Takafumi Kido strikes back and wins Japan 2022 Winter Tournament in style

Takafumi Kido ended the 2022 Japan FISTF season with a big win taking out long time rival, Japan team Leader and mentor Kenzo Koi in a thrilling final 2-1.
The final FISTF tournament of the Japan 2022 calendar kicked off on a cold but sunny December 4th Sunday. 12 players eagerly assembled on a cold winter morning to see who would take home first place and end the season on a high note, the occasion was met with a positive spirit of friendship, enthusiasm and fair-play by all there. We also saw the return to action of Tomoyoshi Ikeya who had been away for two years during the COVID pandemic, as well as new players joining the tournament, Hiroyuki Okada and Hidenori Nakai.

The first games of the day started as in group 1 as Yohei Gomi put up a solid fight going down to Takafumi Kido 3-0,
Hidenori losing a close battle with Taichi 1-0 in group 2, Kenzo using his game with Hiroyuki as a training and teaching game winning 7-1 in group 3,
Hiroyuki showing promising potential in scoring a goal in his first tournament. Kazuki Okano taking the win against the returning Tomoyoshi Ikeya in a very close 2-1 victory in group 4.


The second round saw Takafumi Tokita edge out Yohei 2-0 in a strong challenge by constantly improving Yohei, Suguru also returning to form after missing the last tournament due to COVID was back in strong fashion displaying his fast trademark counter play style and precision shooting taking new comer Hidenori Nakai down by 5-0, another player who had skipped out on the last tournament was also back in action as Tomoyuki got past Hiroyuki by a 1goal margin winning 1-0, Tomoyoshi was now finding his form in his second group game falling behind 1-0 at half time before scrambling late to pull off a 11 draw with Andrew Martini who had also just returned to the game in the last tournament after a year and half absence.


The final round of group games is where things really started to get interesting as we saw several revenge matches and group leader tussles. The two Takafumis met in Group 1’s decider with Takafumi Kido just able to take down T. Tokita by 1-0, in yet another very close match with T. Kido displaying fine angle control and possession dominance. T. Tokita pushed T. Kido hard throughout and was close to equalizing before T. Kido shut down the game through his ability to slow the pace down and maintain control. Group 2 saw the Autumn tournament winner Taichi take on Multi tournament winner Suguru. The match was played at at fast pace with possession see sawing throughout both halves, neither player though was able to assert dominance and the result saw the spoils shared as the final result ended as a 1-1 draw. Group 3 saw veteran and the most tournament experienced player Kenzo Koi being taken on by Tomoyuki, The game saw fine tactical play by Tomoyuki against precision shot master Kenzo Koi. Kenzo opening up the scoreline by skillfully prying open Tomoyuki carefully planned defense with impeccable finishing, the match continued with Tomoyuki slowing the pace down considerably which thwarted Kenzo’s opportunities to add to his lead, Kenzo Koi ended the match with his second goal winning 2-0.
The final group match in group 4 saw the Autumn tournament shared 3rd place winners Andrew Martini and Kazuki Okano play off to settle who would have won if they had faced off in the Autumn tournament and also see which player would take the group in 1st place.
Kazuki began in very speedy fashion racing down the right wing, but Andrew was able to scramble and cut off Kazuki’s attack with fine defensive block flicking.
This was a very interesting game that produced several good scoring opportunities for both players, Andrew pressing fast and precisely on a counter saw him take a 1-0 lead at half time.
The second half began like the first with both players creating fine scoring opportunities. However, good defensive goal keeping from both players saw the score remain at 1-0, till 3 minutes from time when Kazuki managed to break through the centre of Andrew’s defence and drill in a powerful equalizer, resulting in a well deserved 1-1 draw for both players.

The Plate semi finals were now played with Tomoyoshi finding scoring form taking Yohei down by 40, the game was closer than the scoreline suggests as Yohei ( to be commended for his creativity)did try a few fancy techniques that unfortunately did not quite pan out, 1 resulting in an own goal and a second resulting in him losing his keeper for 5 flicks in which Tomoyoshi skillfully capitalized on. Hidenori and Hiroyuki played a fun and chess match style of game, both created scoring chances but did not have the ability to finish and they could not be separated at the end of full-time and extra time, Hidenori winning 2-0 in the shootout.
The Plate final saw Hidenori give Tomoyoshi a hard battle in an even paced deliberate careful play style with neither player wanting to give the other any easy opportunities. As the game wore on Tomoyoshi’s experience started to show as his fine touches when it mattered saw him take home the plate with a solid well played 2-0 victory! We look forward to seeing Yohei, Hidenori, Hiroyuki and Tomoyoshi again in 2023 next tournament!

Now we move on to the Winter tournaments last 8 quarterfinal games.
Which started with a revenge match between Kazuki and Taichi, Taichi had defeated Kazuki in a high scoring 4-2 game in the Autumn tournament semifinal just over a month ago, and Kazuki was very eager to dish out some revenge, Taichi though for his part was confident he could go all the way and looked forward to this replay as well. The match saw Kazuki displaying solid attacking aggression and thwarting Taichis fast long range through balls with equally masterful defense, Taichi being a very creative player was changing the tempo up and switching play from one side of the field to another, however Kazuki put on a solid technical performance that thwarted all of Taichi’s attacks, both players did have equal chances to pull ahead with shots grazing the posts and both missing open goal opportunities in both halves. The match ended 0-0 in regular time, as Sudden death commenced Taichi lifted his game and played with more urgency, Kazuki in a lapse of concentration didn’t pick up on a Taichi flick that settled a player on the edge of the shooting line and on his next flick connected with a well placed through ball which gave him full view of the goal, Taichi put an end to a very much improved Kazuki challenge edging through 1-0 and entering the semifinal to face the winner of The Takafumi kido vs Tomoyuki match.

The second last quarterfinal was between returnee Tomoyuki and Japan top seed Takafumi Kido, This game saw Takafumi lift his game considerably with fast flicking as well as controlled possession, Tomoyuki’s careful style could not keep up with Takafumis faster pace and although Tomoyuki put up considerable resistance it was clear that Takafumi would not let any opportunity go by, he upped the ante and slotted home for a consistent safe 3-0 victory. Takafumi was lined up to face Autumn Tournament winner Taichi in the semifinal to decide who walk enter the final a match up worthy of a final.

The 3rd quarterfinal game saw Kenzo deliver a goal scoring masterclass, Takafumi missed several flicks in precarious situations and Kenzo gave no mercy as he zeroed in consistently and delivered kill shot after kill shot, Kenzo is well known for his uncanny precision in the penalty area and he rarely misses. As the game wore on Takafumi had a few good scoring chances, securing one, however Kenzo put on another solid performance and put the game well and truly away by half time, the score ending in a thumping 8-1 victory for Kenzo.

The 4th Quarterfinal game saw multi tournament winner Suguru face off against a tenacious steadily improving Andrew Martini, the last 2 times these players met Suguru won 4-0 in December 202 in Andrews first attempt at the game and 3-0 in January 2021 tournament. However Suguru knew he would be facing a very different Andrew this time around, Andrew having upset top seed Takafumi kido 1-0 in the Autumn tournament and just being edged out 1-0 in the semifinal against Kenzo Koi looked forward to this revenge match. The game set off at a fast pace with Suguru taking an attacking approach and Andrew content to play defensively in order to match Sugurus counter style. Both players again had chances to take the lead however good defense and tight angles meant scoring would not eventuate. The game took on a more back and forth tempo as time wore on and Suguru became more and more frustrated with Andrews solid goal keeping which saw the usually precise Suguru unable to break the scoreline, Suguru survived a late surge by Andrew just before half time with Andrew fluffing his shot in the final seconds. The second half was more like a chess match with neither player able to create many scoring opportunities until the final 2 minutes when Suguru went on a surge that didn’t amount to anything. The game ended in a hard fought 0-0 draw. Sudden death saw Andrew switch to a full on attack style which almost caught Suguru, on the back foot Suguru pull off a fine save from almost point blank range. Suguru in return had his shot placed just wide of the left post and the game now headed in to the final 30 seconds, would we see a shootout? Not to be as a powerful shot from Suguru was repelled by Andrews Keeper, the referee in error awarded Andrew A flick in, however Andrew corrected the ref and pointed out that his keeper had deflected the ball and possession was to be Suguru’s.From this position Suguru Masterfully sent a through ball down to the right of the shooting line and flicked in his trademark angled chip shot over the keeper and into the far left corner. Both players congratulated each other in what was a good match played in good spirit. Suguru reached the semi’s after a well fought grueling match, he would face off against high scoring and in form Kenzo Koi in a much anticipated face off to get into the final.

Semi final 1 saw Takafumi square off against Taichi, both players have contrasting styles of play with Taichi creative style and Takafumis high possession game, this was a game of nerves and Takafumi allowed Taichi too much time to build up and angle his play in zig zag fashion through the field, quick passing and a cheeky flick saw Taichi take the lead. Takafumi managed to regain composure though and as the game wore on he began peppering Taichis goal, eventually equalling from a fine set piece. Now the score was level and with time running out both players threw caution to the wind, Taichi came close to taking the lead again, but left himself over for a counter, a long spell of controlled possession play by Takafumi gave him the option to open two avenues of approach into Taichis penalty area, taichi masterfully cut off one avenue, but did not pick up on Takafumis intent to race down the left and switch over to the right in time, Takafumi pounced with a precise shot that resulted in him taking the lead. A late scramble by Taichi was to no avail as Takafumi ran down the clock and claimed a 2-1 victory. Takafumi was in to the Final!

SEMI-FINAL #2 KENZO KOI -0 SUGURU -0 ( 0-0 EX ) ( 3-1 SO)
Semi final 2 saw a slightly tired Suguru face a fresher Kenzo, the match began cautiously both employing tight defense flicking and did not allow each other much room for opportunities, Kenzo enjoyed the majority of possession for the first 3 minutes before Suguru regained control yet could not find the back of the net. Kenzo came closest to scoring in the 11th minute as he continued employing fine touch close range possession passing which allowed him to turn Sugurus defense on the right flank, yet a miss flick at the final moment had possession change over and Suguru masterfully cleared and began a counter along the left wing. Kenzo managed to box Suguru in the left corner which did not allow any margin for error for Suguru, the resulting flick shot went sailing over the crossbar and Possession changed.The pace increased into a frenzy but neither could gain any clear advantage and they went into half time locked at 0-0 . the second half saw a lot of play in the middle of the pitch with neither player able to gain a clear advantage. Locked at 0-0 the game entered EX time, both halves again saw plenty of action with Suguru first sending a shot that grazed the crossbar, then Kenzo a minute later deflecting a shot off the left post. The two jostled for the remainder of Extra time but were unable to put the game away. Shoot out time! This was Kenzo’s specialty, Shoot out were something Kenzo has experienced a lot of throughout the years yet it was Suguru that struck first taking a 1-0 lead. As the shots were positioned closer and closer to the middle line Kenzo found his form and placed 1-23 successive shots into goal, unfortunately for Suguru, his aim was not as precise on the Day and Kenzo took home the win 3-1 to go through to the final. Kenzo progressed to yet another final for an exciting showdown with his arch rival Takafumi Kido!

The game saw the two long time rivals and multiple tournament Winners facing off, Takafumi had stated before the tournament Makenai! I will never give up and I will not lose! Kenzo came into the tournament as one of the clear favorites with his consistent performances over the last few tournaments. The game began with Kenzo threatening Takafumi’s left flank however a miss flick saw possession change and Takafumi sent a long diagonal through ball from the right wing to the left which opened up Kenzo’s right defense, then a miss flick on the shooting line allowed Kenzo to reposition and speedily counter in almost identical fashion, he split open Takafumis left defense and was in clear line for what seemed to be an easy shot at Takafumi’s goal, yet nerves got the better of Kenzo and he miss flicked, letting Takafumi off the hook. There were several quick exchanges marked by uncharacteristic miss flicks by both which kept the game see-sawing unexpectedly until Kenzo again threatened the Left of Takafumis goal by sending in a subtly flicked short pass into the penalty area leaving Takafumi’s defense exposed, again though a very easy shot was miss flicked by Kenzo allowing Takafumi to get off the hook. At the 4 min 30 sec mark Kenzo again opened up Takafumi’s defense this time driving deep into the right of the penalty area and sending the ball closer to the middle of the goal, a medium drive flick saw Kenzo artfully chip the ball into the net, 1-0 KENZO! However at the 13th minute from an almost identical situation this time it was Takafumi that threatened Kenzo’s goal, Kenzo was late in covering the hole and Takafumi sent a brilliant chip shot into the far right corner of the net…KENZO-1 TAKAFUMI -1, what an equalizer! The second half saw a strategic change on Takafumi’s part, with close quarter marking of man and zones that gave Kenzo greater difficulty when trying to penetrate into Takafumi’s well guarded penalty area, in fact Takafumi constantly shadowed Kenzo so much so , that on several occasions Kenzo had no choice but to give up ground and pass backwards in order to maintain possession. In the 19th minute Kenzo almost got the breakthrough he needed, setting up another perfect short range through ball, 1 flick away from a clear shot only to see Takafumi precisely flick a defensive player in front of the ball shutting down the angle completely. The situation repeated itself again in the 20th minute, this time Kenzo had time for a shot, but flicked the ball directly onto Takafumi’s keeper and it was harmlessly guided away. The 24th minute saw Kenzo counter off of Takafumi’s missed flicked and he sent a powerful shot from a difficult angle which Takafumi parried for a corner. The 27th minute saw Takafumi send a long ball down the middle of the field and he won a foul just on the shooting line, however solid defensive position by Kenzo meant a desperate long range flick from Takafumi resulted him into smashing into his own figure and losing possession. With one minute remaining Takafumi regained possession and went off zigzagging down the pitch to try and confuse and pull Kenzo out of position, this ploy succeeded in enabling Takafumi to penetrate into the shooting area down into the right side of the pitch, with 30 seconds left on the clock Kenzo’s defensive line had virtually evaporated by Takafumi’s strategic maneuvering, He sent a powerful chip shot over the keeper and into the left corner of the Net…GOAAAAAL! 2-1 Takafumi. With little time left Kenzo fiercely counter attacked from the kick off and almost pulled back an equalizer however the angle was at the extreme edge and Takafumi’s keeper had it covered parrying the shot for a throw in…From there on in Takafumi hung on to claim the Title in an exciting match the see sawed with action throughout the 30 minutes.

FINAL COMMENTARY This tournament was one of the best all year both in terms in quality of play as well as the amicable good positive spirit that it was played in by all who took part. Another Chapter is turning for NOSK Japan as it has unveiled a positive strategy for promotion and growth of the sport in 2023. This means that NOSK will no longer be headquartered in Hinodecho , and will focus more on holding events in the Saitama region, new tables and equipment are on the way to being implemented. We also saw the addition of a new club in this tournament expanding the number of teams registered with NOSK, Andrew Martini registered his new Club “Saitama Subbuteo TFC’’, which promises to further support NOSK to grow and spread throughout Saitama and the Northern Japan region. All in all one chapter closes for Nosk at the Hinodecho site and yet another big opportunity and door opens as NOSK continues to grow and expand …NOSK looks forward to bringing many more Fistf tournaments on a larger scale in the near