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Robson Ponte: the master craftsman

26 Sep 2005(Mon)

September 23, 2005 -- It's a familiar sight, isn't it?

The Urawa Reds No. 10, scoring goals and helping to win matches.

No, I'm not talking about Emerson, of course. He's long gone.

I'm referring to his replacement, Robson Ponte.

I must make it clear that he is Emerson's replacement by number only, not by position, as Ponte was signed to fill the gap left by Yamase's move to Yokohama F Marinos.

In fact, on the Sunday a few weeks ago when I went to Reds' Ohara training ground to find out where Emerson was, Ponte was already there and about to join from Bayer Leverkusen.

No, Tomi Maric is Emerson's direct replacement as a striker, but Ponte has softened the blow of losing their goal-scoring hero "Eme" to the riches of the Gulf.

Emerson and Ponte could not be more different, could they?

Whereas Emerson used his explosive pace and power to break down defences by smashing through the front window, Ponte is much more subtle and crafty. Ponte is more like a skilled locksmith, patiently picking the lock and entering through the back door.

In his six league games so far, Ponte has scored four goals, which is an excellent return for a midfield player, and one of the reasons why Reds cannot be written off in the title race.

Although Gamba (47 points) and Antlers (46) occupy the top two places after 24 games, Reds are not far behind in third place with 40. Urawa, of course, will be hoping for a Gamba-Antlers draw at Suita City on Saturday night, and aiming for three points themselves at home to Yokohama F Marinos. Although Marinos are out of the title race in a distant 10th with 32 points, they will make life as hard as possible for Urawa with so much pride at stake in front of a big crowd at Saitama.

With 10 league games to go, there are still 30 points available, so every team will keep fighting at the top and at the bottom.


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