Fujimoto Out For 2 Months As Omiya Begin Friendlies
The Squirrels played two seventy-minute practice matches against J1 rivals FC Tokyo on 30th June - both games ending in defeat for Toshiya Miura's players, as they continue their preparations for the recommencement of the league season on 19th July. A reserve team was beaten 4-2, but a stronger Omiya XI went down 1-0 to a penalty in the 31st minute of their match, during which Ardija were able to attack only on the counter and through set pieces during the first half. After the interval, they came more into the play but couldn't pull level and indeed the number of times that the ball actually came through to the front players was small.
Yosuke Kataoka gets in a challenge against FC Tokyo
"We had some chances to score, but didn't take them," said Miura, "so I'm dissatisfied. We're looking to improve the support that we give to the strikers, and I'm looking to players like Tatsunori Hisanaga to do that more effectively." Squirrels fans will nevertheless still be concerned at the apparent lack of firepower, given the club's reluctance or inability to make further signings and the likelihood that instead Gral will be offered an extension of his loan deal until the end of the season. Gral himself, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi, Naoto Sakurai and Yasuhiro Hato all sat the games out through injury, with the further disastrous news that Chikara Fujimoto picked up a knee ligament injury and is likely to be sidelined for two months as a consequence.
"Even though we conceded that penalty, I think we all felt pretty secure during the 1-0 game," commented key defender Yukio Tsuchiya afterwards. "We've been practicing again for three weeks now, so as you'd imagine we're feeling pretty tired after such a good workout. But our condition is good and we've put in a lot of work. We're looking forward to going on the camp and then to getting on with the season in the middle of the month."