It’s been such a tough journey to reach to this point today, but our players never dropped any games and won the cup. I didn’t dream that we could, but we’ve done really fantastic job. I would love to send a message to the players, ‘Thank you, and well done’.
In today’s final match, I choose players who have not been playing in Levain Cup’s games before. And they worked so hard on behalf of the players who worked and ran hard for the previous Levain Cup games. They really ran hard throughout the game until the end with their responsibility. And this victory was earned by not only the players but also the best efforts from our many supporters, managements of the club, coaching staff, and all whom involved. This is my first crown since I became a manager so I don’t know how to express, but I feel over the moon. I have a little neck-ach, I think I caught it by my bad sleeping position with too much tense (laughter in the venue). The players really worked so hard with their best they can do until the real end. I am in the happy team. But this is not the end yet, we still have Emperor’s Cup, and also we are at the third position on the league table. I would like everyone to be concentrated until the real end, and hope to finish the season without any bad injuries. I also would like to thank to you all in this venue right now.”
■ Yoichiro Kakitani
Q: Please tell us your feeling of being the cup winner?
“I wanted to fight this game together with everyone until the end, so it was frustrated game for myself. However, I’m happy that we could have the result, especially under the spotlight we had being in.”
Q: How was the view from the podium?
“I felt very strange. I wondered, the feeling of guys of Kawasaki F (Frontale)…, they have been left over there (at runner-up’s stage) for many times…, but we were here (at the winner’s stage) even though we have not even been there (at runner-up’s stage) before. However, this is the game that has winner and loser, and the winner always celebrate. But I still don’t think we became the strongest team, so we must work hard to be able to continue to have the game like today. However I am so happy to be able to be in this team at this moment of having this title.”
The first ever title in history of the club! The new page of the history book has been written here.
Receiving the beautiful choreographies made by supporters from both teams, players of the two teams were marching into the pitch with anthem of Levain Cup. What are going to happen in the match? The match with anticipation and anxiety began, and suddenly had a move. One minute after the kick-off, Eduardo, the Kawasaki’s defender missed to clear the ball that Yoichiro Kakitani headed to a slow-in made by Yusuke Maruhashi. The ball was effortlessly caught by Kenyu Sugimoto, and that made 1 vs 1 situation against Kawasaki’s goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong. That was the great chance, and at the moment of Sugimoto shoot the ball into the net cool and calmly, the huge cheers, like rumbling of the earth, came out from Cerezo’s supporters’ seats that was behind goal of usually Urawa Reds’ home goal.
This lightening goal by Sugimoto made the game structure as Kawasaki possess ball and attack, and Cerezo created the defence block and aim the counterattack. After the opening goal, Cerezo spent lots of time for defending, however the defenders acted with good concentration, didn’t allow Kawasaki to score, and ended the 1st half with a clean sheet.
Kawasaki started the 2nd half with one substitution. The game progressed as the similar style like the 1st half. Though Cerezo got shoots by Yu Kobayashi at 49th and 56th minute, they didn’t allow to make it decisive. And at 61st minute, Cerezo made counterattack. Kakitani made a shoot to the pass Kota Mizunuma made to behind a defender, but it was saved by goalkeeper. Cerezo kept their systematic and firm defence as they did in the 1st half. Then it was Toru Oniki, the manager of Kawasaki F who made a move. He sent forwarder Kei Chinen as a substitute to Elsinho at right hand side-back. Then he moved Tatsuya Hasegawa to the right hand side-back, and made it 2 tops formation with Chinen and Kobayashi at top. After this Kawasaki’s shift change to power-play, Cerezo’s Yoon Jung-Hwan also made a substitute at 84th minute, sent Kazuya Yamamura in for Yoichiro Kakitani. Yamamura joined in the defence line, made it as 3 backs, and that made their defence at the middle became stronger.
The time was ticking to Cerezo for their first ever Coronation, and it was at 92nd minute. Cerezo had their much-wanted decisive an additional goal. While Kawasaki put many players at top, Cerezo caught them off their guard, and Riku Maeda made a long feed to Hiroshi Kiyotake at front. Kiyotake received the pass with perfect skill and passed the ball to Mizunuma who came running from behind. Then Mizunuma passed the ball to Souza who was unmarked just outside of the penalty area, then Souza turned goalkeeper Jung Sung Ryong away and scored a goal by a shoot to the spot that Kawasaki’s defender could not even reach. The behind of Cerezo’s goal became full of rejoicing. All the players and staff ran out of Cerezo’s bench, and blessed Souza. This goal pushed the expectation of the victory high up. Then… The final whistle of the chief referee Yuichi Nishimura was browed, and, at last, at that moment, Cerezo crowned the title at the first time in the club’s history. The thought by the team, the players and the supporters was exploded.