Omiya Ardija return to J1 action on Saturday with a tough home game against Shimizu S-Pulse, after missing out on the midweek round of fixtures due to Gamba Osaka's Asian Champions League involvement. After three wins and clean sheets in their opening three games, S-Pulse went down to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of JEF United on Tuesday and will be looking to dangerous Korean striker Cho Jae-Jin to get back on target. Squirrels coach Toshiya Miura showed videos of Saturday's opponents during training, which has concentrated on keeping possession and developing attacking strategy as well as tweaking the all-important set pieces that have been so successful for Ardija thus far.
Encouragingly, the injury-hit duo of Chikara Fujimoto and Kota Yoshihara have both been joining in with the practice sessions and there was enough to suggest that the return of playmaker Fujimoto and the full debut of former Gamba Osaka star Yoshihara may not be too far away. "I'm not getting much pain in the joint now," said Fujimoto, whom most Squirrels fans will be desperate to see back in the team after having picked up a single point in the two matches from which he has been absent. In contrast, after a tentative first half, an Omiya team including Chikara on one flank and Daigo Kobayashi on the other swamped JEF United.
Tsuchiya and Toninho put their left legs in
"I watched the Niigata game from the stands," said the talismanic Fujimoto, "and the problem seemed to be keeping the ball as individuals. We have to try and seize the initiative against Shimizu and keep looking for opportunities." Yoshihara, meanwhile, is not yet in a position to be able to complete a full ninety minutes, but his condition is nevertheless improving all the time, having picked up a back injury in pre-season. "I'm feeling good now and am very keen to show Omiya fans what I can do. We need the forwards to start scoring goals and that will help the team as a whole to become more together and more confident."
"It's been a bit of a mixed start to the season," said Toshiya Miura, "but we've got to to take the positives into the next couple of weeks, which are very busy for us. S-Pulse have started well, they've got a particularly good defence and are a young team, getting stronger all the time. They've got lots of energy and a promising future. But the atmosphere among our players is good and we think we can win the match."
Skipper Seiichiro Okuno commented, "Looking back at the Niigata match, we're not satisfied with the result or the content of the game. We can begin to improve by concentrating on starting matches much better and on eliminating unnecessary mistakes from our play. That's what cost us against Niigata. S-Pulse are well-organised and a good counter-attacking team, they've got some pace in the side - we need to concentrate and first of all aim to get to half-time with a clean sheet. Obviously at the same time we want to maximise our chances and keep going our good performances so far from set pieces."
I saw this happening a couple of days ago......he was the "one to watch" in my preview. It's starting to p!$$ me off that there is a group of former strikers in the J league who are magically starting to be successful in other places......BA**, Satoshi goal, and now Leandro. I blame Miura...........one case would be a fluke, two cases a coincidence but 3 maybe? He sticks with the midfield no matter what but forwards get tossed like nobodys business.