Saturday sees J1's Dutch coaches clash at Komaba, as Robert Verbeek's Omiya Ardija host a Nagoya Grampus 8 side coached by his compatriot Sef Vergoossen. While Verbeek is a newcomer to the J-League, Vergoossen has twelve months' experience, having taken over at the Whales after the departure under a cloud of Nelsinho - a period when the club were in some disarray.
Nagoya finished the 2005 season slumped down in fourteenth spot, below even the fledgling Squirrels, and it is ex-Genk and Roda JC boss Vergoossen who deserves much of the credit for turning his charges around. 2006 saw an improvement to a final position of seventh and this year the team have flown out of the blocks.
Admittedly, however, this series of good results has been against some of J1's weaker sides and last weekend saw a first league defeat of the season, 3-2 at home to Sanfrecce Hiroshima. And in a direct reversal of Ardija's fortunes, Nagoya are essentially out of the running in the Nabisco Cup, having picked up just one point from the four Group Stage games.
Kei Yamaguchi celebrates his opening goal for Nagoya vs Hiroshima
If Sef Vergoossen has been on balance pretty successful as an off-the-field influence on a mainly young team, the most significant addition to Grampus' playing staff is from the perhaps unlikely surrounds of the Norwegian League. Experienced striker Frode Johnsen moved from his home country's top club Rosenborg of Trondheim midway through last season and made an immediate impact in Japan, going on to score ten goals in only seventeen appearances.
But a bigger thorn in Omiya's side in 2006 was Johnsen's team-mate Keita Sugimoto, who scored a hat-trick as Nagoya ran out 4-1 away winners in what was perhaps the bleakest moment of the Squirrels' year. Given that the Whales' top league scorer so far in 2007 is Korean midfielder Kim Jung-Woo with three, it is clear that the team can get goals from several areas of the pitch.
This is not, of course, a luxury afforded to Robert Verbeek, a view borne out by the fact that his team have scored only twice in five J1 fixtures. Indeed, talking after the 1-1 Nabisco Cup draw with Yokohama F Marinos on Wednesday, the Ardija coach was visibly frustrated at the repeated failure of striker Enilton to time his runs correctly and so exploit the space left by the visitors' defence - in particular at a time when a second Squirrels goal would have effectively killed off the game.
Yoshiyuki bangs it in against the Marinos
Ahead of the match with Nagoya, therefore, Verbeek will no doubt be relieved at the return from suspension of Kota Yoshihara, whom he clearly regards as a more reliable option up front than the Brazilian. Elsewhere, the condition of Daigo Kobayashi is still unknown and Verbeek's attempts to experiment with attacking partnerships have been consistently inconsistent - none of Manabu Wakabayashi, Hiroshi Morita or new signing Salles have exactly grabbed the opportunity of a first-team slot when it has been presented to them.
But the improvement in the form of Hayato Hashimoto is a good sign for Ardija and if the left-sided midfield man can continue in the same vein on Saturday as he did against Marinos, it ought to be possible to see extra scoring chances being created. In the back four, Leandro has returned from injury and in the midweek game appeared as keen as ever to get involved - and it could be that one of his runs from the back may well provide Ardija with that additional forward momentum to crack the Grampus defence.
Will it be sixth time lucky for Verbeek against his fellow Dutchman? The Squirrel Nation hopes and expects that this will be the case. Otherwise the gap between Omiya and J1 safety will only grow bigger.