Match Report: Cerezo Osaka vs Fagiano Okayama

Manager's Comments

“We had an excellent game. However, we had trouble with the scoreboard to the very end of the match. Normally, we would have won with a higher number of goals.
Despite the circumstances, I would like to praise our players for playing a tough game until the blow of the last whistle.
That said, I have mixed emotions: on one hand I’m happy that we won. On the other hand, our goalkeeper Kim Jin-Hyeon unfortunately got injured.”

Q: How did you feel about winning a game where the team found it hard to make a comeback?
“What we are creating at the moment involves a long process and requires faith. We’re building a team on a set of principles, and within that process you find – in the footballing world – that it is challenging to create a strong team. So, for that reason I would like to praise the squad for leading the side to a comeback victory. However, this is the second game in a row in which we conceded a goal in the early stages of the match. We could have also scored at least one more goal during the game. These issues need to be looked at. In the game of football there are always things to learn, regardless of whether you win or lose. I would like to continue creating a team based on my principles by repeatedly correcting our football for the better.”

Q: You team played a large number of long balls, even during free kicks. Was this something the side did because of the conditions on the pitch?
“That was the case with the start of the game. However, as the condition on the pitch improved, our players were able to steal the ball more often in midfield, which made for a good game.
The important things in football are circumstance, pitch condition, and the way the opposition plays. It is essential that you play with these in mind.
As I said before, you cannot speak about things solely in terms of wins and losses.
Looking to the future of Cerezo, my job is to create unshakeable foundations, and to ask whether our principles and beliefs hold up in the team. I am creating our team with the world stage in mind, and am currently in the midst of building the foundations of the team with the players, day by day.”

Players' Comments

■ Yuzo Tashiro
“Once again we started the game poorly and conceded a goal. However, everyone regained their calm thanks to the goal I scored shortly afterward.
(Q: Did you anticipate the goalkeeper dropping the ball?) I expected the keeper to lose control of the ball, since the ball that was played was a quick one. For the first few moments I wondered whether I should kick to the right or the left. I made out a gap in the left, and so roughly aimed it to the left, and the ball went straight past him. I thought Iwamasa would come for the assist. However, there was a chance that we would overlap, and when we did overlap Tama-san (Tamada) appeared. So, I gently passed the ball to Tama-san and it made its way to a good spot on the pitch. Tama-san is a fast player, and I think we should work more on building our joined efforts on the pitch. As with the goals that were called offside, I want the team to increase the number of quick goals. Shake (Sakemoto) had told me that he plays those sorts of balls on rainy days, and he was right on target. Scoring on a fumble is one of the things we as strikers do. Increasing the number of goals I score that way allows me to play at my pace. I would like to see more goals of that kind in the future.
(Q: It seems like both you and the other striker have your positions on the field figured out.) We’re slowly getting there. I think we could do a slightly neater job balancing the field. However, that will come with time.
(Q: Did being paired with Iwamasa make you overly conscious?) Iwamasa is a powerful player. So, it would be a lie if I told you it hadn’t. However, with that in mind, I was able to score and we were able to win the game. This was the first time I managed to score on my birthday! Our next game is the most important game of all. I really believe we can catch up with the rest of the teams if we win the next game, which is why I am going to go into that game as if it were the finals.”

■ Hideo Hashimoto
“(Q: Are you glad that you were able to produce results after the loss in your last game?) Yes, I am. However, it may have been just that – a result. In the first half our opponents were self-destructive, and we have become better at taking advantage of such crucial opportunities. The one disappointment was the fact that we started the game just as we had during our game against Kyoto. Our left side broke down frequently, and for the longest time we were unable to fix that. That is one reason why we have to work on fixing our football in the first half.
(Do you think the team will have a difficult time if you do the same thing against Jubilo?) It will make things really hard on us. Apparently they lost, up until now they have been a team that is fully capable of defending their goal. I think they will fix any shortcomings by the next game. In the second half we set the pace and created our own time on the pitch. Being unable to score extra goals in such a situation gave our opponents the chance to put pressure on us and occasionally create chances for themselves.”

■ Yuta Someya
“It’s horrible how we conceded early in the game. That said, I was glad that our strikers were able to score afterward.
We played well in defence in the second half. However, we are still giving our opponents chances to score, and the game would have been much better for us had we stopped giving the other side any chances. That is something we have to take into our upcoming games.
Since we have a game coming up soon, we have to make sure that we are properly prepared for the next one. And since Jubilo lost today, I am sure they will strike hard in their game against us. As for us, we know that painful events come about if we stay on the receiving end, like we did in our game against Kyoto the other day, and in the first half of this match. We have to focus on our game from now on.
Jin-Hyeon’s injury disadvantages our team, and with Tanno coming in to replace him during the match, I noticed that he was able to keep things under control. As the competition in the team itself is rather fierce, we have to constantly talk to each other and help one another [like we did today] where possible.”

■ Hotaru Yamaguchi
“The most important thing about any game is the result you produce. We were able to produce a result, and that was the best thing about today’s game.
It made a difference that we were able to tie the game immediately after we conceded. We were unable to create anything in our last game, and though Pablo was unable to play we created plenty of ‘close calls’. It would have been great if we had ended with three or four goals. However, it still is important that we won out in this game.
Our counterattacks worked as well as we had expected, as the team we played were vulnerable against counterattacks. However, our accuracy toward the end was poor and we bounced the ball off of our opponents. We did create a number of critical chances. We would have had more goals if we had scored during those moments.
(Q: After the game, the manager mentioned that Jin-Hyeon had fractured his collar bone…) Though we had relied on Jin-Hyeon to rescue the team since the beginning, Tanno played fantastically in his place. When he fractured his collarbone in that scene, he went into that play bravely. I have to give him credit for his bravery he displayed.”

■ Kenta Tanno
“(Q: You were suddenly summoned to replace Kim Jin-Hyeon when he suffered an injury. You managed to play a calm and collected game. How did you do it?)
I’m always prepared [to step in for Kim], and even during practice sessions I play as if I’m training for the game whenever I think there’s a possibility of me playing. This year I have played in a number of games, and have managed to keep my cool in these matches.
(Q: The pitch condition wasn’t ideal, as it had been raining, and there were puddles on the pitch. Was it difficult to enter a game in those sorts of conditions?)
I tried to go into the game without overcomplicating things. Jin-Hyeon’s injury came as a result of a mistake made by our side. So, the only thing I made sure of was that such a mistake did not recur.
(Q: At the manager’s conference it was announced that Jin-Hyeon had fractured his collar bone and had been taken to hospital. Did you feel a stronger urge to play your best today, considering you might be called upon to continue defending the team’s goal for the rest of the season?)
The coming games are what will really put the team to the test, and losing Jin-Hyeon, I’m sure, is a tough loss for the squad. However, to that end, Take (Hiroyuki Takeda) and I are determined to defend the team goal, and start our next game against Jubilo (Iwata) with the hope that we eventually make it into the top two.”

■ Kunimitsu Sekiguchi
“I think I had more work to do, as I was unable to connect with the ball well.
(Q: Do you want your first goal as soon as possible?) There’s no point in scoring when the team ends up losing. The most important thing is that the team wins, and if we can do that and I don’t score, but contribute otherwise, then I am happy with that. It’s not the case that the best players are the players that score. In order to win, a squad must be able to function as a team. Though I had the chance to score, and I could have stepped in and scored, it’s on me to follow through.
Since we won today, I would like to begin preparing for our next match.”

■ Noriyuki Sakemoto
“Everyone talked about making a good start to the game. However, the opposition ripped into our side (when we conceded a goal) and we could have done a better job meeting them in the penalty box. As for the cross [that gave us the equaliser], I could see that someone was in the striking area. So, I decided to play the ball into the area where the keeper and defenders were, as I thought it would be the best approach under these conditions. I tried to be aware of what was going on when I sent the ball up [and toward the goal]. Luckily, the ball landed in a good spot.
(Q: You had a strong presence in the challenges for the ball. How motivated were the players in this game?)
We can’t afford to lose a single game [from now], and if we don’t do that [play aggressively for the ball], then there is no chance of us winning. Today we were all conscious of when to play for the ball. It’s important that we continue to do so. We have to do more and more of it, if anything, otherwise we have no hope of succeeding.
(Q: In your next match against Iwata what do you think will give the team more momentum?)
That’s right. What moves us is the need to win no matter what. Even a draw would be a painful result for us. We have to put our lives on the line for this one.”

■ Keiji Tamada
“(Q: Since joining Cerezo this must have been the first time you scored a goal with your right foot.) Yes, I believe it was….. As the ground was moist [when I scored], I figured if [Tashiro’s] pass was going to land there, then no matter how fast I moved I would still receive a good ball. And the ball happened to land exactly where I had hoped it would. After that, I was confident in my ability to beat my man. If the ball had been taken away from me as this was happening, then that would have been that. However, the more natural you are when you play, the higher the chances are [of you scoring].
(Q: You conceded a goal in the opening minutes of the math. Did you see the game moving in a direction similar to that of your last game?)
Being able to take away three points in this kind of a game may have been important for the team. This is the first time this season we made a comeback win. This type of a victory really bolsters the mental aspect of our game.
(Q: Your next game against Iwata may be your biggest game this season, don’t you think?)
It is a really critical game. However, I would like to approach it as I have any other game this season. However, since we do need to win games, we need to be persistent in winning this away game. That said, we have to stop being temperamental in our games: winning today and having a bad game tomorrow is proof that the team has not matured. Anyway, we need to adjust ourselves in the best way possible when going into the next game.”

■ Daichi Akiyama
“As soon as I returned the team lost, which made me feel a bit responsible. I really wanted the team to win after I came back, and being able to do that here made me really happy. On the pitch all I had to concentrate on doing was follow up front and return to the middle of the pitch when the team needed to defend.
As there are many skilful midfielders, I have to continue practising every skill I have. And when chances come by, I have to make sure that I’m able to make the most of them.”

■ Yusuke Maruhashi
“It was a very close game, and it was my side of the field that was broken past when we conceded the goal. So, I would like to improve our plan in that regard.
After we conceded, though, we played some real Cerezo football and managed to score a goal, which I was happy about.
(Q: What about the goal you conceded?) I stopped for a moment, as it looked like it was a hand-ball. However, since it was my mistake, I want to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen in the future.
I was asked to join Kuni-kun (Kunimitsu) in the position I was placed in, and we gelled well during training. It would have been good if we could have worked together toward a goal. However, that’s something we can do more of. I would like to practise more for that.”

■ Takamitsu Yoshino
“(Q: Tell us how you feel about your first game in the starting line-up) I’m glad that I was able to win.
(Q: Did you have any difficulties playing in such pitch conditions?) The strong downpour stopped before the game, and that was a godsend. If it had rained any more, it would have been near impossible to dribble. In the conditions I played in you were just able to move around with the ball. Since we conceded a goal in the opening of the first half, our team moved the ball around high up on the field, which gave me the chance to handle the ball quite often. As we were able to score quickly, I was able to play at my pace.
(Q: Did Tashiro’s equaliser help the team relax?) It was a good goal, and it really helped.
(Q: Tell us about the ‘baby cradling’ dance you and Tamada did after he scored.)
Before the game, our physical coach Fujino’s baby was born. So, we decided that it would be a nice thing to do. We didn’t do it when Yuzo (Tashiro) scored because it was an equaliser. However, when Tama-san scored he said ‘the dance!’ So, we danced the dance together.
(Q: With your first appearance on the starting line-up, do you see yourself as having taken a new step in the league?)
First, I suffered from a big injury. When that happened a lot of people helped me, and I am extremely thankful for that. I couldn’t have made it this far without them. That was the first step. I hope to repay the various people in my life by winning more games and contributing to our team’s promotion.
(Q: You go into your next game against Iwata on a win. Is this going to be an important game for you?)
Every match is important. However, I will play as I always have. Whether I start or not, the important thing is that I do what’s require of me!”

Postscript

Cerezo come together to Fight a Tough Game. Tashiro, Tamada Score Back to Back Goals at Home for the Team’s First Comeback Win!

In the last game the team experienced its first loss in ten games, before being given three day’s respite. The home game, held at Kincho Stadium, came with little time for the team to regain its morale. Cerezo needed to continue to win in order to secure a spot for promotion in the top two places in the league – positions that automatically result in the team’s promotion. In the 25th sec. of the Meiji Yasuda Life J2 League, the team played Fagiano Okayama, turning the tables by winning 2-1 for the first time this season. With 41 points, the team was elevated to 3rd position, for the first time since the 4th sec. – a whole 21 games ago.

Pablo, the striking backbone of the side was kept out of the game due to previous cards he had received. Takahiro Ohgihara missed his second game in a row, after a concussion he had received toward the end of a game against Consadole Sapporo. Three rookies who had been promoted to the team came off the bench and into the game. Cerezo continues to play with a restricted team. Takemitsu Yoshino also made his first league appearance – his first official appearance since 2014, when he started in the first game of the quarter finals for Kawasaki Frontale (September 3) in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup Finals.

Subsequent to a loss that came from a premature goal in the beginning of the game, the team must have been wary about starting another game without being full preparation. However, with continual rains, the pitch was in an atrocious condition, with puddles forming here and there. Cerezo started on bad terms, and in the seventh minute, a momentary gap was breached, giving the opposition the lead. An Okayama throw-in on Cerezo’s left side caused all the players to halt in their tracks, and a cross in from an open spot saw Okayama forward Yuichi Kubo send the ball home with his head. Yet again the Cerezo side started the game by conceding a goal in a self-destructive way, exuding a negative air.

However, birthday boy (turning 33) and number 19 pushed aside the team’s grey clouds. In the 10th minute, Noriyuki Sakemoto sent in a cross with a swift right cross that Okayama goalkeeper Hirotsugu Nakabayashi deflected. Here, Yuzo Tashiro lay in waiting. With a direct kick with his right, he sent the ball flying to the net. This gave Cerezo their first goal and a spite of relief for the side.

A further boon came to the team with a table turning goal in the 34th minute. A free kick from the halfway line by Yusuke Maruhashi made its way to Tashiro, who passed it on to Tashiro, who said, ‘And the ball happened to land exactly where I had hoped it would’. Keiji Tamada, well experience as a striker, kept his composure in his man-on-man confrontation with the goalkeeper. He sent the ball to the back of the net with his right foot, his goofy foot. Tashiro and Tamada’s consecutive goals at home, and their ability to turn the tables during the first half, gave the team an unfounded courage.

Afterward, in the second half, the cherry blossom warriors, centered around Kunimitsu Sekiguchi and Hotaru Yamaguchi, toiled as they moved around the pitch to create favourable chances for the team. Though they did not score any extra goals, the team got excited with every challenge of the ball, with players from the bench reacted to every play. This game saw the team insistent on winning as a team. Part way through the game Kim Jin-Hyeon had an accident on the pitch in which he was injured and had to be replaced by Kenta Tanno, who calmly assumed the former’s position. Starting with defender Tatsuya Yamashita, the team put its body on the line to guard against Okyama power plays. They succeeded in defending their one goal lead, and the Cerezo supporters who came out in the rain gave the team that extra push in the right direction, and a well-needed three points and victory.

‘Being able to take away three points in this kind of a game may have been important for the team,’ said goal-scorer Tamada. Returning their posture and stealing a win is proof that the team has grown. The team, which has now come together, will want to use this win as momentum in their assault in future games. Also, the next game will be a match against 2nd place team Jubilo Iwata, who have a six point lead on them. As Tashiro states, ‘our next game is the most important game of all. I am going to go into that game as if it were the finals.’ The cherry blossom warriors seem to already have the battle set in their sights.