It's All Perfectly Clear, Apart From Team Selection & Tactics - Kofu Preview
Two fighting performances have brought much-needed away victories to Omiya Ardija in the last week - and if it needed emphasising further, Daigo Kobayashi underlined his value to the Squirrels so far this season with one more goal and an astonishing three assists. It was a tenacious display that took Ardija past a young Nagoya side in the midweek Nabisco Cup tie, Toshiya Miura’s men coping well with the early dismissal of Daisuke Tomita and then going a goal behind.
But with the attention of fans now turning to the clash with J1 newcomers Ventforet Kofu, Tomita’s red card will most likely see a return to the starting XI for Seiichiro Okuno. The club skipper is nevertheless evidently felt to be of less significance to the team than his regular partner Toninho, whose own recent form has been on the underwhelming side - and indeed there are arguments in favour of the pacier Yukio Tsuchiya occupying a position in the middle of defence, in order to cope with the considerable threat posed by Kofu’s number one weapon. For Bare will presumably be desperate to get on the scoresheet against the club that on winning promotion discarded him as being not of J1 quality.
So while there are question marks over the defensive line-up, Miura’s attacking approach to games of late continues to baffle supporters. It has to be assumed that Gral and Hiroshi Morita are the most likely candidates to begin the match, but where this leaves Kota Yoshihara is far from clear, given that the former Japanese international seems to have been banished even from the substitutes’ bench for no obvious reason.
But winning two matches is a tonic for any team, even a team with only one apparent route to goal such as the current Omiya outfit. And given that both sides realistically need to take all three points in order to stay in the 2006 Nabisco Cup, the Squirrels will surely be approaching things in a more positive frame of mind than they had after the calamity of the Hiroshima match.
“These two wins have boosted our confidence as a team a lot,” commented Daigo, “but at the same time I think we understand we’ll be doing ourselves a favour if we’re able to start games better. Kofu like to commit a lot of men forward and so we need to be aware of opportunities to set up counter attacks quickly; if our midfield are working well, we can control the game.”
Tsuchiya, another potential key man, said, “Against Nagoya, coming from behind to beat them showed the spirit we have in the side. I ended up playing in the middle of defence, but it felt fine to be in that position and didn’t cause any real problems – you have to be ready to make a contribution wherever it’s needed. Kofu are a team with a lot of spirit, but I think we can cause them difficulties by supporting our front players from the back and by making the most of our strikers’ good technical abilities. We can’t go into the game scared to lose because of our circumstances in the competition.”