A difficult task to front up to
After the crushing disappointment that was Saturday night (for my thoughts on the night you can read my latest 442 blog), it is now time for the Melbourne Victory boys to pick themselves up for the all-important match against fellow ACL strugglers, Kawasaki Frontale. With both teams on zero points after two games, it a must win game for the two teams, as a loss will pretty much put an end to any hopes of progressing to the next stage of the competition.
Being that I know even less about the team from Japan than I do about Beijing Guoan and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma it was again time to ask Mike Tuckerman, regular The Roar and FourFourTwo contributor and Australian Football Weekly’s Asian football expert the questions to which we all want answers.
What style of play can we expect?
Some free-flowing, attacking football.Kawasaki are one of the most attack-minded sides in Asian football, thanks in part to the midfield promptings of playmaker Kengo Nakamura.Up front a strike force of North Korean international Chong Tese and Brazilians Juninho and Renatinho has seen Kawasaki finish top scorers for the past four J. League seasons in a row, and as we saw when Frontale beat Central Coast Mariners 5-0 in Gosford, they’re capable of scoring from all over the pitch.Frontale are less than watertight at the back though, and they have a tendency to crack under pressure, so it remains to be seen how they might perform should they go a goal down.
Who are the dangermen?
Kawasaki have got them all over the pitch.Kengo Nakamura is capable of splitting open a game with his incisive passing and accurate set pieces, while fellow attacking midfielder Vitor Junior should return after missing much of last season through injury.They’ve also drafted in much-travelled Japan international Junichi Inamoto, while Chong Tese is sometimes referred to as “the Asian Wayne Rooney,” and the bullocking North Korean striker is about as destructive a player as it gets.
Where do you think Melbourne has the advantage?
In the physical department. Kawasaki’s bustling strike force generally takes some stopping, but the likes of Kevin Muscat, Rody Vargas and Grant Brebner could give Victory the edge.
How did Kawasaki qualify?
By finishing second in the J. League. With three games to go, Kawasaki travelled to bottom club Oita Trinita knowing that a win would almost certainly wrap up their first ever J. League title. Instead they lost 1-0 and opened the door to Kashima Antlers, who eventually went on to win their third straight Japanese crown. The crushing disappointment was too much for coach Takashi Sekizuka, who stepped down during the off-season to be replaced by Tsutomu Takahata – a coach who took charge of Kawasaki on an interim basis in 2008.