Omiya Ardija lost 1-0 in their opening pre-season friendly of 2007 against Korean giants Incheon United on Thursday. Coach Robert Verbeek had previously indicated that all the players in the squad would get the opportunity to play across the four practice games scheduled for the Guam camp, and as such two almost entirely different line-ups appeared for the Squirrels in each half.
The only score came as early as the third minute and in fact was an own goal following an Incheon free kick. That aside, there were many positives to be drawn from the display, with good individual performances throughout the squad. First half, Chikara Fujimoto and Hayato Hashimoto impressed as the wide men on either flank, while Daigo Kobayashi went close to grabbing an equaliser with a looping shot.
Koji Ezumi basks in the glory of a 1-0 defeat
After the break, Yusuke Shimada and Naoya Saeki made their returns in orange, but the most positive aspect of the second 45 minutes came via a lively contribution from Alison on the right-hand side of midfield and a notably good display from keeper Koji Ezumi. It is the likes of Ezumi who will surely feel most encouraged by the arrival at the club of Verbeek, given that he has the best opportunity now to replace Hiroki Aratani in the first team.
Indeed, what is clear from the camp so far is that, as well as the notion of a clean slate for all members of the squad, the different training methods employed by the Dutchman are viewed as a breath of fresh air, the players having perhaps grown stale after three years of Toshiya Miura's restrictive approach.