The things I would like to talk about, well, first of all, as we’ve entered to the new year, “Happy new year!” (ha ha). Today, just by looking at the result, I am so happy, and our players spent the year with full of unexpected things happened to them. It wasn’t easy, to start from the (J1 promotion) playoff in J2, to the (J1) promotion, then reached to these results. It wasn’t easy at all that we’ve become the champion of both the 2 Cups and reached at the 3rd on the league table. It’s not done by just one person, but resulted by many people, all the players, all the staff, and everyone who involved in Cerezo, all of us worked hard together. It would be very great if we can reach to the such result in 2018 too, but this is something I cannot promise. I was expecting that today’s game would be very tough, and it was actually tougher than I expected. This is the outcome of our players who’s been running throughout the whole year of 2017. I am so thankful to the lads. And I would like to send a thank you message to these players. I am very emotional to win the Emperor’s Cup that I couldn’t experience when I was a player but now I did as a manager, so I am so happy right now.
■ Kota Mizunuma
Q: What is your thought by looking back this season as a new comer to Cerezo?
“As I had an injury and also concerned about the year before, I was under pressure to deliver results at the beginning and tried too hard, and that resulted another injury, I think I was too rushed. However, by having those 2 injuries made me broke through the pressure and gave me some room in my mind to relax, and while I’m away the teammates kept winning, so the things were becoming good slowly but surely.”
Q: How do you feel that you concluded the season with the goal by yourself?
“It was lucky (ha ha). I was very lucky for that.”
Concluded with 2 Cup victories including the first ever Emperor’s Cup title, Cerezo fought through the tough match with their full strength that symbolised their 2017 season!
According to Matej Jonjic, “We didn’t have good start.” From start of the game, Cerezo were struggled by attacks from Yokohama F Marinos with midfielder Martinus’s fast moves and a forward Sho Ito’s skilful positioning. However, in the early time, Hiroshi Kiyotake managed to have a chance to score conjunction with the play from Yoichiro Kakitani who were back as a starting member and the captain of the day, but in 8th minute, they gave the opening goal away. When opponent made a cross to left, defender Yasuki Kimoto was shaken off by Ito, and Ito scored.
Cerezo had to have the start from behind again, as the last game against Yokohama FM at the 32nd round match of J1. Cerezo still struggled in the 1st half and beginning of the 2nd half by Yokohama FM’s systematic defence led by Yuji Nakazawa and swift attacks by speedy Martinus, and their endurance time continued. However, they kept themselves standing firm, and denied further loss of the goal.
As they plotted the amendment at halftime, caught up to the tie came in 65th minute. Prior to this goal, the pink warriors strengthen their pressure towards front. Then Kota Mizunuma dodged defence and stroke an intense shoot from midrange that hit an opponent defender, and the ball reached to the foot of Kazuya Yamamura. “I knew I was free as soon as I received the ball, so I was thinking to kick it inside the goal frames to score.” as the number 24 said later, he struck it strong and calmly with his right foot. The top fighter who led the team at the front of battlefield under the manager Yoon Jung-Hwan, shook the goal net with the shot, and revived the team.
After the reset of the game, the manager Yoon also shuffled his cards by judging situation calmly. In 77th minute he sent Yusuke Tanaka to strengthen defence at sides, and in 80th minute, sent Ricardo Santos to activate at front. The team started showing the ‘running through’ spirit that they’ve built up over this season’s matches, and the players like Hotaru Yamaguchi who is the pivot of centre, recovered from injury and joined as a starting member today, and also Mizunuma, they all never stopped their feet in the 2nd half, and no sign of slowing down on their power.
The match extended into the extra time that was the 3rd time for Cerezo in this tournament, the team made a circle, lifted their spirit up, and in 5 minute entering into the 1st half of the extra time, they made the move. Yamamura came out to left side, received the ball and made a cross. And it was Mizunuma, one of the players who represent “Yoon Cerezo” who flew in from outside. His header with his soul made the ball sucked into the goal, and Cerezo succeeded to come from behind.
Immediately after that, Yamamura went back down to the bottom line and Cerezo made 5 back formation that we saw quite a few times in this season to strengthen their defence, and aimed an additional goal by counterattack. Though they received fierce attack by the opponent in the 2nd half of the extra time, as “We experienced such situations so many times in this season, we risked everything we had and did our best we could do” to defend well, a substitute Daichi Akiyama said. The goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon made a great save too, and Cerezo denied to losing another goal with devoted and persevering defence until the end.
Then, the fulltime whistle was blown, and the pink warriors who fought through the tough match expressed their delight with shouts of triumph. They made a circle of delight on the pitch.