Omiya Ardija emerged undefeated from a hard day on Thursday, taking on J1 rivals Albirex Niigata in practice games in both the early morning and late afternoon. The morning match saw the Squirrels trailing 1-0 at half-time but level things up in the second period, while in the afternoon a single first-half goal was enough to win the game for Toshiya Miura's side. The hard physical work in this pre-season made the players' movement on the heavy side, but the level of understanding between the members of the squad is nevertheless felt to be improving every day.
Jun Marques Davidson has been especially noticeable in his efforts to blend the team together in the pitch with his constant encouragement and communication. "I could see that everyone was feeling a bit tired, but the commitment and effort was good from all the players," said Miura afterwards. The key, however, remains developing the understanding that the new squad members have of in particular the Omiya defensive organisation and tactical approach - something which occurs not only on the training pitch but also by discussing and watching match videos after dinner in the evening.
Saul Martinez in action vs Niigata
"My physical condition has really improved quickly on this camp," commented new first team squad defender Haruki Nishimura, promoted from the Youth team set-up during the close-season break. "We're also getting better at communication and just generally learning more about how things are done in this environment, which is obviously new for me. Today I took part in a practice game for the first time and so I'm feeling pretty sluggish now. It was a bit of an aerial battle with Albirex at times, but the defence was also looking to pass the ball forward and improve our linking-up play. I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from my team-mates."