Ange Postecoglou branded his team’s display as “terrible” and promised to improve after Yokohama F.Marinos suffered a 2-0 loss to Kawasaki Frontale on the opening day of the J.League season.
Two first-half goals from the impressive Akihiro Ienaga, the second a diving header at the near post after another fluid Frontale move, deservedly gave title-holders Kawasaki the points in the Kanagawa Derby which was also a meeting between the 2019 and 2020 champions.
Postecoglou admitted that Yokohama, who finished ninth in 2020, have work to do if they are going to challenge the runaway champions from last year. In the first half, Kawasaki had the opportunities to put the game to bed and cut through the Yokohama backline almost at will.
The former Socceroo boss told Japanese television that the performance was terrible and went on to expand on his feelings in the post-match press conference.
“This wasn’t a good game at all,” Postecoglou said. “We were lucky that it was just 2-0 in the first half. We couldn’t play our football and we were totally dominated by a much better team. We can’t play like that, we can’t play with that mentality and be successful. We need to improve and we will improve.”
There were some bright spots for the 2019 champions who did cause Kawasaki some problems at the back especially after the break. Also encouraging was the display from Powell Obinna Obi. There had been some concerns about Yokohama’s goalkeepers but the 23-year-old, who spent last season on loan to Tochigi in the second tier, staked his claim for the number one spot.
“He had a strong first half, which he had to because it would have been embarrassing for us,” Postecoglou said. He’s developing all the time, he’s someone we want to invest in. With young goalkeepers, you understand there’s going to be ups and downs. Today he was one of the few who could hold his head up high.”
Fans were also happy with the professional debut of teenager Ryonosuke Kabayama. The 18-year-old recently joined Yokohama from Kokoku High School and from the left side, posed a threat with his dribbling skills.
“Although he is young, he seized the opportunity,” said Postecoglou. “ He has a lot of potential and I'm looking forward to seeing his growth.”
Postecoglou and his men have a quick chance to bounce back in the J.league Cup on Wednesday against Vegalta Sendai The league continues on Sunday when Sanfrecce Hiroshima come to town.
Adam Taggart has been unable to enter the country due to travel restrictions and without the Socceroo striker, new club Cerezo Osaka defeated ten-man Kashiwa Reysol 2-0 with veteran Yoshito Okubu opening the scoring before the break and Tatsuhiro Sakamoto sealing the win late on.
Thomas Deng was also absent from Urawa Reds 1-1 draw against FC Tokyo while Mitch Langerak and Nagoya Grampus are in action in Sunday's sole fixture against Avispa Fukuoka. Elsewhere, Peter Cklamovski's former team Shimizu S-Pulse picked up a surprise 3-1 win at title hopefuls Kashima Antlers.