13
Mar
21

Shi-on the edge

Shion Homma is one of J2’s most highly-rated talents, and while his tackling sometimes leaves a bit to be desired he shouldn’t be asked to eliminate the spikiness from his game… (日本語版)

As Takumi Nagura wriggled free in midfield and looked set to spark a dangerous attack, you could just see what Shion Homma was about to do.

Having made up four of the five yards between himself and the V-Varen Nagasaki forward, Homma realised he wasn’t going to close the rest of out in time to get to the ball before Nagura released it and so opted instead to launch unceremoniously into the back of him. It was more cynical than malicious, but after allowing play to continue referee Futoshi Nakamura unsurprisingly called Homma over and issued a yellow card.

The Albirex Niigata number 10 looked a little relieved that was the extent of his punishment, but it would ultimately only prove to be a stay of execution and after failing to heed the warning he was handed his marching orders 12 minutes into the second half after another rash challenge.

This was also one you could see coming before the event, and after enthusiastically bounding back to slide in and stop Seiya Maikuma from breaking down the right flank and then getting his head to Maikuma’s attempted pass down the wing Homma’s exuberance got the better of him as he flew foolishly into Round 3 with Maikuma with a high boot and his studs showing.

Truth be told, this challenge was probably worthy of a straight red card on its own, although Albirex manager Albert Puig, in close attendance on the touchline and no more than 10 yards away from the incident, wasn’t in agreement and gestured furiously at Nakamura after seeing his team reduced to 10 men.

“Football is a spectacle,” Puig said in his press conference after the game. “Supporters pay money to come and get their fill of football, and I think therefore we have to protect technically gifted players like Shion. With that in mind, I think there is certainly room for discussion about his second yellow card today.”

It’s not especially surprising that Puig would publicly leap to the defence of his boy wonder, but privately he will surely have accepted that a sending off was the correct decision. Despite his tender years this is already the second time Homma has been sent off in J2, and he was also forced to take an early bath against Renofa Yamaguchi last season after receiving a second yellow card for a similarly reckless lunge into Hikaru Manabe when he had very little chance of winning the ball.

Bearing that in mind, Puig may even have taken Homma aside and had a quiet word in his ear about looking to curb that side of his game a little – although personally I hope not.

At 164cm and 59 kilograms Homma is far from an imposing specimen, but the fact that the 20 year old doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game is part of what sets him apart from so many of his peers. What he can do with a ball is of course the main reason he is developing into one of the most sought after players in the J.League, but that extra edge to his play when not in possession is what could see him develop into a truly top class talent.

His Albirex teammates will of course hope his rushes of blood to the head don’t leave them a man short too often, but his red card against Varen may actually be looked back on as a blessing in disguise as the season progresses. A man down against the team that only just missed out on promotion last year Albirex were forced to show real resilience for the final half an hour, and the fact they were able to see out their 1-0 win in those circumstances should only add to the team’s belief as they aim to return to the top flight.

“I just said to the players that the reason they were able to defend even with a player less was because this team is firmly united,” Puig said. “I think if we had continued to play 11 v. 11 in the second half then those watching would have been able to enjoy our play even more. In that sense, the sending off was a real shame.”

Of that there can of course be little argument, and for Albirex fans and neutrals alike games will always be more enjoyable with players of Homma’s quality on the pitch. We shouldn’t forget that possession of a certain edge is often what enables them to perform at such high levels though, and Homma shouldn’t be asked to blunt his if we want him to reach his full potential.


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