31 July 2014 16:03
Katsumi Oenoki will hope to begin his Shimizu S-Pulse reign with victory over Tokyo on Saturday.
The 49-year-old was announced as the replacement for Afshin Ghotbi on Wednesday after the Iranian’s thee-and-a-half year tenure failed to produce a finish higher than ninth.
Oenoki has been promoted from the youth team and wants to revive the fortunes of S-Pulse, starting with this Saturday’s trip to the capital.
Sitting 12th in the J. League, S-Pulse ended a run of seven games without a win thanks to a 3-0 victory over Kashiwa Reysol last time out, and Oenoki believes there are not many changes needed to make it two wins in a row at the Ajinomoto Stadium.
“I want to revive the strong S-Pulse,” Oenoki said. “The win against Kashiwa was very big.
“There is not a big difference between the teams at the top, and we have the opportunity to go on.”
In-form Tokyo will provide a stern opening test for the new coach, though, having climbed into seventh position with an unbeaten run of five games.
Like Tokyo, league leaders Urawa Reds are in a rich vein of form and have not lost any of their previous eight to open up a two-point advantage at the top.
Vissel Kobe, who sit sixth, are their opponents this weekend while their rivals at the summit have what, on paper, appear to be comfortable fixtures.
Second-placed Sagan Tosu host strugglers Nagoya Grampus, while Kawasaki Frontale, who are three points behind Urawa in third, face Kashiwa.
Hoping all of the top three slip up are Kashima Antlers and champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, who are positioned fourth and fifth respectively. Both sides are locked on 27 points from their opening 17 matches and face each other in Kashima this weekend.
Bottom club Tokushima Vortis, fresh from collecting their second win of the season last weekend, can record a double over Ventforet Kofu this weekend.
Yuya Hashiuchi was the man to give Tokushima their maiden top-flight win in April’s reverse fixture, and a repeat of that result would see them narrow the gap at the bottom.
Kofu, who are also in the relegation zone, have a 10-point cushion over their hosts and could climb out of the bottom three with victory.
They will need Cerezo Osaka to continue an eight-game winless run against Albirex Niigata to move up the table, while fellow strugglers Omiya Ardija travel to Vegalta Sendai.
Meanwhile, in mid-table, Gamba Osaka host Yokohama F. Marinos with just a point separating the sides.