The picture is old but the sentiment is not as forgotten man Yuzo Funakoshi popped his head up after a 3 month slumber in Satellite purgatory and collected 2 goals to push Verdy over Ehime 2-1. The victory propels the Tokyo squad into a tie tie for first with a +13 goal differential. This virtually guarantees straight promotion and puts the side into a great position to win a championship for the firt time since the Emperor's Cup victory of 2004.
Falling just short but being eliminated were Shonan Bellmare, Cerezo Osaka, and perennial bridesmaid Vegalta Sendai. Next up for Tokyo is a game against Cerezo Osaka and you have to wonder what kind of teams and performances will happen for both sides.
Two teams in precarious positions are Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Kyoto Sanga FC. The squads have some serious decisions to make regarding how they will go about preparing for the next week. Kyoto needs Consadole to collapse at home to a gutty Mito side. Meanwhile, they have to go on the road to Kusatsu. Now, do they rest their regulars for the game on Wednesday, or go all out and hope for the best. Tough question.
Sanfrecce is in a more precarious position. Going into their final game as hosts to Gamba Osaka, Sanfrecce must first win against the Nabisco Cup Champions. Not impossible considering the team is in a funk following the defection of Magno Alves to Al Itthad. Second, they need Omiya to lose to Kawasaki Frontale. Again, this is a likely scenario considering that Kawasaki is on fire. The tricky part comes when you realize that Sanfrecce must also make up an 11 goal differential. Another hurdle for Sanfrecce is the loss of Captain Kazuyuki Toda to yellow card points, Illyan Stovanov to a red card, and U-22 star Toshihiro Aoyama to a foot injury (for the rest of the season). I'm not sure but yellow card suspensions might carry over to the playoff. If they do, Ueslei is on 3, so another yellow would render him out for at least one game and probably two. Sanfrecce goes into the match with a dismal 0-2-7 record. The ties were probably the most distressing of the two because they happened in the final moments of the game, including two goals in stoppage time to JEF Ichihara Chiba.
Do you rest the squad and take a hit, possibly entering the game with no momentum? Or do you risk the low odds and go all out, possibly losing one or more players to red cards or injuries?
Tough questions. If I had to choose between the two, I'd give Kyoto a slight advantage because of momentum.......but who knows.
GAMBA NEEDS TO HIRE A FOREIGN SCOUT......
Rumors abound that Gamba is looking to find fill-ins for Sidiclei and Magno Alves up north. Sports Hochi Yomiuri has reported that in addition to Omiya striker Denis Marques and Kyoto striker Paulinho, the southern powerhouse is now looking at central defenders Leanardo from Montedio Yamagata and Omiya saviour Leandro. You could possibly see an all Omiya Brazilian trio in Bare, Denis, and Leandro. You might also see an angry blogger defecating in the middle of Koshien while eating a big bucket of Kentucky. Hey Gamba, find your own imports! And do your job next week. Besides, Alex and Chika would look much better in blue.