The Squirrels' practice match against Gamba Osaka on Monday provided the first real opportunity for the new players to get to grips with Omiya Ardija's style, in particular in relation to defensive organisation and the discipline of the pressing game. As Daigo Kobayashi commented, "Until you play games, you don't really have the chance to understand how these things work, so this type of match helps to make the mental connections."
Tatsunori Hisanaga, on the losing side v Gamba Osaka
Toshiya Miura acknowledged that the players had been worked extra-hard in this particular pre-season. "I think we coped well with the fatigue - the training has been tough and this match was another good work-out for the players." But the priority is still to help players such as Kobayashi become accustomed to the Squirrels' way of doing things. "Regular matches such as the ones we have lined up over the next few days will mean that the new guys have the chance to contribute as squad members to the same level as the players we already have," said Miura. The next practice game is scheduled for Thursday 9th against Albirex Niigata.