The time has finally come to preview arguably the biggest game in the history of Fujieda MYFC. Tomorrow’s second round match against Shizuoka rivals and J1 participants, Shimizu S-Pulse, will be a tough like never before for Fujieda.
Fujieda MYFC team news
Following last weekend’s heroic comeback in the first round 3-2 victory of Arterivo Wakayama, player/manager Toshihide Saito may be tempted to keep the same starting eleven. However, considering all three of Fujieda’s goals came after the 80th minute, by then all three substitutions had been made, the starting lineup is likely to change.
Akira Toshima made his debut last weekend but had little impact on the game, being subbed at half time. Alan was also replaced last week early on by Takumi Hashimoto so this could be likely to happen from the start this time.
Saito himself will be desperate to play against his former club but his playing opportunities with injuries. The same too for Daisuke Ichikawa, yet to play a game this season due to injury but he is also a former player of S-Pulse’s so will be keen to feature.
The pair have legend status at Shimizu. The match preview featured on the club’s website uses the word ‘legend’ to describe both of the former Japanese internationals. And they certainly are. Between them they made 548 league matches between them at the club. They also have many trophies between them. Saito won the J League Cup in his first season at the club and both of them Asian Cup Winners’ Cup in 2000. More importantly, they were both members of the side which lifted the Emperor’s Cup in 2001.
A lot has been said about them and this match really brings the players’ careers full circle, especially for Saito who now at the age of 40 is unlikely to have another shot at his former club.
Shimizu S-Pulse Fact File
Ground: IAI Stadium Nihondaira
Seasons in J1: 21
Last season: 9th in J1
Although never winners of Japan’s top division, Shimizu S-Pulse have twice finished third and once finished as runners-up. The side was formed in 1992 and with the J1 starting in 1993, they have competed in every season of the league since its inception.
They have also been successful been successful in the domestic cup scene winning a J League Cup, an Emperor’s Cup and Japanese Super Cups. The side has also had success on the continential side, winning the Asian Cup Winners’ Cup in 2000 as well as finishing third in the tournament in the season after.
However, recent years have seen little success. The past two seasons have seen the side finish in a less than impressive, 10th and 9th. In this year’s J1, S-Pulse are currently sitting in 13th spot, with a near identical record to that of MYFC’s in the JFL, with both clubs having played 24 league games this year so far. Shimizu have amassed 32 points Fujieda have earned 31 in their respective leagues.
Judging by their performances in recent seasons (although they did finish runners-up to Kashima Antlers in last year’s J League Cup) they are unlikely to be challenging for the title anytime soon.
Despite this, tomorrow’s is set to be a massive test for Fujieda and accordingly, Shimizu are overwhelming favourites. They have recently been boosted by two loan signings in the from of Dzenan Radoncic and Genki Omae.
The first has scored a goal in both of his appearances so far in J1 and the latter is on loan from Fortuna Dusseldorf having previously played for S-Pulse, scoring 13 goals in the 2012 season before his move to Germany.
The match kicks off tomorrow (Saturday 7th) at 3pm or 7am in the UK. The match is being played at IAI Stadium Nihondaira in Shimizu, Shizuoka and holds just over 20,000. Hopefully there will be plenty of Fujieda fans there to cheer on the team.
Come on Fujieda!