Kick by kick

Japanese football has developed at an incredible rate since the J.League was launched in 1993, and the recent 30th Anniversary celebrations highlighted the fact there is still vast potential for further growth in the country… (日本語版)

The J.League pulled out all the stops for its 30th anniversary celebrations in mid-May, with commemorative matches at National Stadium, a series of awards, and even a new ‘anthem’.

All games over the weekend of 13-15 May were designated as ‘30th Anniversary Special Matches’, kicking off with a lively Tamagawa Clasico between FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale at Kokuritsu on the Friday night and culminating with Kashima Antlers ‘hosting’ Nagoya Grampus at the same venue on the Sunday.

These fixtures provided a wonderful illustration of how far the J.League has come since its inaugural campaign kicked off in 1993, attracting more than 110,000 fans to the stadium and offering them plenty of high level football and no shortage of talking points to bicker over on the way home or on social media.

As impressive as the spectacles were, however, there was still something slightly jarring about Tokyo and Kashima having to play ‘home’ games at National Stadium instead of at their own grounds, and it was also hard to shake the sense that a lot of the commemorative activities were much more than box-ticking exercises featuring the usual stories and faces. 

This is of course inevitable to an extent when it comes to marking anniversaries, but at such times it is just as important to focus on the present and look ahead to the future as it is to look back on the achievements of the past.

With this in mind, the highlight of the anniversary weekend for me was not either of the headline games in central Tokyo but instead Saturday’s clash slightly more off the beaten track in Nagano, where AC Nagano Parceiro and Matsumoto Yamaga were contesting their third Shinshu Derby in the J.League.

Despite the chill in the air and a steady drizzle that fell throughout the evening the atmosphere was electric inside the superb Nagano U Stadium, where 12,458 fans ensured the compact venue was bouncing from start to finish and the players put on a feisty contest befitting the occasion.

Nagano manager Yuki Stalph, sporting some snazzy orange knitwear, helped stoke the fires on and off the pitch by spending what seemed like the entire game in a perpetual state of rage, haranguing the referee and fourth official about every decision – and the Yamaga bench got just as agitated on occasion, even kicking a second ball onto the pitch to stop a quick restart at one point.

All of this niggly activity is what we’re supposed to say we don’t want to see during games but secretly all enjoy, and the action on the pitch more than lived up to the simmering tensions around it. Yusuke Kikui was lively on the Yamaga left and constantly trying to cause problems, but Parceiro always looked a more coherent unit than the visitors and deservedly took the lead in the 32nd minute courtesy of a Takuya Akiyama header.

With Masaki Miyasaka in imperious form against his former side – so nonchalant in possession and never flustered, like a J3 Juan Roman Riquelme – Nagano never looked like surrendering control after taking the lead, and it was no surprise when Hiroki Yamamoto – another former Yamaga player – steered home the hosts’ second with 11 minutes to play.

With five minutes left on the clock Stalph was frantically urging the home fans to redouble their efforts and help the team over the line to a famous first league victory over their bitter rivals, and although Ren Komatsu pulled a slightly fortuitous goal back for Matsumoto after a Kim Min-ho error deep into injury time Nagano did hold on for a fully-deserved three points.

“I think what we saw today is that football has become part of the lives of people in Shinshu,” Stalph said after the game. “There was real excitement in the build-up to this game, the media were giving it a lot of attention, and there were many people here who maybe don’t usually come to the stadium.

“People had pride in their town, there was a real feeling of not wanting to lose to their rival town. Usually that kind of thing can lead to fights and wars and so on, but in football that is something that is accepted. For me, that is the beauty of football.”

Miyasaka was also enthused by the fact that a match in the third tier could produce such an impressive atmosphere.

“I’ve played in J1 and J2 and in those leagues there are many fans, and as a player I really feel the delight of being able to experience this in J3. I really want to have this feeling of gratitude at playing in front of the fans every week.”

While rivalries like those between Nagano and Matsumoto of course produce exceptional circumstances, they still demonstrate the potential of the J.League as it looks to build on its first 30 years, something Stalph was keen to reinforce.

“That idea of football becoming a part of everyday life is something that Japanese football needs more and more as it comes increasingly into contact with the rest of the world. It’s the togetherness of a region.

“We exist for the people of Nagano. To make the people happy and ensure everyone is able to take this energy home with them, and then gather here again next week and make some noise again together.

“I think the Shinshu Derby expresses that cycle. I want it to become the case that Japan has these kinds of enthusiastic atmospheres in stadiums all around the country. I think we have shown in Nagano that there is that potential, and it’s the same for us as other clubs – we want to grow closer and closer with the local area and work to encourage the local people to come here and experience this joy with us.”

Marquee games in the capital are certainly plenty of fun, but it is in the towns and cities around the country where the roots of the game truly take hold. The first 30 years have seen sensational growth and deserve applause, but in the coming decades the J.League has to keep its focus on those fundamental bonds in order for Japanese football to keep growing.


Reysol in the shade

A decade ago Kashiwa Reysol were one of the heavyweights of the J.League, but the team’s start to the 2023 season makes those glory days seem a long time ago… (日本語版)

On 30 April 2013, Kashiwa Reysol were wrapping up their AFC Champions League group stage duties in Australia with an assured 3-0 win over Central Coast Mariners, ensuring they finished undefeated and top of their group on the way to a club-best semi-final finish.

The previous season Reysol had lifted the Emperor’s Cup, two years prior to that they had won J1 on their immediate return as champions of the second tier, and Nelsinho’s men went on to complete their sweep of domestic titles at the end of 2013 by defeating Urawa Reds 1-0 in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup final, Masato Kudo striking the only goal of the game at Tokyo National Stadium.

The sun isn’t shining quite so brightly for the Chiba club these days, however, and ahead of this weekend’s crunch game against Yokohama FC Reysol find themselves slumming it in 16th place in J1 with just 11 points after 12 rounds of games.

Despite the club’s slow start to the current campaign Yugo Tatsuta insists he has plenty of belief that the tide will turn though, and feels things are slowly starting to come together.

“Of course there’s a level of tension in games, but I also feel like I’m starting to play with a little more freedom,” he said after the 1-1 draw against Kyoto Sanga on 29 April – almost 10 years to the day since Reysol’s ACL triumph in New South Wales. 

“It’s a good kind of tension. I don’t know if it’s correct to say that I “enjoy” it, but mentally I feel a sense of ease.”
Even so, the former Shimizu S-Pulse man acknowledged that Reysol have to improve if they are to avoid getting sucked into a relegation battle.

“I think strong teams would make certain of getting another goal in games like today’s – we need to become more like that.

“Also, winning teams don’t concede goals at the time we did today. We might not be happy about it, but after 10, 11 games we all know that if you don’t focus on the small details of games then you don’t win.”

This was an opinion shared by Tatsuta’s central defensive partner Taiyo Koga.

“I think we need to be a little clearer in terms of what it is we’re actually trying to do from the very start of matches,” the 24-year-old Reysol youth product said after the stalemate against Sanga.

“Today it ended up being a game where we both played a lot of long balls, but instead of just going along with what the opponent is doing I think we need to clarify exactly how we want to play ourselves. If we don’t do that, we can’t build.”

This Saturday’s clash against rock bottom Yokohama provides the perfect opportunity for Reysol to lay down a marker in that regard, and with Reysol only four points above Shuhei Yomoda’s side at the time we spoke Koga was in no doubt as to what would be required of the team in front of their fervent support at Sankyo Frontier Kashiwa Stadium.

“The best case scenario for us is that we’re heading into that game with an even bigger points gap between us and them,” he said – a state of affairs Reysol’s 2-1 win away to Shonan Bellmare on 3 May and the subsequent 0-0 in Niigata have just about produced, with them now in possession of a five-point cushion over Yokohama.

“We know it’s a home game and one we absolutely can’t slip up in. A draw isn’t good enough, it’s a game we absolutely have to win.

“We don’t know what the flow of the game will be like, but we have to devote ourselves to getting the win.”

While Tatsuta is inclined not to focus too heavily on the table at what is still an early stage of the season, he likewise stressed the importance of Reysol re-acquainting themselves with winning games as soon as possible.

“It’s not the case yet that we’re going into games thinking, ‘If we lose today we’ll drop down the table’. There are a lot of games to play – and I of course know we can’t keep saying things like this indefinitely – but we know we have to go into each and every game looking to win.

“Like today, we conceded first but ultimately managed to get a draw, and in games we’re drawing we need to push for wins. I think that’s important. As a rule, we shouldn’t be looking at who we’re playing but going into every game willing to battle 100 percent in order to try and win.

“The supporters want wins more than anything else, so we have to give them that. Our target is not to avoid relegation, we have to go higher.”

Reysol’s fans certainly aren’t backwards about coming forwards, and a substantial portion expressed their displeasure with loud boos as the team greeted them after the hard-earned point against Kyoto. Koga is determined to change that set of circumstances as quickly as possible.

“The best thing is going behind the goal with a smile,” he said. “We don’t want things to continue like today’s game, so we have to win.

“I wouldn’t say I feel pressure (because of it), but that brings a good level of tension. We feel the expectations of the supporters, and can’t betray them. We have a strong feeling of having to win for them.

“Ordinarily where we are now would be the relegation zone, but this year it’s different,” he added in reference to the fact that only one team will be demoted to J2 at the end of the season.

“We don’t want to be too negative, but we’re not high enough up the table that we can ignore what’s happening at the bottom. We have to aim to be higher up the table, but it’s also good that we don’t have to be too nervous.”

That’s true for now, but if the home team don’t claim all three points against Yokohama on Saturday then the Sun Kings may just start to feel the heat.


Utaka not petering out

Peter Utaka has been in characteristically potent form for Ventforet Kofu of late, and the veteran striker is showing no signs of slowing down even as he approaches his 40th birthday… (日本語版)

Over the years plenty of foreign strikers have fired their way into the affections of J.League fans.

In the 1990s Ramón Diaz, Patrick Mboma, and Hwang Sun-hong were among the golden boot recipients, more recently the likes of Josh Kennedy, Michael Olunga, and Leandro Damião have also played pivotal roles in their clubs’ success, while, after putting up almost 400 goals between them, the Brazilian trio of Marquinhos, Ueslei, and Juninho all sit in the all-time top 10 J1 scorers list.

When it comes to consistency in front of goal, Peter Utaka is also right up there with the best of them.

The Nigerian marksman is another to have picked up a J1 top scorer gong after registering 19 goals for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2016 – sharing the honour with Leandro of Vissel Kobe – and in his eight campaigns in Japan ahead of this year (including a half-season loan with Tokushima Vortis in 2018) the lowest his strike rate has ever dropped is fractionally below a goal every three games.

Utaka returned to Ventforet Kofu at the start of 2023 after leaving Kyoto Sanga – where last season he finished as their top scorer with nine goals in the top flight – and he made an instant impact on his second debut in blue and red by scoring in the 2-1 loss to Yokohama F. Marinos in the Fujifilm Super Cup on 11 February, in the process becoming the oldest player to score in the competition at the age of 38 years and 364 days.

“It’s my second Super Cup, scoring in both of them,” he said in the mixed zone at Tokyo National Stadium after that game. “The first one was for Hiroshima against Gamba [Osaka], which we won (in 2016), and now another one. Thirty-nine tomorrow – that’s why I needed this goal!”

You certainly wouldn’t have known Utaka was edging closer to 40 by his enthusiasm levels after completing 90 minutes against the reigning J1 champions, and that eagerness also remains on full display on the pitch as well.

“I’m feeling positive,” he said of his hopes for Ventforet’s season. “It’s a different style [to Kyoto] – I’ve been pressing forward for the last three years without waiting for anybody, and now you have to wait, wait, and it’s all about timing here.”

Being of similarly steadily-advancing years and just a year younger than Utaka I suggested that a less energy-consuming approach sounds slightly more appealing, but he insisted with a laugh that he has no preference.

“I don’t mind. I really don’t mind, ‘cos I can run! I do whatever is needed. If the coach says ’run’ I run, if he says ‘wait’ I wait – it doesn’t matter.

“Football is my hobby, and if you look at me, the way I move, I don’t move like I’m 39 years old. I take care of my body, I take care of myself. My body is not weak and I’m mentally very, very strong. Physically as well, I consider that I’m strong. I just love playing football, and as long as I can move as fast as I can then I’ll keep playing. Until I don’t have the motivation anymore, and then that will be the day.”

The fire is clearly still burning bright 11 games into the J2 season, with Utaka having started every game so far and contributing four goals and three assists – including the winners in Ventforet’s two most recent games, 1-0 victories over Tochigi SC and early pacesetters Machida Zelvia – to leave them sitting well placed in fourth.

As well as pushing for a return to J1, this season also comes with the added bonus of participation in the AFC Champions League – a competition Utaka has played in before for Beijing Guoan and Sanfrecce – and while there is a danger that the schedule could take its toll on top of Kofu’s regular domestic commitments, Utaka is confident he has the discipline to cope with the extra demands.

“As I’m getting older I know, ‘OK, I can’t eat this cos if I eat this I’m going to get a bit fat’, and why would I eat it if I’m then going to have to work it off in the next day or the next two days, you know what I mean?

“As you’re getting older, you know it gets harder to lose weight and to lose fat and things like that,  so for me I try to avoid things and focus on what keeps my body healthy. I don’t do dieting, to be honest with you. I just don’t eat cheese or things that definitely aren’t good for your body.”

Indeed, in amongst all the goals Utaka perhaps isn’t always given the credit he deserves for his dedication to the team and selflessness on the front line, and as well as being a lethal finisher the former Shimizu S-Pulse and FC Tokyo man also serves as a superb foil for those around him, dragging defenders out of position and being just as likely to provide a killer pass as he is shot.

With 118 goals in 264 J.League games (45 in 115 J1 appearances and 73 in 149 in J2) it is primarily the scoring charts where Utaka is leaving his mark though, and when all is said and done he looks likely to be sitting pretty near the summit.

Matching Juninho’s 181 goals combined across the top two tiers will be too tall an order, but if he can maintain his fitness and form for another season or two then Utaka will certainly fancy his chances of overhauling former Yokohama FC and Omiya Ardija goal-getter Abdurahim ‘Ibba’ Laajab (82 goals) to become the most prolific foreigner in J2 history.

“When I wake up every morning, I want to go training,” he said after the Super Cup. “That’s the feeling that’s kept me going.

“The day I wake up and I don’t feel like going to training, that will be the last day – I’ll be like, ‘No guys, I’ve had enough’. Any day I’m going to feel something like that, that will be it for me. But for now, I still want to score 20 goals, do you know what I mean?

“In J2, I still want to score 20 goals. If I can’t get double digits in J2 then I’ll think maybe it’s about time. But as long as I can keep getting those double digits then it’s not a problem, I’ll keep going.”

He’s on course to comfortably make that target again this season, and the age of Utaka doesn’t look like it will be petering out any time soon.


Urawa’s striking ambition

After a stumble out of the gate Urawa Reds have quietly played into some steady form in the J.League, but they’ll be hoping to add a little extra quality in the final third as their ACL final edges ever closer… (日本語版)

Urawa Reds’ start to the 2023 season was far from auspicious, kicking off with back-to-back 2-0 defeats on the road at FC Tokyo and Yokohama F. Marinos, but Maciej Skorża’s men have rallied well since and are now eight games unbeaten in all competitions after drawing 0-0 away to Nagoya Grampus on 9 April.

That point leaves them in amongst the chasing pack in J1 and just three points behind early pacesetters Vissel Kobe, although domestic affairs will have to take a backseat soon as continental matters return to the fore a scarcely-believable eight months after Reds beat Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on penalties in the AFC Champions League semi-final on 25 August last year.

After welcoming former manager Mihailo Petrovic and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to Saitama Stadium this Saturday Urawa have a Levain Cup fixture at home to Shonan Bellmare then travel to an out-of-sorts Kawasaki Frontale the following weekend, before they head to Riyadh for the first leg of their third Asian decider against Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia in seven years on 30 April 

Ricardo Rodriguez has of course left the club since guiding them to the final on home turf last summer, but after a shaky start to his tenure it looks like the Spaniard’s replacement Skorża is gradually getting his methods across and turning Reds into an increasingly formidable opponent.

“There are a lot of tactical differences,” defender Alexander Scholz told me after Reds’ 2-1 win over Albirex Niigata at Komaba Stadium on 18 March.

“How you move the ball, how you build the attack. Last year it was a lot through the centre and now we have more patterns through the sides also. The coach still wants to add more, of course, especially in the last third, which is where everyone can see we are not putting in enough crosses, we are not creating that many big chances, and that’s something we are working on every week.

“But it also needs to come at some point from the players themselves, that they demand it from each other. It is something we are all working on. Luckily as we are winning the weeks are a bit easier to process, the work is [more] easily done.”

The manner in which Urawa closed out that victory over an eager and probing Albirex last month demonstrated a growing assurance in defence, and Scholz made it clear that a strong base is vital to the way the team want to play.

“I think we were solid,” the Dane, who joined from FC Midtjylland in May 2021, said. “Conceding first is a very bad idea, because often the games are decided by a low margin and you have to score two. Keeping a clean sheet – we’ve only had one so far this season, I’d like to have more.”

Scholz got his wish on that front with Reds going on to keep shutouts in three of their next four games, and similar discipline will be crucial at the back against Al Hilal, who Reds defeated 2-1 on aggregate in 2017’s showpiece before going down 3-0 over two legs in 2019.

In the other direction there is still work to do, and Urawa have found the net just nine times in their 10 league and Levain Cup games so far – a third of which came against struggling Kashiwa Reysol on 31 March. 

“We make too many personal mistakes, easy mistakes,” Scholz said of the team’s lack of fluidity going forward against Niigata, a game in which their goals came from full-backs Hiroki Sakai and Takahiro Akimoto.

“It doesn’t necessarily lead to anything, but it just breaks our rhythm and all the balls we actually conquered high on the pitch didn’t really lead anywhere.

“You can say, of course, that it does’t matter who scores the goals, but it’s always better when the offensive players score the goals. So it’s something we are working on as a team, to set it up. I also feel a little bit guilty about it, because they are working so hard for me and the defence.”

The root of that issue may well be that, like manager Rodriguez, both scorers from Reds’ semi-final draw against Jeonbuk have since headed for pastures new, with Yusuke Matsuo joining K.V.C. Westerlo in Belgium and Kasper Junker now on loan at Nagoya Grampus.

Junker added to his dramatic last-minute equaliser by converting a penalty in the subsequent shoot-out, with Scholz and Ataru Esaka – another who is no longer playing his football in Saitama after signing for Ulsan Hyundai – also netting from 12 yards to book Reds’ place in this final.

Since the departure of Junker, Matsuo, and Esaka no-one has staked a claim as Red’s scorer-in-chief, with Shinzo Koroki getting the most minutes since returning from Sapporo but registering just once, Bryan Linssen yet to contribute any goals, and new signing Jose Kante only making his debut as a late substitute against Nagoya.

Indeed, Urawa’s top scorer so far in J1 is left-back Akimoto with just two goals, and Scholz feels the scoring duties may continue to be shared around.

“We don’t have those 10, 15 goals in one player in a season, so I think we’ll probably have to spread it out – to have say five or six players on six, seven, eight goals. That will be fine as well. Our team is more made for that, I think, than having one goal scorer.”

That may well be the case over the course of the season, but come the second leg of the ACL final on 6 May it won’t matter who puts the ball in the back of the net, just as long as somebody is on hand to join the likes of Yuichiro Nagai and Rafael Silva and write their name into Reds folklore by delivering the decisive strike in a Champions League final.


Setting off on the road to 2026

A new era is set to begin for the Samurai Blue, but change is likely to be gradual as Hajime Moriyasu sets his sights on the 2026 World Cup… (日本語版)

It has been nearly four months since Japan were eliminated from the Qatar World Cup by Croatia, and with the dust having settled and Hajime Moriyasu being handed a new contract the Samurai Blue are now all set to take their first steps on the road to 2026.

This month’s pair of friendlies against Uruguay and Colombia should provide decent run-outs for the side in Tokyo and Osaka, and the slightly new-look squad announced on 15 March offers some encouraging signs for the next phase of Moriyasu Japan’s evolution.

The exclusion of several veterans of course made headlines, but while none of Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, Yuto Nagatomo, Shuichi Gonda, or Gaku Shibasaki will be involved this time around they can’t be entirely written off from playing some part over the next three years. It doesn’t, however, look especially likely that any of them will be involved in the squad that hopefully ends up boarding the plane to the U.S, Canada, and Mexico.

Moriyasu had hinted that Gonda wouldn’t be considered on account of now playing in the second tier with Shimizu S-Pulse, with Daniel Schmidt looking like he’ll initially be the new first choice. Keisuke Osako and Kosei Tani are both talented options to challenge him, although it is a little surprising that Kosuke Nakamura wasn’t included, with the former Kashiwa Reysol man’s reputation in Portugal growing steadily thanks to his impressive performances for Portimonense.

The defence has also been freshened up, with Haruya Fujii of Nagoya Grampus earning his first call-up after Yokohama F. Marinos centre-back Ryotaro Tsunoda, another first timer, was forced to pull out with a knock, and plenty of energy brought in in the full-back positions.

Daiki Hashioka and Yukinari Sugawara have been in and around the squad before but now have chances to show they can stake real claims for starting berths, while 21-year-olds Riku Handa and Kashif Bangnagande are another pair of vibrant, attack-minded full-backs whose selections bode well for the future approach of the team.

Further forward things look slightly more settled, with LASK’s in-form Keito Nakamura the only new inclusion, but it’s hard to argue with most of the names listed in the midfield roles.

Kaoru Mitoma is now surely on the cusp of becoming the face of this team – and his club, too, with one friend in Brighton informing me that it is “Mitoma Fever” right now back in my hometown – and with Daichi Kamada, Ritsu Doan, Junya Ito, and Takefusa Kubo all performing well at the highest levels in Europe Japan are blessed with a wealth of creative talent in the attacking midfield area.

At centre-forward, meanwhile, it looks like Moriyasu has essentially gone for two different styles: a pair of traditional No.9s in Shuto Machino and Ayase Ueda, and two speed merchants who can press opposing defenders and break in behind in Takuma Asano and Daizen Maeda.

If this is indeed how the manager views the role of the man leading his line, then we may come a little closer to understanding Kyogo Furuhashi’s omission, which once again provoked some head-scratching bearing in mind his consistent scoring form for Celtic.

While I would probably still pick Furuhashi if I was the manager, the fact is I’m not and Moriyasu is. He is building his Japan team, and it isn’t entirely clear how Furuhashi would fit into it. The former Vissel Kobe man isn’t really a target man who can play with his back to goal and hold the ball up for teammates, and while no slouch he also doesn’t have the searing pace of Maeda and Asano, meaning he essentially falls between the two stools Moriyasu appears to have laid out.

While Furuhashi’s finishing ability can’t be questioned – he was third top scorer in J1 in 2021 with 15 goals despite playing just 21 games, and is averaging more than a goal a game in the SPL this season – the truth is he is playing in a hugely unbalanced league for one of the only two teams to have won the title in the past 37 years (soon to be 38). Is that keeping him at a sharp enough level to contribute in the international game? We have to assume that for the time being Moriyasu thinks not.

Of course, that isn’t to say Furuhashi won’t be given another opportunity to show what he can do for his country at some point in the coming months, and this is far from being the squad Moriyasu will be taking to the North and Central America in three years.

Let us consider the first Japan squad after the 2018 World Cup, for instance. 

Masaaki Higashiguchi, Tomoaki Makino, Sho Sasaki, Sei Muroya, Genta Miura, Toshihiro Aoyama, Shoya Nakajima, Yu Kobayashi, Shintaro Kurumaya, Jun Amano, Kento Misao, Tatsuya Ito, and Kenyu Sugimoto (who went on to pull out with an injury) were all named for the 11 September 2018 friendly against Costa Rica (a game four days earlier against Chile was called off on account of the earthquake in Hokkaido).

None of these players ultimately made it to Qatar last year, but Hidemasa Morita, who was only introduced as a replacement for that squad (along with Amano) when Hotaru Yamaguchi and Ryota Oshima pulled out, did go on to play a central role for the side.

The fact is that the transition between generations is always more of a gradual process than it can sometimes appear, and the make-up of international teams evolves greatly throughout the qualification process in accordance with fluctuations in players’ form and fitness.

Sweeping conclusions can’t be drawn from the make-up of this squad then – and nor will they be possible from the outcome of these two games either – but the seeds of Moriyasu Japan v.2.0 have been planted, and it will be fascinating to see how they grow from here.


Waste not, want not

Jubilo Iwata have had a stuttering start to life back in J2, and if they don’t start converting their chances soon their stay in the second tier could be longer than they hope… (日本語版)

After 15 minutes of Jubilo Iwata’s game away to Omiya Ardija last weekend it is no exaggeration to say that the visitors could have been 5-0 up.

Instead, through a combination of hurried finishing, bad luck, and some impressive goalkeeping they somehow still found themselves locked in a goalless contest, and one they would ultimately go on to take nothing from.

The first chance came in just the third minute when Kenyu Sugimoto couldn’t quite convert on the stretch at the back post after some persistent work by Germain Ryo and a Yuto Suzuki cross from the right, and five minutes later it was Germain himself who was unable to time his jump correctly in order to connect with a tantalising Ko Matsubara cross.

Yasuhito Endo was the next to draw oohs from the nearly 9,000 fans at NACK5 Stadium as he steered a curling effort inches wide of Takashi Kasahara’s goal in the 10th minute, and a couple of minutes after that Endo, Sugimoto, and Shota Kaneko combined crisply before Sugimoto dragged an effort agonisingly wide from 13 yards out.

Kasahara was then called into action for the first time after a quarter of an hour when he got two strong hands to Dudu’s stabbed effort after Omiya failed to clear a corner, and at that point it started to feel like it just wasn’t going to be Jubilo’s afternoon.

“I think we did all the things we’d been working on in the first half here, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net,” an exasperated Akinobu Yokouchi said after seeing his team ultimately head home pointless after Angelotti struck a 94th-minute winner for Omiya.

“We also had good spells and chances in the second half too but weren’t able to decide things in our favour, and that’s an area we need to improve in.”

Indeed, the DAZN stats showed that Jubilo took 10 shots in the first 45 minutes, six of them on target, and their failure to strike a blow when in the ascendancy left them open to a sucker punch – which duly came two minutes after So Nakagawa was sent off in the 92nd minute for pulling Atsushi Kawata down when the last man.

“That was a game we should have won 3-0,” Matsubara said after the match. “We didn’t score in the first half, and when you don’t score goals in the first half of games like this they become difficult.”

Sugimoto was just as frank when asked what he thought the reason was for the team’s defeat, stating, “The fact we didn’t take our chances.

“We were in control for most of the 90 minutes, and were able to do a lot of the things we wanted to,” he continued. “In the first half we had chances we absolutely had to take, and that’s something we need to reflect on.”

When pressed as to how players can improve their accuracy in front of goal, the 30-year-old stressed there is no straightforward solution and that perseverance is key.

“I think it depends on the person. We were getting into good positions as a team and I had chances myself too, and it ultimately comes down to the individual. The only thing for it is practice.

“There’s also the atmosphere within the game, and the fact we didn’t take our chances was the cause of this defeat. I think we’ll have more games like this from now on too, so I just want to take it as a positive that this happened at the start of the season.”

Yokouchi will certainly hope his players can iron out the creases as soon as possible, with Jubilo targeting an immediate return to J1 after experiencing their third relegation from the top flight last year.

Their previous two spells in the second tier have both lasted for two seasons, although they have never finished lower than sixth, which this year would qualify them for the play-offs. For Matsubara, there is no doubt as to what a team of Jubilo’s stature should be targeting.

“We’re a club that has to be in J1, so it’s a must that we get back up within one year,” he said.

While relegated sides are usually seen as favourites to do just that, the fact Jubilo were dealt a two-transfer-window ban on account of the irregularities around their capture of Fabio Gonzalez last year complicates matters somewhat, and they weren’t among many people’s favourites ahead of the new campaign.

“In one sense, the fact the club couldn’t sign new players has maybe provided us with the positive of being able to play with the same players as last year and raise our level as a team,” Matsubara said. “But on the other hand, if we had a kind of trump card to bring on in the second half of games like this then things could have gone differently for us.”

Loan returnees aside, youngster Keisuke Goto is the only fresh face in the Jubilo squad this year having been promoted from the Under 18s, and he announced himself in style with a late brace in the opening day 3-2 defeat at home to Fagiano Okayama.

The 17-year-old also came on for the final 26 minutes against Omiya and was a lively presence in the final third, but whether a callow teenager can shoulder the hopes of a team of Jubilo’s stature remains to be seen.

At the other end of the experience spectrum they do of course still have Japan’s record cap holder Endo, and the 43-year-old was characteristically calm after the last-gasp loss in Saitama.

“I think this was a game we should have taken three points from,” he said, before singing from the same hymn sheet as his manager and team-mates.

“We could have scored three, four, or five goals in the first half. That would have led to a different result for us, but that’s football.

“We’re making more chances which is good, so now we just have to make sure we score goals.”

If they can put things things right in the first ever second tier Shizuoka derby this weekend their season would undoubtedly be given a real shot in the arm. However, if the same profligacy is on display against Shimizu S-Pulse at Ecopa Stadium then the clouds of doubt would surely start to gather over the sky blue half of Shizuoka.


Nagoya rocking the Kasper

Nagoya Grampus picked up a solid three points from a difficult away assignment in the first round of the new J1 season, with Kasper Junker making an immediate impact for his new side… (日本語版)

When Kasper Junker tore in behind and stroked home his second goal after 17 minutes at Mitsuzawa Stadium, you started to get the feeling this could turn into a rout.

Yokohama FC had no answer to Nagoya Grampus’ lighting attacks in the early exchanges, and last year’s J2 runners-up looked like they had perhaps been promoted beyond their station.

As so often happens these days, however, Junker’s jubilant celebrations were drawn to an abrupt halt as referee Akihiko Ikeuchi adopted the now universally-recognised VAR-check pose, and the effort was called back, with Junker harshly adjudged to have been offside.

This lifeline enabled Yokohama to settle a little, and they kept Grampus at arm’s length until half time before making the most of the conditions in the second period to intermittently threaten themselves.

In the end they weren’t able to take anything from the game, but Nagoya goalkeeper Mitch Langerak cut something of a relieved figure at full time.

“When you play against a promoted team in the first game, away, it’s not really what you want,” he said. “We knew it was going to be tough today.

“I’m happy that we won. This was one of the more difficult games we’ll face. Because you come here where they’ll press, a lot of energy in the first game at home. It was going to be hard and thankfully we got the win, that’s all that matters.”

Kensuke Nagai was similarly pragmatic, and full of praise for the rearguard action put in by Langerak and his defenders.

“We were forced back, but the guys at the back persevered well,” the former FC Tokyo man told reporters after the game. “It’s important to win on the first day.

“The wind made things difficult in the second half, and the pitch was really dry so it was difficult to combine. In terms of things to improve, of course we wanted to get the second goal.”

Despite expressing disappointment at Grampus’ inability to add to the scoreline, Nagai was pleased that their opener – converted agilely by Junker in the fourth minute after Yokohama keeper Kengo Nagai had misjudged a Ryuji Izumi corner from the left – came from a dead-ball.

“We didn’t score many goals from set pieces last year, which was disappointing. So it’s pleasing we scored from one today, despite the lingering disappointment about not being able to get a second goal.”

This was the same point match-winner Junker made post match.

“We practice set pieces for a reason, to score goals, and we did it, so I think everybody’s happy.

“It’s a very good start to be decisive from set-pieces – and very important for me, of course, to show the team I can score the goals,” the Dane, who joined on loan from Urawa Reds ahead of the season, said of his debut strike.

“I still think I scored two goals today,” he added with a rueful smile about the attempt chalked off by the VAR. “Maybe the referee will give me one in the next game.

“Of course, if it’s 2-0 it’s a different game, more calm for us. But the three points in the opening game at this stadium – everything was very hard today, so three points is all that matters.”

Indeed, Junker learned first hand just how difficult an away fixture against a J1 newcomer could be 12 months ago.

“I think this is one of the hardest games of the season. Playing here, the first game of the J.League against the team that was promoted. I know last year Urawa played Kyoto and lost 1-0,” he said. 

“So it’s so difficult, these games. We know [Yokohama] are crazy motivated, so I think it’s very, very professional of us to come here, clean sheet, win, three points – we cannot ask for more.”

That echoed the sentiments of the equally satisfied Langerak, who feels the arrival of Junker could help Grampus, who finished a disappointing eighth last year after coming fifth in 2021, push on to challenge higher up the table this season.

“I think with Kasper it’s a huge addition for us. That’s a big signing, and somebody who’s just an out and out striker – who wants to score, that’s what he wants to do. It’s gonna help us. It takes the burden off a lot of the other guys to chip in with goals and things like that.

“I’m feeling really confident, optimistic. It’s hard to say how things will pan out, but I’m optimistic, I think we can do something.”

Junker also has high hopes for the season ahead.

“I think today we showed we are a very, very good team,” the 28-year-old said. “We have a good mentality, we work hard for each other. Amazing defence today in the last 10 minutes. People fighting hard and winning their duels. It’s not only about me, it’s also about the defence today, which was incredibly good, I think.”

Junker also expressed excitement at the potential of the intimidating front three he forms with Nagai and Mateus.

“I think it’s one of our strengths. We didn’t use it as much today as we wanted. Three good players who can do things on their own or as a combination – it’s difficult for the opponent. Of course we want to improve, but I think the three up top today worked very, very hard, which was important for the win.”

Nagai’s pace allied with Mateus’ quality in possession is sure to keep the chances coming for Junker, and with Kyoto next in his crosshairs the goal-getter had an ominous warning for the rest of J1.

“I don’t care if I score with my knee, or my foot, my shoulder – I don’t care. Just hit the goal and make sure it goes in.”


2023 J1 Season Preview

The 2023 J.League season kicks off this weekend, and ahead of the new campaign I took a look at some teams’ transfer activity to try and gauge how they could get on over the next nine months… (日本語版)

Trying to predict how teams will fare in an upcoming season is always a thankless task, particularly in the J.League.

This year is no different in that regard, especially as it has been so long since the conclusion of the 2022 campaign on account of the early finish to accommodate the World Cup in Qatar.

Ninety-eight days after Yokohama F. Marinos coasted to the J1 title away to Vissel Kobe, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo relegated Shimizu S-Pulse in a ridiculous back-and-forth game in the dome, and Yuki Soma signed off at Nagoya Grampus with a 97th-minute winner away to Cerezo Osaka we’ll have the season’s soft kick-off with the Super Cup on Saturday, as Marinos take on Ventforet Kofu – remember they won the Emperor’s Cup last year?! – before Kevin Muscat’s men get the ball rolling for real next Friday against last season’s runners-up Kawasaki Frontale.

Ahead of the new season I’ve run the rule over some of the more notable movers and shakers in the transfer market in a no-doubt foolish attempt to try and gauge who looks well-placed to challenge for the title, which teams could be improved from last year, and how some returning faces may fare back in the first division.

First of all we have to start with last year’s champions and their closest challengers, both of whom have been relatively quiet when it comes to new signings.

Marinos have seen two former J1 Players of the Year depart, with last year’s recipient Tomoki Iwata joining Ange Postecoglou’s growing collection of Japanese talent at Celtic and 2019 winner Teruhito Nakagawa moving to FC Tokyo, while Leo Ceara has signed for Cerezo Osaka and Yohei Takaoka has moved to Vancouver Whitecaps of the MLS.

In truth, none of these losses look critical to the side, with Joel Chima Fujita primed to take on a more prominent role in central midfield and Takumi Kamijima a dependable option at centre-back, Kenta Inoue and Asahi Uenaka looking like capable replacements for Nakagawa and Leo Ceara – who both blew hot and cold over the past year or so – and Powell Obinna Obi a talented understudy who could be ready to step up as No.1.

Shogo Taniguchi is the only major departure just up the road at Kawasaki, meanwhile, but the Frontale squad, which was starting to show some signs of wear and tear last year, doesn’t look to have been especially freshened up by the addition of Yusuke Segawa, Takuma Ominami, and Naoto Kamifukumoto or the return of perennial loanee Taisei Miyashiro, and this could be the year Toru Oniki’s side finally start to slip off the pace.

Snapping at their heels will be a couple of last season’s impressive performers, both of whom have had solid-looking off-seasons.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima finished third last year – albeit a hefty 13 points behind Marinos – as well as winning the Levain Cup and finishing as runners-up to Kofu in the Emperor’s Cup, and having kept last year’s team together, including their crown jewel Makoto Mitsuta, there’s nothing to suggest they won’t be just as good a proposition, if not better, in their second season under Michael Skibbe. The only notable loss is Tomoya Fujii, who has joined Kashima Antlers, although the Purple Archers coped reasonably well without him over the last quarter of last season so there shouldn’t be undue alarm at the Edion Stadium.

Things are similarly promising for Cerezo, who have bolstered their attacking options by signing the aforementioned Leo Ceara as well as acquiring the impressive Jordi Croux, bringing the talented Shota Fujio back after a solid loan at Tokushima Vortis and, of course, finally talking Shinji Kagawa into a triumphant homecoming after over a decade in Europe.

Two teams that were expected to challenge last year but ultimately failed to play to their potential were Urawa Reds and Vissel Kobe, and each head into this season after trimming their squads a fair bit over the winter.

Reds have shipped out a substantial amount of attacking quality in Kasper Junker, Yusuke Matsuo, and Ataru Esaka without any major signings in that area to replace them, and also undergone another change in the dugout, with Maciej Skorża replacing Ricardo Rodriguez. It remains to be seen whether the Pole can achieve what so many over the past 15 years have failed and finally deliver that much-desired second league crown to the Saitama giant, but he does at least have the chance of claiming some early silverware with an ACL final already set up for him.

Vissel haven’t lost any major names coming into the new campaign but have shed a fair bit of fat from their squad in the transfer window, and their rather uncharacteristic decision not to recruit any big-name foreign players – yet – and stick with the dependable Takayuki Yoshida could herald a long-overdue shift away from headline-grabbing sensationalism and into more sensible, football-oriented decision making. Could.

One team I do think might be something of a dark horse this season is Kyoto Sanga. They needed a hard-fought draw against Roasso Kumamoto in last season’s play-off to preserve their top flight status, but Cho Kwi-jae is one of the most consistent managers in recent J.League history and while they are unlikely to be challenging at the very top of the table some sharp recruitment means they could climb comfortably up the rankings in 2023. 

Patric, Kazunari Ichimi, and Kosuke Kinoshita all look capable of contributing goals in Sanga’s system, while one of J2’s most dependable creators and converters of chances in recent seasons, both from open play and set pieces, Taiki Hirato, looks an inspired capture.

Talking of J2, we should close on the two teams promoted back to the top flight after five years and one year away, respectively.

Albirex Niigata have sensibly opted for an if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-try-to-fix-it approach after storming their way to the second division title in 2022, keeping the squad almost completely intact and adding steady options for depth in Shusuke Ota and the returning Naoto Arai, and it will be interesting to see how far their momentum can take them in Rikizo Matsuhashi’s second year in charge.

Yokohama FC, on the other hand, have taken an entirely different path, and it’s a little unclear at this stage how they plan to get the most out of the huge number of players they’ve signed – especially in the attacking midfield areas, where Kazuma Takai, Shion Inoue, Koki Sakamoto, Nguyen Cong Phuong, Mizuki Arai, Hirotaka Mita, and the returning Keijiro Ogawa will all be competing with Tatsuya Hasegawa, Ryoya Yamashita, and Towa Yamane for minutes.

My first impression is that Albirex stand more of a chance of avoiding an instant return to J2 than Yokohama, but that, like most of the speculation here, could come back to haunt me as the year progresses.

Whatever happens, here’s to another great season, and may the best team win.



As a Brighton native who has spent over a decade covering the J.League, Kaoru Mitoma making global headlines on account of his recent form for an excellent Brighton and Hove Albion has been a rather strange experience… (日本語版)

That is partly because of the ease with which the former Kawasaki Frontale man has adjusted to life in the Premier League, but also because when I was growing up the Seagulls were not a very good team at all.

The club spent the majority of my childhood bouncing around the lower tiers of the English professional pyramid, and I distinctly remember that on school holidays I would attend Albion soccer schools in the park adjacent to their former home, the Goldstone Ground, at the end of which participants would be given a few complimentary tickets to upcoming games against the likes of York City and Hartlepool United in the hope that those of us supporting giants like Manchester United and Liverpool might be tempted to switch our allegiances.

Defeat in the 1990-91 Division Two (now The Championship) play-off final against Notts County was the closest the club came to the top flight of the game in my youth, and they very nearly dropped out of the professional leagues altogether in 1997, ultimately surviving by the skin of their teeth after a nail-biting 1-1 draw away to Hereford United on the final day of the season.

Despite preserving their league status, the following 15 years would bring plenty of other challenges though – predominantly on account of having to survive without a permanent home between 1997 and 2011, first being forced to ground-share with Gillingham (70 miles north of Brighton) and then needing to host games at the Withdean Stadium athletics venue for over a decade.

Since moving into their new home at the Amex in Falmer 12 years ago the club has found far surer footing though, earning promotion to the Premier League in 2017 and then steadily building upon that success in each subsequent season – which is where Mitoma comes in.

Brighton’s recent triumphs have in no small part been built upon intelligent scouting in places other clubs aren’t looking, with the former Frontale man one of many players to have blossomed after being recruited and carefully integrated into the team.

Having established himself as a regular under Roberto De Zerbi after the Italian succeeded Graham Potter as Brighton manager in September last year, Mitoma has consistently showcased the ability that Japanese and Belgian fans were treated to in recent years, seemingly not flustered at all by the fact he is now doing so on perhaps the most demanding stage in the world game.

And for all the statistical analyses and increasingly elaborate breakdowns of his contributions doing the rounds on social media, you only really need to watch Mitoma move around the pitch – both in and out of possession – to appreciate how special a talent he is.

Rarely, if ever, flustered in possession, he is incredibly economical in his use of the ball and there is absolutely no fat to his game – every touch serves a purpose, and he isn’t interested in making any that don’t somehow contribute to progressing his team’s attacks. In addition to that he is also incredibly effective with his final ball, either when teeing up a teammate or, as against Leicester City last weekend, when looking to convert a chance himself.

This was just how he performed during his season-and-a-half with Frontale – although the fact that his time in the J.League coincided with the outbreak of the Coronavirus and restrictions on spectators and media activities means that too few people were able to see or speak to him in the flesh during that period, giving it something of a dreamlike quality when considered now.

Kawasaki announced in July 2018 that the Tsukuba University prospect – who had previously been developed in the club’s academy system – would be joining their 2020 first team squad upon completion of his studies, but while the fresh-faced youngster was highly-rated after announcing himself to the Japanese football world with a sensational solo effort for Tsukuba in their Emperor’s Cup second round victory away to Vegalta Sendai in 2017, nobody expected him to make quite such an immediate impact in J1.

Little did we know.

Mitoma found the net for the first time on just his fourth league appearance – capitalising upon a mistake by Shonan Bellmare’s Hirokazu Ishihara before dispatching coolly from just inside the area 20 minutes after coming on as a replacement for Reo Hatate – and then proceeded to register almost a goal every other game as he struck 30 times in 62 matches across all competitions before departing for Brighton in August 2021.

He wasn’t quite so prolific during an initial year on loan in Belgium, but eight goals in 29 games as upstarts Royale Union Saint-Gilloise finished top of the regular season rankings was a solid return and enough to convince Brighton that he was ready, and his sparkling form since arriving on the south coast has been so good that fans don’t seem especially bothered about the departure of star forward Leandro Trossard for Arsenal. 

What is vital now is that Mitoma doesn’t rest on his laurels on account of the hype swelling around him. In a questionnaire conducted by Frontale ahead of his first season he said the thing he pays most attention to during games is ‘staying calm’ while also listing his motto as ‘practice makes perfect’, so with that and his career trajectory so far in mind it seems there is little danger of the man who spent his first pay-cheque on dinner with his parents losing his focus.

He certainly seems level-headed enough to ignore distractions and concentrate only on that which is important – much like when he is dribbling at full tilt at an opposing full-back – and if he is able to maintain his current level of performance longer term then he quite clearly has the potential to reach even greater heights – perhaps higher than any Japanese player before him.

That would sadly (for this correspondent, at least) ultimately require a move to a richer and more prestigious club than Brighton, but for now it’s fantastic to see both thriving. Long may it continue.


The kids are alright

The All-Japan High School Football tournament yet again provided a great start to the new year, with the semi-finals and final serving up three very entertaining games at Tokyo National Stadium complete with some lovely football, a few errors – which always add to entertainment levels – and more than enough drama to ring in 2023. (日本語版)

Eventual champions Okayama showed what they were made of in their semi-final against the highly-fancied Kamimura on 7 January, coming from behind twice to draw 3-3 before maintaining their composure from 12 yards to progress 4-1 after a penalty shoot-out. 

Higashiyama also needed penalties to emerge victorious from their semi-final against Ozu later the same day, drawing 1-1 and then exhibiting similar perfection as they converted all of their kicks to win 4-1 and ensure that either they or Okayama would be celebrating a first ever championship.

In some quarters Kamimura and Ozu was perhaps seen as the preferred final pairing because of their star players and pedigree, but on the balance of each 90 minutes Okayama and Higashiyama were worthy finalists. Both were better organised and more rounded teams than their opponents, with Kamimura and Ozu arguably having more talented individuals but lacking overall cohesion – something especially clear in the dichotomy between Kamimura’s slick attack and porous defence.

In Shio Fukuda Kamimura certainly possessed one of the biggest draws in the competition, and the Borussia Monchengladbach-bound striker showcased his full range of abilities on the frontline with some expert hold-up play and a keen striker’s instinct in front of goal – reacting fastest to pounce on a rebound after Okayama goalkeeper Jin Hiratsuka could only parry Reo Kinjo’s shot from the edge of the area to tie things up at 1-1 after the impressive Yuma Taguchi had given Okayama an early lead.

Fukuda went close on a couple of other occasions as well, but ultimately Kamimura paid the price for conceding three and then four minutes after scoring their second and third goals before losing their nerve and missing two of their three penalties to fall at the final hurdle.

There were fewer goals in the second semi-final, but we were treated to an absolute peach by Keita Matsuhashi, whose first touch for his 63rd-minute equaliser was exquisite and left him with the relatively simple task of tucking home from close-range.

Mizuki Sato then stepped up to the plate in the penalty shoot-out, managing to outfox the Ozu kickers without resorting to Emi Martinez levels of gamesmanship and leaving Matsuhashi with the opportunity to pace out his effort and decisively slam home to send his team into the final.

“Mizuki had made the saves, so I felt at ease before I took my kick and just made sure to hit it cleanly,” Matsuhashi said afterwards.

Two days later a moment’s silence was observed for Pele ahead of kick-off, and the Brazilian legend would have approved of plenty of the play over the subsequent 90 minutes, as both teams looked to play proactively and make things happen.

The pitch looked a bit pot-holed after being torn up by the All-Japan University Rugby Championship final on the previous day, and with that in mind Okayama got us off to a fitting start by punting the ball immediately forward from kick-off and having four players charge down their left wing to contest it (a tactic Higashiyama went on to mimic in the second half).

Both teams looked to mix things up between neat build-up play and more simple balls sent directly in behind, and Okayama drew first blood in the 25th minute when Takuto Imai’s cross was turned into his own net by Higashiyama captain Rikuto Shintani.

Higashiyama held their nerve after that blow and gradually worked their way back into the game though, and while Matsuhashi earned a reputation for his long throws during the competition he showed he has much more in his locker than that. The 18-year-old is a little reminiscent of Urawa Reds’ Ken Iwao and is a calm and classy operator in the middle of the park, getting himself out of a tight spot on the right flank at one point with a lovely Cruyff turn that instantly bought him time and space that never looked available.

He mentioned after the semi final that he had dropped into a deeper-lying position after starting his career as a more attack-minded player on account of his not scoring enough goals, and that was evidenced in the 41st minute as he got the execution all wrong on the bobbly pitch and skied high and wide to waste a promising break.

Three minutes later he showed what he can do so well, however, feeding a smart ball in behind for Keijiro Kitamura to tear onto and cut back for Renji Sanada to steer clinically home from the edge of the area and send the teams in tied at the break.

Okayama came out the sharper at the start of the second half though, and after Higashiyama left-back Yuma Nakazato set the wheels in motion for their second goal by rather carelessly heading a long ball from Hiratsuka in-field, possession was worked to the opposite flank and Kyogo Kimura – all 165cm of him – headed home clinically to make it 2-1.

In the 74th minute Higashiyama very nearly pulled level again, but despite arriving in perfect time to meet a Sanada cross and beating Hiratsuka Reiya Sakata saw his header cannon back off the bar, and having survived that scare Okayama wrapped up the win with five minutes to play as Kimura again found space in the box to steer home and seal the title for his school.

Almost every player in blue and black dropped to the turf as the ecstasy and exhaustion overcame them at full time, with match-winner Kimura going on to say he is hoping to turn professional one day. On the basis of this year’s competition, he and several others certainly have bright futures ahead of them.

Receive an email each time I post something new and/or interesting by...

Join 41 other subscribers

Back Catalogue

what day is it?

June 2023