Postecoglou's bizarre potential finale ahead of reported Celtic move; goalkeeper scores
Say what you like about potential Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou, but he’s nothing if not entertaining.
Albeit, this time, it wasn’t meant to be entertaining. Not really, anyway. Against fourth tier outfit Honda FC, the Marinos struggled in somewhat bizarre circumstances.
In the Emperor’s Cup [JFA], Marinos and Postecoglou probably couldn’t have asked for an easier draw. Heavily rotating his squad, though, Postecoglou got a shock in the 28th minute. Of all players, it was Honda’s goalkeeper Yuki Kusumoto who opened the scoring from the penalty spot.
Marinos then started to get more of a foothold, but it was a shock scoreline as the players went back in for half-time. The former Australia boss brought on a litany of customary starters [via Dan Orlowitz], and were rewarded instantly. Elber, not the one who used to play for Bayern Munich, levelled the tie on the 67th minute mark (it has to mean something).
So far, so strange.
Oddly enough, a number of top J-League teams were being taken to extra time by lesser opposition. Postecoglou’s Marinos were no exception. Despite late pressure, with a corner in the 93rd minute and some crossing opportunities, Honda steered Marinos into an extra half-hour.
Eventually, quality showed. Marinos took a 2-1 lead in the 103rd minute, with Leo Ceare putting the former J-League champions ahead. But then, more drama: the fourth tier outfit equalised. Penalties were on their way.
A bizarre game of football
For the J-League’s third-placed side, with 4 games in hand [Goal], this wasn’t meant to happen. And as penalties became inevitable, Postecoglou’s severe rotation of his squad began to look like a massive risk.
Again, for emphasis, nobody fancied Honda FC coming into this one. The Japanese Football League, a mix of professional and amateur outfits, features teams associated with large companies, as well as University sides. So, if you like, it’s a bit like Celtic being taken to extra time by Forres Mechanics.
So, penalties, then. And given their confidence from having scored twice, the pressure wasn’t on Honda. That showed, with Yokohama F Marinos missing their first spot kick.
Honda made no such mistake, and the penalties ended 5-3 to the fourth-tier side. It’s not the most encouraging sign for Celtic supporters, and it’ll be fascinating to see what impact that has over the next few days.
Ouch, though. Not good.
Marinos remain tight-lipped over Ange Postecoglou to Celtic rumours
As my colleague David Walton wrote earlier, the senior figures at the Yokohama Football Association have worked to keep information about the Celtic job at a minimum. Much like our board, you could say.
According to Japanese football journalist Dan Orlowitz, the football media culture is very different for J-League clubs. Typically, only questions about the match itself, and perhaps the league more broadly, are allowed. Journalists from outside Japan are not permitted to join press conferences. It’s disappointing for Celtic supporters, but if that’s the way it is then there’s little we can do to affect that.
Surely, though, Postecoglou will have to address the Celtic talk head-on before too long.