Melbourne Victory 1 – 0 Yokohama F-Marinos
That was a hard one to take. Despite dominating possession for the entire second half, missing several gilt-edged chances and even rattling the crossbar from a Jungo free-kick, the ball just wouldn’t go in to the net. After the match I had two main considerations; firstly, how are we going to compete in the J-League this season if we struggle for goals like this without Shun and Sho? Secondly, is our ACL campaign dead in the water before it ever really started?
Amidst all the talk of a lack of goals, I was amused to see Brazilian striker Marquinhos get on the scoresheet for Vissel Kobe at the weekend in their 1-1 draw against FC Tokyo. To say that Marquinhos left F-Marinos last season on bad terms wouldn’t necessarily be accurate, but one certainly could argue that the circumstances surrounding his departure were somewhat bizarre. For a player reported to be earning the highest salary of any player in our squad, his decision to depart after our failure to secure the league title, and some weeks before the seasons officially ended, was a strange one. Rather than compete in the Emperor’s cup in the hope of salvaging something from the season, Marqui left the club (and fans!) and took a trip back home to Brazil for Christmas before returning to Kobe in the close season.
I’m sure he had his reasons. Some say that the emotion of losing the title was too much for him so he felt it better to move on, but for me, Marquinhos owed it to the fans to stay where he was and finish his contract at the very least. His form in-front of goal had been non-existent since August and, despite scoring 16 league goals in the first half of the season, he failed to score a single goal in the final 10 matches of the season. That he scored his first goal since joining Kobe last weekend (and his first goal since August last year!) is of no surprise, and I have no doubts he’ll get another this weekend… just to rub it in!
As for the ACL, the decision to leave Shun, Bomber and other starting XI members in Yokohama as the others made the trip to Melbourne was either an error of judgement on the part of Coach Higuchi (in underestimating our opponents), or an indication that he no longer feels the ACL is a competition worth putting it ‘all’ in to. There’s evidence to support the latter, as last season saw Sanfrecce Hiroshima essentially give up on the tournament, playing a second string throughout most group matches and finishing bottom of their group. Personally I’d like to see the side do well in the ACL, but I do recognise the lack of real depth in our squad means we need to be sensible in choosing who plays where and when. Sparing Shunsuke and a few others a 20 hour round trip in between two league games was probably the right thing to do, but I feel for the fans who made the huge journey to Melbourne for the game. The support received great praise from the locals (who know a thing or two themselves about supporting their club) and a TricolorePride reader named Brett, who’ll be making his own debut at the Nissan in the next few weeks, sent us these photos to share with fans of the club. Thanks Brett!