Monday, March 2, 2009

J1 2009 preview: Oita Trinita

Stadium: Oita Big Eye (43,000)
Average attendance 2008: 20,322
Last season's finish: 4th

2009 season's transfers:
DF Shusuke Tsubouchi (On loan from Vissel Kobe)
MF Takashi Umeda (Returned from F.C. Gifu)
MF Masashi Miyazawa (Returned from Vegalta Sendai)
MF Keigo Higashi (Promoted from youth team)
FW Yasuhito Morishima (Transferred from Cerezo Osaka)
FW Shunsuke Maeda (Transferred from Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
FW Takahiko Sumida (Drafted from Sakai High School)
DF Ryo Kobayashi (End of loan from Kashiwa Reysol)
FW Hiroshi Ichihara (On loan to Sagan Tosu)
FW Masaru Matsuhashi (On loan to Ventforet Kofu)
DF Tetsuya Yamazaki (Retired)
GK Masaharu Kawahara (Transferred to Kamatamare Sanuki)
DF Yohei Fukumoto (On loan to JEF United Ichihara Chiba)
DF Yuichi Shibakoya (On loan to Ehime F.C.)
DF Yuichi Nemoto (Released)DF Takashi Kuramoto (Released)
MF Yoshihiro Uchimura (Transferred to Ehime F.C.)
MF Kazuhiro Kawata (Released)
FW Kohei Nishino (On loan to Fagiano Okayama F.C.)

My view on the transfers:
Oita hasn't lost any of any significance in the off-season, but hasn't really brought in any big names either. They've extended the loan deal of MF Ienaga from Gamba, as well as made FW Morishima's move permanent from Cerezo. A couple of other acquisitions, but mainly players that will be used in back-up.

Preferrable starting line-up:
4-4-2: Nishikawa - Uemoto, Fukaya, Morishige, Fujita - Ienaga, Kanazawa, Suzuki, Edmilson / Roberto - Ueslei, Takamatsu / Morishima

My view on the team:
Oita looks very strong in defence, and probably has one of the best defensive lineups in the league, if not the best. Nishikawa is a great shot-stopper, and Fukaya / Morishige forms a solid central-defence while Uemoto and Fujita both are important contributors to the team. In midfield, Oita has a new dimension in Ienaga, as the technically gifted midfielder lost all of 2008 due to an injury. Kanazawa is the main threat though, and will try to build further on from his magnificent 2008-season. Up front the aging Ueslei will once again be in focus, with Takamatsu, Morishima and Takahashi alternating for the 2nd role. The team could do well with a bigger squad though.

Player to watch: Mu Kanazawa

Manager: Pericles Chamusca:
Chamuscha has done wonders with a rather grey team, and the fact that he almost led them to the title last year tells that he's a great coach. Very defensive in his strategy, but as long as the points keeps ending up in Oita the fans doesn't complain.

Oita has a rather big fanbase, and they averaged over 20 000 last season. They got a very nice stadium with a good atmosphere, and the loud home-fans were without a doubt one of the reasons why The Big Eye were turned into a fortress last season.

Where will they finish:A repeat of the fairytale-season Oita had in 2008 is unlikely, but Chamusca has a nice bunch of players to work with, and Oita will be a tough team to beat this year as well. I don't think they have what it takes to fight for a top 5 finish though, but an upper-half finish wouldn't be surprising.

7th - 11th


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