Manager's CommentsHALF TIME
・The players in the front line have to continue pressing back
・Let’s build up our game at a faster rate
・We should use the whole width of the field to shake up our opponent
"We performed extremely well in today’s game at this wonderful stadium, and our supporters did a great job in making this our game. The squad worked hard till the very end and fought through this tough game. However, it must be admitted that we conceded a goal when we shouldn’t have. It came at a moment when we were continuously stealing the ball from our opponents and launching counterattacks that could have given us extra goals. To concede at a moment like that was embittering. That said, our players fought to the very end. I would like to add that Sapporo, the supporters included, played a very good game. Today I could see from the whole stadium that we would be able to play our best game of football."
Players' Comments■ Keiji Tamada
“(Did you feel that giving starting for your team for the first time in a long time gave your side a good flow?) Well, yes, but we really wanted to win. I wanted results. There were also moments where I could have scored. I got the impression that we weren’t form a good defence or offence. I think everyone else had painted the same picture…. We really have to bring out our form when we play. Being promoted [to the J1 League] requires us to win back-to-back matches, and at the moment we are unable to play a steady game. I believe we have the ability to get out of the J2 league if we all click. There are games we can win, although the J2 League isn’t that easy.
(Now that you have finished playing your 16th game, do you feel your football is a bit rushed?) Honestly, in my head I’m telling myself to ‘keep my head up’ and to ‘keep playing’. However, it’s easy to talk and say things to yourself – finding a way to put your words into practice is what is most important.”
■ Hotaru Yamaguchi
“I believe we created more chances this game than our opponent’s did, as Sapporo did not have that many critical chances to score. Though they put in a number of crosses, those were the only times I felt threatened by our opponents; that made me feel as if we had found a way to improve.
(How do you feel about the way in which Sapporo caught up with you when they brought the game to a draw after you were in the lead?) Toward the end of the game, both sides were vying for points – so, we were both going for counterattacks. Within those moments, chances to put an even bigger lead between us presented themselves to us. However, I think we need to see the one point we got from our draw in a positive light. It’s important that we build up our points, even if we are only awarded one point.”
■ Tatsuya Yamashita
“Our opponents had vitality to them, and the game was played in a unique atmosphere. I believe that we did well for enduring that game. Though the last few minutes of the game were extremely taxing, we managed to keep the game from going in the wrong direction.
(During the match, the Sapporo supporters would boo you whilst you had possession of the ball. Why was that?) I tried not to let it get to me. However, being booed by a crowd like that can be seen as a good thing. The stadium had a great vibe to it, and nobody was quite sure about what might happen – that’s something I felt quite strongly.”
■ Yuta Someya
“( Toward the end of the game, the match became harder and harder for the defenders. What are your thoughts on that?) As a defender I am expected to defend our goal. So, I believed that defending in the way that we did would have led to a chance on the other side of the pitch. I played without rushing myself, making sure to be mindful of my surroundings.
(Have you had any experience playing as a right side-back?) I played side-back during my professional debut. And though it has been a while since I played in this position, I did not go up the field to play, but focused on clearing the ball when I could, and defending the our half of the pitch to the best of my ability.
(How do you view the 1-1 result?) If things had been as they were up to this point, we would have conceded another goal and lost the game. Of course, though, I wanted us to win and secure three points. However, in my opinion we did not lose out on two points, we gained a point.
(During the first goal, we thought you were the scorer. However, that wasn’t the case, was it?) I also thought I had scored. However, the goal was recorded as an own goal, which can’t be helped.”
■ Kim Jin-Hyeon
“(How did you feel about Gu Sung-Yun?) That guy hasn’t changed a bit – he’s massive (laughs).
(With a score of 1-1, there were no winners or losers in this game. Looking back, how did you feel about the game?) I think we did a great job defending. However, we have to look at why we conceded a goal. We have to pass the ball a bit more responsibly, as there were some moments where we weren’t in control. We out ourselves at risk of a counterattack when we make mistakes and the ball is taken from us in a negative way. However, as there were games where we should have drawn instead of lost, even just a single point is extremely important. At the moment we’re facing some tough times. However, if we want to win, we will, eventually, be able to win one match after the other.”
■ Teruyuki Moniwa
(When you went into the game, the team was playing three players back.) No, Some (Yuta Someya) was playing side-back on the right. However, it might have seemed like that, as I had told him ‘not to go up too much’.
(What instructions were you given by the manager?) Our opponents were putting in their crosses from behind Shake (Noriyuki Sakemoto). As we were aiming for Tokura, we played Some on right, and tried to extinguish our opponent’s strong point. As Shake was our instigator – and our backbone – we wanted to take care of our opponent’s strength, as it was clear what they were trying to do.
(How do you feel about the 1-1 result?) I see it as a positive. Naturally, we’re upset, as we wanted to win the game. However, most of our previous matches had involved us rushing in to attack and then losing on a counterattack. We have moved past those days. After the end of the game, we all talked as a squad. We agreed that we weren’t going to become stronger in a day and a night. By winning these matches, and ending our games in a draw, we’re managing to bring confidence and growth to our game.”
PostscriptThe 16th sec. of the Meiji Yasuda Life J2 League. Despite other games being held on the 31st May, this evening game, held on the 1st June, gathered 18,044 spectators for a match between Consadole Sapporo and Cerezo Osaka – a heated game where both teams strove to the very end for a victory.
The opening minutes of the game saw and advance and retreat, as the teams both played in a striking and defending position. The first team to seize the pace of the game was Cerezo. In the 10th minute, a one-two between Keiji Tamada – starting for the first time since the 9th sec. against Sanuki – and Kusukami threatened the Sapporo goal with a header. However, in the 15th minute, a cross from Fukumori to Ken Tokura brought the opposition closer to the Cerezo goal. The two teams found themselves in a gridlock after the latter half of the first half, with the game progressing by a number a set plays. In the 39th minute, Yuta Someya connected with a corner kick by Forlan for a near goal, which ended up being headed by a member of the Sapporo side, against the goal keeper’s leg, and into the goal for an own goal – giving Cerezo the lead.
In the second half, a lagging Sapporo came out guns blazing. Following manager Barbarić’s orders to the dot, the Sapporo side “aimed more and more for the opponent’s rear,” concentrating mainly on Cerezo’s right side. Then in the 50th minute, a pass from Junichi Inamoto to Hiroyuki Mae allowed the latter to cut into the centre of the pitch from the left hand side for an excellent shot, which deflected off the body of Yamashita, who had been booed by the Sapporo supporters throughout the game, before finding its way into the back of the net. This came as a joyful first goal for Mae, who scored for the first time in his professional career. After the game, he was caught saying, “during halftime Shinji Ono told me to ‘go deeper into the centre of the field to shoot the ball’, and his advice allowed me to put everything I could behind my shot.” It appears that Ono, who spent the game on the sidelines for the first time this season, gave Mae just the right kind of advice. Another big chance for the Sapporo team reared its head a minute after the goal was scored. With some aggressive dribbling, Tokura fired off a cracker of a shot, which Yamashita only managed to block with some serious effort. Without delay, Cerezo manager Paulo Autuori made his move by replacing Sakemoto with Moniwa in the 64th minute. He moved Someya to the position of right side-back, and took further steps to improve his team’s performance on the pitch. This caused the game to return to its earlier ‘advance and retreat’ tactics, which Yamaguchi interpreted as “both sides […] vying for points – so, we were both going for counterattacks.” In the 65th and 69th minute, Cerezo broke through the centre of the field with the help of Tamada – coming only a hair’s breadth away from scoring. Sapporo also showed resilience right to the very end, when they chanced to pick up some loose balls in the hopes of turning the tables on the Cerezo side. However, it was not meant to be. Cerezo’s concentrated its defences, preventing the Sapporo squad from penetrating the team’s fortifications.
As a result, the game ended with a 1-1 draw. Both teams took away one point, and the matches that had accumulated over May came to an end. For a Cerezo that wanted to strike back with force, the draw comes as a painful outcome. However, their ability to counter a formidable Sapporo side that had the backing of thousands of cheering crowds at home, and the upright heartiness shown by the defence in earning the team its point, makes one hope that this time the Osaka side will make the most of this outcome when going into their next match. On the other hand, manager Barbarić’s reflections on the game as one in which “we were shown a high-paced and dynamic match,” takes Sapporo into 6th place, a spot previously occupied by Avispa Fukuoka. The side now has higher hopes for its future games.
Lastly, we must recognise the fact that today’s game involved six World Cup players (including those on the benches), making it a lavish match in which the goal keepers (Kim Jin-Hyeon and Gu Sung-Yun) on both sides were able to face off and show each other their worth. In the 69th minute, a brilliant save by Kim Jin-Hyeon, who had put his body on the line during a cross from Sapporo, was followed by a great save by Gu Sung-Yun, who managed to catch a vigorous shot by Forlan. These saves sent the crowds wild. After the match came to a conclusion, the two players were seen having a conversation in the mixed zone, which showed signs of their returning to their ‘big brother, little brother’ relationship. Gu Sung-Yun, who received a great boost to his career this season in Northern Japan, vowed to pursue his career even further, saying: “I was extremely happy to hear voices from the Cerezo stands calling out my name. I’m going to take their support and make sure I work toward becoming an even greater player.”