about it after the game.” However, on the other hand “We cannot change the past and it’s not coming back. We (I and Yamamura) had a positive talk like ‘at next, we will score and defeat Sapporo for sure’, so I don’t want to drag today’s defeat down with me but want to pay it back at the next game.” with his head high.