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Friday, May 7, 2010

Stojkovic criticizes players after loss to Reds

Staff writer

SAITAMA — Nagoya Grampus manager Dragan Stojkovic blasted his team's "lack of intelligence" after letting a halftime lead slip in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat to Urawa Reds, holding himself up as the model for his players to aspire to.

News photo
Line of fire: Urawa's Genki Haraguchi shoots as Nagoya's Takahiro Masukawa defends in J. League action on Wednesday at Saitama Stadium. Reds won 2-1. KYODO PHOTO

Stojkovic, one of the world's best midfielders during his 1990s heyday, could do nothing but watch as Yosuke Kashiwagi and Genki Haraguchi canceled out Josh Kennedy's 13th-minute opener at Saitama Stadium, leaving the Serbian frustrated that excellence does not come as naturally to his players as it once did to him.

"We were not intelligent," Stojkovic said. "This is the problem. I don't want to talk about names but definitely we don't have a player like me.

"I'm joking, but it's very difficult to believe when you have a bad start to the second half like this after leading. When you have intelligence the ball moves, not the players."

Kashiwagi kick-started Urawa's revival in the 48th minute with his first goal for the club, profiting from a mixup among an unfamiliar Nagoya defense missing former Reds favorite Marcus Tulio Tanaka through suspension.

"I saw two different halves," said Stojkovic. "In the first, we dominated completely and gave a real lesson to Reds. We led 1-0 and then in the second half I saw my team stop playing. In one moment with a big defensive mistake we practically gave the win to Reds. This is football."

An injury that forced striker Keiji Tamada to be replaced at halftime added to Nagoya's problems, but Stojkovic declined to look for excuses.

"Before this game Tulio was out, Magnum was out, (Mu) Kanazaki was out and now unfortunately Tamada too," he said. "Of course it was a problem for us to have four players out playing Urawa here. It's not easy, but you have to adapt and make changes even if you don't want to."

The win sent Urawa level on points with Nagoya, but both still trail Shimizu S-Pulse after the league leaders kept up their unbeaten record with a 4-2 away win over Kyoto Sanga. Defending champions Kashima Antlers crashed to their second defeat of the season 2-1 at Cerezo Osaka, meanwhile, paving the way for Kawasaki Frontale to move into second after an eventful 4-4 draw with Gamba Osaka.

"I'm delighted with both the way we played and the result," said Urawa manager Volker Finke.

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