The preseason match between Mito and Kashima, one of the stronger teams in the first division, took place Sunday on a sunny yet bitterly cold day. Almost 9000 people attended the match, with perhaps 60% of them being Kashima fans.
Kashima won this match by scoring four goals to Mito's zero.
Both teams fielded a mixture of starting and bench players and took many risks. The game was scoreless until the middle of the first half, after which three more goals were scored over the next thirty minutes.
Both teams then substituted many players to give playing time. Following this, Mito fared much better. The defense clicked a bit more and the addition of Edinaldo provided some excitement to the match. Although none of them could be converted into goals, many chances were created using a style of offense Mito had not previously displayed. It is certainly debatable, but in my opinion the last thirty minutes showed that Mito could hold its own in the first division if fielding the right players and if not in a practice game atmosphere.
It is also important to note that this game marked the debut of Brazilian player Marquinhos for Kashima. He is very impressive and I predict that he could be in the running for an MIP award this year.
All of the Mito supporters were proud to host the game and the Kashima fans. Despite the result, Mito fans were ecstatic to be back in the stadium after a three month off season.