Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Home) v Yokohama F. Marinos (Away)
Event: Fuji Xerox Super Cup 2014
Location: Kokuritsu Kasumigaoka Rikujō Kyogijō a.k.a the National Stadium
Kickoff at: 13:35 on 22nd February 2014
Referee Name: Unknown
The traditional start to the season, the Fuji Xerox Cup, comprises of a single match between the winners of the J-League J1 champions versus the winners of the Emperor’s Cup. This year is a rematch, once again at Kokuritsu, of the Emperor’s Cup contestants, our beloved F. Marinos and Sanfrecce Hiroshima who we thoroughly trounced 2-0 in the same location on New Year’s Day.
The New Year’s day match saw Marinos without their striker Marquinhos who was AWOL in Brazil and backup striker Yoshihito Fujita sitting in disgrace in the stands after getting a one match suspension, for receiving too many yellow cards, following the Emperor’s Cup semi-final against Sagan Tosu. The final card was received for booting the ball at the goalie after the referee’s whistle to stop play, to which Fujita later commented, “I did a stupid thing…”, with which we agree.
For the Emperor’s cup final, the striker’ s position was filled by former Marinos youth Jin Hanato whose generous light touch to Hyodo in the box set up the assist to Saito Manabu to score the first goal in the 17th minute with Kobayashi Yuzo’s uncharacteristically courageous and proficient dribble setting the stage for the goal.
Bomber’s completion, 4 minutes later, to make it 2-0 by heading in the rebound from Nakamachi’s shoot, after a corner.
The second goal finished off Hiroshima, who looked increasing agitated in the second half with Ishihara in 93 minute body-checking, or was it dead-legging, anyway mugging Shunsuke as he was about to take a free kick. Defender Shiotani who also closed in on Shunsuke seems to have picked up the yellow card and tongue lashing from our Captain for this uncharacteristic dirty play from the purple players even though it was clearly Ishihara who was the culprit.
Marinos Team Preview
For the rematch F. Marinos find themselves with a glut of Forwards; newly acquired Takuro Yamaja and Ito Sho as well Fujita and Hanato. Now, everyone is wondering who will make the starting line up in this first match since the end of the transfer window. Will manager Higuchi start with Fujita or will, more likely, one of the new boys be up front for the kick-off. Given that the first ACL game against Jeonbuk Motors is on the following Wednesday, it will be interesting to see whether the top players will be kept in reserve for the more important title match.
Hiroshima Sanfrecce Team Preview
Hiroshima’s major change will be in goal with the departure of, 27-year-old Japan national reserve goalkeeper, Nishikawa who had played in goal for Sanfrecce in all but one of their 34 league games last year. Nishikawa moves to Urawa to again play under manager Mihailo Petrovic who seems intent to recruit the entire Hiroshima team he coached from 2006 to 2011.
Marinos vs Hiroshima Sanfrecce Stats
The New Year’s day result made three straight losses for Hiroshima against our boys with a 1-0 loss at Nissan in October and embarrassing 3-1 loss at home in April 2013. The last time Marinos suffered defeat against Hiroshima being in May of 2011 where Sanfrecce won 3-2 at home.
Marinos vs Opposition Prediction
Marinos finished of the year like men possessed, determined to sweep the memories of Todoroki under the carpet and start 2014 afresh with victory showing that they were pretty much as effective, if not more effective, without the wandering Brazilian as they were with him. Playing new untried Forwards will add some uncertainty to the match though it will be a chance to see how the new players have acclimatised to Higuchi’s Ojisan Army’s pace and style of play. Hiroshima, are no doubt, a good team. They looked tired on New Year’s day after taking two games to extra time to get to the final and only the octopus-like arms of Enomoto, our guardian in goal, saved us from a less convincing victory. The replay will probably be a more close match but we still hope for a similar margin in our victory later this month.