Japanese Non-league Football News

Mitsubishi Mizushima Look Back
Reeling from their last place finish in the JFL, newcomers from the Chugoku League Mitsubishi Mizushima have been looking back at the club's first ever season in the third tier of Japanese club football, describing it collectively as having been "an ordeal". With two wins and two draws in thirty matches, the Okayama prefecture-based club ended up with just eight points and indeed on two separate occasions during the campaign they endured an eleven-game losing streak. Having begun the year with four defeats, Mizushima then scraped a 4-3 thriller at Honda Lock, thanks in the main to a hat-trick from star striker Daisuke Matsuoka. This triumph was then followed by draws against Denso and SC Tottori, and it seemed for a brief period as if the club was finding its feet. But it was a false dawn indeed, and only one more match throughout a long season resulted in anything other than a defeat.

09 Dec 05 - Long-suffering Mitsubishi Mizushima fans cheer on the lads

Long-suffering Mitsubishi Mizushima fans cheer on the lads

In the preceding close season, however, the squad had been increased, with the overall staff of the club swelling to as many as fifty people. On the playing side, a policy was adopted of selecting for each match whichever squad members were at the peak of fitness and it appears that this idea instead brought about a lack of understanding amongst the players, as no-one was allowed to develop experience of playing the system - "man for man, we're not at a lower level to other teams in the JFL," commented defender Kazunori Miyake. "Our problems this year have related to team strength and organisation." A further difficulty came about due to the fact that a large number of the players are employees of Mitsubishi Motors and have found it physically very demanding to cope with playing JFL football on top of ten-hour night shifts in the factory. Mental problems, too, came about because in 2004, the team were regarded in the Chugoku League as invincible and naturally found it disheartening to move into a situation where wins were so much harder to come by.

09 Dec 05 - Kentaro Tsuchiya gets in a shot against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo

Kentaro Tsuchiya gets in a shot against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo

During the second half of the season, a tactical change was made to pack the midfield more and so aim towards a more attacking style and, although results failed to improve, the players felt that they were more able to get into attacking shapes and put the opposition under pressure, with players such as Matsuoka and midfielder Toshiya Yamashita coming to the fore. "We have to use this season as an experience, a learning curve," said Yuuki Watanabe, vice-captain and a member of the over-stretched Mitsubishi defence. "It's important that we improve the quality of our training, because next season there are two more teams in the JFL and there's the threat of relegation in an eighteen-team league. 2006 is a really vital year for us."

12 Dec 05 - A very very rare moment of triumph - the win over Yokogawa Musashino

A very very rare moment of triumph - the shock win over Yokogawa Musashino

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