Antler hearts with earthquake victims
It was a win that kick-started their AFC Champions League campaign but in the big scheme of things Kashima Antlers easy 3-0 win over Sydney FC will do little to ease the pain of the tragic earthquake and tsunami disaster that hit Japan.
In football terms it was a win that kick-started their AFC Champions League campaign but in the big scheme of things Kashima Antlers easy 3-0 win over Sydney FC on Wednesday night will do little to ease the pain and devastation from the tragic earthquake and tsunami disaster that hit Japan.
That was the sobering message from Kashima coach Oswaldo de Olivera after his side picked up their first win since the tragedy hit their country on March 11.
While delighted with his side's professional performance against an injury-depleted Sky Blues, de Olivera conceded it would take more than a win on a football pitch to help rebuild the shattered nation.
"The players feel the problem over there but this problem is too big," the Antlers boss said.
"A simple victory will not change anything."
"We came to do our job, we're are professional but our heart is still very weak about what's happened in our country."
"We've had a very hard time in Japan, especially in our province, because it's very close to Fukushima," de Olivera said.
"Everyone is worried about the players and their families. That's why we came early here try to be separated and try to not allow the problem to interfere in our performance."
And it didn't have any effect on how Kashima played as they simply out-classed the home side for a simple victory which puts them in the box seat to qualify for the knockout phase.
After a dour start to the match, Kashima were sent on their way to victory just before half-time with a goal to impressive midfielder Takuya Nozawa.
Further goals to Brazilian Gabriel and striker Kohrogi Shinzoh in the second half completed the rout to send the Antlers into a share of top spot in Group H.
De Olivera conceded the the absence of Sydney's injured stars Nicky Carle, Sebastian Ryall and David Williams, as well as suspended skipper Terry McFlynn, was a factor in the game.
"The result is always welcome but Sydney missed four important players before the match," he said.
"And just after the start of the game the centre back (Stephan Keller) was also injured so this gave some facility to Kashima to control the game and win the game."