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Lightweight Omiya need more muscle

21 Jun 2007(Thu)

June 19, 2007: A J.League Saturday that had started with an anti-climax at Todoroki ended in exhilarating style with a dramatic finish at Komaba.

First up in the Kanto football feast was Frontale-Reysol at sun-drenched Todoroki, where Kengo Nakamura really looked the part but the forwards on both teams wasted clear scoring chances in a forgettable 0-0 draw.

I was hoping Ganaha would get among the goals ahead of the Asian Cup squad announcement on Monday, but it just wasn't happening for him and he remains on one league goal for the season. He really needs an injection of confidence (is that legal under J.League rules?)

From Todoroki in the afternoon to Komaba in the evening, where there was a superb atmosphere and a big crowd of almost 17,000; two thirds of the stadium clad in orange, and the other third in...well, orange. Ardija against Albirex, and the Orange Derby certainly lived up to its billing in terms of controversy and drama.

First, the sending off of Niigata right winger Matsushita six minutes before the break. Whatever you think of his second yellow card for what the referee deemed a studs-up tackle, it was his first yellow that was ridiculous. The game was going nowhere after 25 minutes, Albirex were on top if anything, and Matsushita needlessly delayed play by kicking the ball away. Referee Osada was absolutely right to show him the yellow card, and I hope Albirex manager Suzuki will be critical of his own player rather than the officials.

With a man advantage, Omiya went on to win 2-1 with goals from Yoshihara and a soaring header from substitute Wakabayashi. Daigo Kobayashi played a big part in both goals, although he still looked a long way from full match fitness, unlike the lively Yoshihara and Fujimoto. But when Daigo has such quality with the ball at his feet, manager Robert Verbeek is happy to keep him on the pitch and get those minutes in.

Unfortunately, the standard of Omiya's foreign players leaves a lot to be desired once again, with only central defender Leandro in the starting line-up of a struggling team and both forwards staying on the bench.

Maybe scouting trips to Romania and Brazil will have produced some muscular additions in attack and central midfield to Omiya's creative yet lightweight personnel.


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