February 26, 2017
Tokushima Vortis started the season in the best possible way with a 1-0 victory against Tokyo Verdy. A match that was a small Spanish derby, with two Spanish coaches on the benches: Ricardo Rodríguez for Tokushima Vortis and Miguel Ángel Lotina for Tokyo Verdy. More than 6,000 fans gathered together at Pocari Sweat Stadium of Verdy to receive the new season.
Tokushima Vortis confirmed in this first match of the Japan League 2 all the good vibrations they had shown during preseason (three wins in the last three games). An orderly and aggressive team, as his coach Ricardo Rodríguez wants. Bases necessary to make the blue team return to the front line of Japanese soccer.
The Spanish coach chose to start with the consolidated eleven during the preseason games, with Yuji Kajikawa as goalkeeper, defence of three (Kotaro Fujiwara, Hidenori Ishii and Vasiljevic), midfield with five players (Rikuto Hirose, Carlinhos, Ken Iwao, Kazuaki Mawatari, Taiga Maekawa) and two forwards (Taro Sugimoto and Daiki Watari). The objective was to control the game from ball possession, faithful to the philosophy that Ricardo Rodriguez has pursued since his arrival in Japan.
Based on that idea Tokushima Vortis began to forge the first victory of the year. The first goal, and at the end decisive, came in the 26th minute of the game, by striker Sugimoto after a spectacular action of Mawatari in the left wing, where he dribbled his mark and assisted perfectly for Sugimoto. The goal gave greater calm and dominance of the match to the local side. Ricardo Rodriguez knew Miguel Ángel Lotina well, a factor, without a doubt, key to neutralize the style of play of Tokyo Verdy in the first half. The visiting team ended the first forty-five minutes without a shot on goal. Perfect in defence, the local team did not settle for the 1-0, getting close to scoring the second goal in a double good chance by Yamakasi and Hirose.
Leading the game, Tokushima Vortis tried to refresh his game with the substitutions made during the second half, when Tokyo Verdy stretched their lines in search for the tie. The first substitution was Akihiro Sato for Watari close to the 60th minute of the match. Whereas Verdy did not create any chances during the first half, in the second half they shot on Kajikawa’s goal five times.
Ricardo Rodriguez tried to change this dynamic with the entry of new players into the pitch during the final minutes of play: Ryogo Yamasaki for Taiga Maekawa in the 70th minute and Junya Osaki for scorer Sugimoto in the 82nd minute.
This formula worked for Tokushima Vortis, who managed to hold the 1-0 on the scoreboard to close the first match of the Japan League 2 with the three points. The perception, even though the team is still under construction, was very good, in particular regarding the order of the team. Although it is only the first matchday, Vortis is already placed within the top positions of the table, where the leader is Nagasaki after winning 4-0 over Gunna. Tokushima Vortis plays the next game against Kyoto, that this first day was defeated by 1-2 against Yamagata.