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Author Topic: Japan 2008
Furtho
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The Chinese press today reportedly maintained that "no riot broke out thanks to the foresight of the Chinese police" - that China are "a team that has always demonstrated calm and maturity", but on this occasion were provoked by the Japanese players "to lose their calm and be defeated in a match that everyone knew that the (Chinese) national team should have won."
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ursus arctos
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Glad that's all cleared up, then.

I wonder if they will have the "in your face" versions of the "P-R-C! P-R-C!" chants down by July.

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Furtho
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The unloved 2008 East Asian Football Championship reached its conclusion in China on Saturday with South Korea taking the title, while Japan ended as tournament runners up for the third consecutive time. The Japanese needed to defeat their South Korean rivals to win what has been a controversy-packed competition, but could only claim a draw in a surprisingly tame encounter. Striker Yeom Ki Hun of Ulsan Hyundai opened the scoring in the fifteenth minute with a sharp finish from around the penalty spot, the equaliser coming midway through the second half from Yokohama F Marinos' Koji Yamase.

The 1-1 scoreline between South Korea and Japan actually opened the door for North Korea to win the tournament, if they were able to beat the hosts by two goals in the day's later fixture. Indeed it was North Korea who went ahead just after the half hour though Ji Yun Nam of the enigmatic 25 April, but China came from behind to win 3-1. All of which means that the final group table therefore reads as follows:

1. South Korea 5 (+1)
2. Japan 5 (+1)
3. China 3 (-)
4. North Korea 2 (-2)

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Japan and South Korea, the best of pals as ever they were

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Furtho
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Gamba Osaka dealt out a 6-1 thwacking to Houston Dynamo to win the ultra-prestigious Pan-Pacific Championship in Hawaii on Saturday. Houston actually went ahead through an eleventh-minute Ricardo Clark header, but Gamba responded quickly and were 2-1 by half-time - both goals coming from star striker Bare. The Japanese side then accelerated out of sight in the second period, Bare netting twice more while the scoring was completed by fellow Brazilian Lucas and Masato Yamazaki. A certain English midfield player chipping in with a pair of assists, LA Galaxy defeated Sydney FC 2-1 to end up third.
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Melbourne Arab
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Alarming news - Gamba Osaka are in Melbourne Victory's Asian Champions League group. I see a 10-0 coming.
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Furtho
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The start of the 2008 J-League season is now just two weeks away and so, given that it's a bit more engaging to follow a league when you have a team to support, I thought I'd put together a bunch of club profiles to assist interested OTFers in making an informed choice as to who might appeal. Between now and The Big Kick-off, I'll be posting snippets of information on all 33 J1 and J2 teams, all the way from last year's champions Kashima Antlers to the two new members of the J-League, Roasso Kumamoto and FC Gifu.

The profiles will be put up in the order that they tend to do these sorts of things in Japan, i.e. the order in which the clubs finished last year, swapping over the promoted and relegated teams. Getting things started with a map including the country's 47 prefectures to help fuel any regional bias that may come into play, below you'll find 2007's top six in J1, with the other teams to follow shortly.

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The main islands are Hokkaido (dark blue), Kyushu (pink), Shikoku (orange) and Honshu (t'others)


1. KASHIMA ANTLERS

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Home Prefecture: Ibaraki
Colours: Red & black
Name: The literal meaning of Kashima is "deer island", so...
Fascinating Fact: Before going on to star for the Antlers, Zico had earlier played for Kashima's forerunner corporate team Sumitomo Metals

Kashima Antlers in 2008: Ibaraki's finest recovered from their worst-ever start to a season to win a fifth J-League championship in 2007, incoming coach Oswaldo de Oliveira's side perhaps lacking in big names but making up for it with a real team spirit. Kashima also seem to have an uncanny knack when it comes to bringing in young players - teenage starlet Atsuto Uchida, for example - but with an Asian Champions League campaign ahead, they mightn't have the strength in depth to keep the J1 crown as well.


2. URAWA REDS

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Home Prefecture: Saitama
Colours: Red with white trim
Name: See Mitsubishi's red diamond corporate logo for details
Fascinating Fact: Urawa have something called a "partnership agreement" with Bayern Munich. Hmmm

Urawa Reds in 2008: What a 2007 it was for the Reds. Japan's most popular club might have taken the Asian Champions League title - but incredibly within a matter of days they lost to Ehime FC in the Emperor's Cup and then Yokohama FC to throw away the J1 crown. Unpopular coach Holger Osieck remains in charge, but Urawa have brought in Naohiro Takahara from Germany and goalscorer Edmilson from Albirex Niigata to replace the portly but prolific Washington. Odds-on to finish top three, the question is how much the Reds have been damaged by last year's late collapse.

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Reds fans attending the team's final - catastrophic - match of 2007 at Yokohama FC


3. GAMBA OSAKA

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Home Prefecture: Osaka
Colours: Dark blue & black stripes
Name: Italian for "leg", but also a reference to a common Japanese phrase meaning something like "go for it" or "do your best"
Fascinating Fact: Gamba jointly hold the record for the biggest ever win in the Asian Champions League - they beat Da Nang from Vietnam 15-0 in 2006

Gamba Osaka in 2008: Coach Akira Nishino may be highly rated, but he hasn't really got to grips with the defensive problems that in the last two years have seen his side drop too many careless points to keep pace with their rivals. This has increased the pressure on strikers like Bare and Ryuji Bando, who have done well but not well enough; another forward, Lucas, joins from FC Tokyo, but Gamba's hopes rest on the success of Nishino's attempts to tighten things up at the back.


4. SHIMIZU S-PULSE

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Home Prefecture: Shizuoka
Colours: Orange with black trim
Name: Reflects the club's desire to be the pulse or heartbeat of football in Shizuoka, it says here
Fascinating Fact: S-Pulse's greatest-ever achievement? They won the 1999 Asian Cup-Winner's Cup

Shimizu S-Pulse in 2008: From being stuttering relegation candidates in 2004 and 2005 Shimizu have quietly become one of the toughest opponents in the league and last year deserved their fourth-place finish. The team has evolved enormously in that time, with a new set of up-and-coming young players aided by the likes of diminutive Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho. A first J1 championship may still be beyond them, but S-Pulse can be considered a dark horse for 2008.


5. KAWASAKI FRONTALE

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Home Prefecture: Kanagawa
Colours: Dark blue & light blue halves
Name: Something vaguely Italian-sounding and supposed to imply "in front" or "in the lead", that kind of thing
Fascinating Fact: Frontale were the winners of the first-ever J2 season in 1999, but they got relegated straight back down again a year later

Kawasaki Frontale in 2008: Could this be the year that Kawasaki Frontale finally become genuine title challengers? The Blues have based their tactical approach for some seasons now on all-out attack. Striker Juninho has netted an astonishing 123 goals in 138 games and he's now joined by the almost equally dangerous Hulk, which on paper looks an irresistible combination. Fifth last year was a disappointment, but in 2008 a top three finish is a strong possibility and they must now be considered an outside bet for the championship itself.


6. ALBIREX NIIGATA

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Home Prefecture: Niigata
Colours: Orange with blue trim
Name: A corruption of "albireo", which is apparently a type of swan, the swan being a local symbol
Fascinating Fact: In 2005, Albirex became the first J-League club ever to attract an average home crowd in excess of 40,000 fans

Albirex Niigata in 2008: After four seasons at the club, Albirex legend Edmilson has departed for Urawa Reds - and it could be that he has taken with him the Swans' hopes of establishing themselves as potential championship challengers. Niigata have shown gradual improvement since gaining promotion to J1 in 2004, but lack the strength in depth to build upon last year's sixth place finish. With Edmilson gone, it becomes that bit more difficult for them to find a route to goal.

[ 25.02.2008, 13:34: Message edited by: Furtho ]

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Jamzinho
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This is fantastic! I've always wondered how exactly the teams got their names and what they mean. Really looking forward to seeing the others before pinning my colours to a mast!
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Furtho
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Here's part two of the J1 2008 profiles, featuring the teams that ended up last season in positions seven down to twelve...

7. YOKOHAMA F MARINOS

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Home Prefecture: Kanagawa
Colours: Blue with red and white trim
Name: Reflecting Yokohama's port status, "marinos" means "sailors" in Spanish. The 'F' is a nod to the old Yokohama Flugels club
Fascinating Fact: Marinos became the F Marinos in 1999, when they merged with - i.e. took over - the aforementioned Flugels, whose fans then went on to form the AFC Wimbledon of Japan, Yokohama FC

Yokohama F Marinos in 2008: 2007 saw Marinos go through another frustrating campaign of the type that has become their trademark since winning the league in 2004. Inconsistency is the norm, when the Sailors are clearly club of potential - but last season's 8-0 thrashing of neighbours Yokohama FC only came as revenge for a shock 1-0 loss earlier in the year. The fans seem cautiously optimistic, but a cup may turn out to be the Marinos' best chance of silverware.


8. KASHIWA REYSOL

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Home Prefecture: Chiba
Colours: Yellow with black trim
Name: A corruption of "sun king" in Portuguese
Fascinating Fact: Reysol were originally formed as the Hitachi company team in 1940, making them one of the oldest clubs in the J-League

Kashiwa Reysol in 2008: 2007 started off well for a Kashiwa side fresh out of J2, a young team playing keenly aggressive football with Brazilian Franca banging in the goals. As the year went on, though, they rather got found out and Reysol faded to end up in mid-table - still a decent enough achievement and one they'll be aiming to build upon this season. The youngsters have more experience than twelve months ago and dangerous wingback Alex from Avispa Fukuoka looks like a key addition to the squad. Can they go top six?

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Communication of a global message by Kashiwa Reysol supporters


9. JUBILO IWATA

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Home Prefecture: Shizuoka
Colours:Sky blue with white trim
Name: "Jubilation" in Spanish
Fascinating Fact: Dunga captained Brazil to the 1998 World Cup Final while a Jubilo player

Jubilo Iwata in 2008: Jubilo might be one of those Japanese clubs that foreign fans tend to know, but their reputation was built up in the early days of the J-League and they haven't won the title since 2002. With an uneasy balance between youngsters and veterans the Sky Blues finished a lowest-ever ninth last year, but have since been busy in the transfer market. The pressure is now on for coach Atsushi Uchiyama as he fights to right the ship.


10. VISSEL KOBE

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Home Prefecture: Hyogo
Colours: Maroon with white trim
Name: An amalgamation of "victory" and "vessel", reflecting Kobe's history as a significant port
Fascinating Fact: Club owner Hiroshi Mikitani also runs Japan's newest pro baseball team, Sendai's Rakuten Eagles

Vissel Kobe in 2008: Back in J1 again after spending 2006 in the lower division, Kobe fans must be thrilled as to how last year turned out. Good work in the transfer market brought in young striker Leandro from Montedio Yamagata together with a partner in Yoshito Okubo. The pair responded by scoring 29 goals between them and helping Vissel to a best-ever tenth place finish. With star Korean defender Kim Nam-Il on board, they look set to improve on that this time around.


11. NAGOYA GRAMPUS

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Home Prefecture: Aichi
Colours: Red with yellow trim
Name: A grampus is a type of dolphin and is a symbol of Nagoya city
Fascinating Fact: Grampus were victims of one of the great acts of giantkilling in Japanese football history, when in the 2001 Emperor's Cup they were crushed 4-0 by works side Sagawa Kyubin SC

Nagoya Grampus in 2008: Few sets of fans will be looking forward to the new season as much as those of Nagoya Grampus. For their new coach Dragan "Pixie" Stojkovic is practically a god down Nagoya way, having starred for the team for fully seven years until his retirement in 2001. He knows the club inside out, but given that they've been treading water for a good few years it won't be easy for Grampus take the great leap forwards that their supporters have been hoping for.


12. FC TOKYO

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Home Prefecture: Tokyo
Colours: Blue with red trim
Name: -
Fascinating Fact: Nicknamed The Gasheads by foreign J-League fans, FC Tokyo are therefore perhaps the only Japanese club to have anything in common with Bristol Rovers

FC Tokyo in 2008: Formed in 1999 and thus a newer club than rivals Tokyo Verdy, FC Tokyo are nevertheless much more popular than their transplanted neighbours. But while Verdy have scrapped their way back into J1, FCT were sluggish underperformers in 2007, Paulo Wanchope's failure to adapt to the J-League - he was shipped out after playing just five games - symptomatic of the team's lack of focus. And with a weaker squad, 2008 is shaping up to be a toughie.

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Furtho
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Finishing off the J1 profiles with the three lowest survivors from 2007, plus the trio of teams promoted from J2...

13. JEF UNITED

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Home Prefecture: Chiba
Colours: Yellow with black trim
Name: The romantic unity of Japan Rail East and the Furukawa Electrics company. Awww
Fascinating Fact: JEF have had eight consecutive European coaches since 1997, including Jozef Venglos and the father-and-son pairing of Ivica and Amar Osim

JEF United in 2008: JEF's Osim era came to an abrupt halt at the end of 2007 with the sacking of Amar after a traumatic season. Subsequently, a steady stream of players have left the club, of those players most associated with the Bosnians' football only striker Seiichiro Maki electing to stay. Most fans expect JEF to be in danger of relegation in 2008, which would bring to an end the club's record of playing in the top flight every year since the J-League began.


14. OITA TRINITA

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Home Prefecture: Oita
Colours: Blue with white trim
Name: Reflecting the relationship between the club and fans, local businesses and local government
Fascinating Fact: Oita's home stadium, nicknamed Big Eye but officially known as the Kyushu Oil Dome, was chosen in 2001 by Architecture Week magazine as being the best stadium design in the world

Oita Trinita in 2008: Coach Pericles Chamusca came to Oita during 2005, when it looked like they were heading for relegation. Formerly at Botafogo, he saved Trinita from J2 and took them to their highest-ever finish the following year. 2007 was a tougher campaign and the squad have since lost key first-teamers like centre back Takashi Miki, highly-rated midfield starlet Tsukasa Umesaki and forward Shota Matsuhashi. It's very hard to see Oita shining in 2008.


15. OMIYA ARDIJA

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Home Prefecture: Saitama
Colours: Orange with black trim
Name: A corruption of the Spanish word for squirrel, "ardilla", the squirrel being a symbol of Omiya city
Fascinating Fact: Ardija's first coach was Pim Verbeek, now boss of the Australian national side. His brother Robert spent six months in charge of the club in 2007, but he was rubbish

Omiya Ardija in 2008: The Squirrels survived by the skin of their teeth last year, scoring just 24 goals as a strong defence enabled them to beat the drop. So what have Omiya's management done over the winter to boost their feeble strikeforce? That's right: they've signed a university student and promoted a kid from the youth team. This nevertheless doesn't stop Ardija from being the intelligent choice for those looking round for a J1 team to support.


16. CONSADOLE SAPPORO

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Home Prefecture: Hokkaido
Colours: Red & black stripes
Name: A reversal of the four characters that make up the word DO SA N KO - a dialect term referring to someone from Hokkaido - with a jaunty "ole" added on the end for good measure
Fascinating Fact: The club have a cheerleading team called, cleverly, the Consadolls

Consadole Sapporo in 2008: J2 2007 champions Sapporo achieved success by basing their play on a tough defensive approach, they're a team lacking in stars - and the fact that they're operating on such a tight budget means that Consadole have had to pick up the scraps from other clubs, such as Japanese-American midfielder Jun Marques Davidson from Albirex Niigata. Likely strugglers, then, but perhaps strong enough at the back to stay up.

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Consadole celebrate promotion and the J2 title


17. TOKYO VERDY

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Home Prefecture: Tokyo
Colours: Green
Name: A mis-spelling of the Italian word for green, matching the colour of their shirts
Fascinating Fact: Verdy were fined in 1996 for contravening the J-League's regulations on the separation of club and parent or sponsoring company - on occasion, they still referred to themselves as Yomiuri Verdy

Tokyo Verdy in 2008: Fans who followed J2 in 2007 watched with amazement the rise of Verdy. After a 5-1 drubbing by Mito Hollyhock in May, it seemed certain that coach Ruy Ramos would be out of a job as the Greens stumbled to mid-table, but he clung on to steer the team to promotion. Striker Hulk scored 37 goals amidst mutterings of the phrase "one-man team" - but he's returned to Kawasaki Frontale and the Verdy squad looks ill-equipped to survive the top division.


18. KYOTO SANGA

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Home Prefecture: Kyoto
Colours: Purple with black trim
Name: Sanskrit for "group"
Fascinating Fact: When he was at Kyoto, winger Daisuke Matsui was told not to bother turning up for training anymore by coach Koichi Hashiratani - he now stars for Le Mans in Ligue 1

Kyoto Sanga in 2008: Sanga battled their way to promotion from J2 via the play-offs in December and club management have been busy in the close season, seeking to ensure that the Purples don't finish up in the drop zone. Cash has been splashed on the likes of key midfielder Yuto Sato from JEF United and - less impressively - Kashima Antlers' goal shy striker Atsushi Yanagisawa, but it's arguable that Kyoto will cope the best of the trio of promoted sides.

[ 25.02.2008, 08:42: Message edited by: Furtho ]

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ursus arctos
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These really are terrific, Furtho, and it is especially interesting to see just how many of the club names are bastardisations of foreign phrases of sometimes questionable relevance.

But we all know that there is only one possible choice for the discerning neutral here.

Orange! Happy!! Football!!!

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Furtho
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You and I know it, UA, but evidently there are still some doubters about the place - weirdos who conceivably wouldn't even want one of these...

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A 10th Anniversary Orange! Happy!! Football!!! cap

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Furtho
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Here we go with the first batch of J2 profiles, starting with the three teams who were relegated from J1 last year...


1. SANFRECCE HIROSHIMA

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Home Prefecture: Hiroshima
Colours: Purple with white trim
Name: An amalgamation of the Japanese for "three" and the Italian for "arrow", three arrows being a long-established local symbol
Fascinating Fact: Sanfrecce have had two British coaches in well-travelled Stuart Baxter and the late Eddie Thomson

Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2008: A disastrous second half of 2007 ended in relegation via the play-offs for Hiroshima, who have somewhat surprisingly been able to hang on to some of their star players. Veteran forward Ueslei might have gone to Oita Trinita and wingback Yuichi Komano to Jubilo Iwata, but international striker Hisato Sato together with the Morisaki twins Koji and Kazu are still in place to help Sanfrecce succeed in their first J2 season since 2003.


2. VENTFORET KOFU

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Home Prefecture: Yamanashi
Colours: Dark blue with red trim
Name: French for "wind forest", from a famous saying of regional warlord Takeda Shingen, whose motto was "wind, forest, fire, mountain"
Fascinating Fact: Kofu are one of the few J-League clubs who have never had any connections with a corporate owner or sponsor - they started as a high school old boys' side

Ventforet Kofu in 2008: Ventforet Kofu in 2007 found themselves unable to cope with the close season departure of star striker Bare. The team's astonishing work ethic meant that VFK were always dangerous opponents, although the tiny budget meant that in the end they couldn't do much about a lack of quality in the squad. It would be a shock to see them bounce straight back up to J1, but a top five finish for Kofu is certainly possible.


3. YOKOHAMA FC

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Home Prefecture: Kanagawa
Colours: Sky blue with white trim
Name: ...
Fascinating Fact: Doddery striker Kazu Miura, 41, has indicated that he wants to continue playing until he's 48, so that he can retire at the end of a 30-year career as a pro

Yokohama FC in 2008: The phoenix may have risen from the flames following the takeover of the old Flugels by the Marinos, but their shock promotion to the top flight at the end of 2006 was a step too far for a proudly resurgent Yokohama FC. Generally acknowledged to be the worst team in J1 history, the Sky Blues are now back where they started and would seem to have a tough 2008 ahead of them. Expect a finish somewhere in mid-table.

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There's no-one quite like grandpa


4. VEGALTA SENDAI

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Home Prefecture: Miyagi
Colours: Yellow with blue trim
Name: An amalgamation of the names of two stars, Vega and Altair, who feature in a local legend
Fascinating Fact: In 2005, Vegalta fans directed a hate campaign at failing coach Satoshi Tsunami, which included the displaying at one match of a large banner that read, "Tsunami: Die, For The Sake Of Sendai"

Vegalta Sendai in 2008: If underachievement is your sort of thing, can I perhaps interest you in Vegalta Sendai? The most vociferously-supported club in the division may have a famous - notorious, even - and passionate fanbase, but on the pitch the players have over a number of seasons failed to deliver, always seeming to stutter along just outside the promotion places. Those supporters might be fed up with Now Or Never, but 2008 might be Sendai's year.


5. CEREZO OSAKA

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Home Prefecture: Osaka
Colours: Dark blue & pink
Name: Spanish for "cherry", Osaka (like everywhere in Japan) being noted for its cherry blossom
Fascinating Fact: Legendary midfielder / forward Hiroaki Morishima is still with the club after having played over 400 games for Cerezo and their corporate predecessors Yanmar

Cerezo Osaka in 2008: After failing to win the J-League title on a cataclysmic final day of 2005, Cerezo sank like stone and were relegated the following year. Results in the second half of last season, though, would indicate that they have bottomed out and are heading for a promotion challenge in 2008. There are some question marks over recent additions to the squad, like forward Careca from Thespa Kusatsu, but the Flaming Pinks ought to finish in the top three.

[ 25.02.2008, 13:30: Message edited by: Furtho ]

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Furtho
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Continuing OTF's very own 2008 J-League profiles with the mid-ranking J2 sides...


6. SHONAN BELLMARE

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Home Prefecture: Kanagawa
Colours: Blue & lime green
Name: A corruption of the Italian for "beautiful sea", referring to the attractions of the Shonan coastline
Fascinating Fact: Bellmare are probably best known as Hidetoshi Nakata's first club, but they've been in decline ever since he left for Italy following the 1998 World Cup

Shonan Bellmare in 2008: Shonan as they now exist are a community-based side sponsored by a local university and in recent seasons have populated the middle of J2 alongside the likes of Sagan Tosu and Montedio Yamagata. The club made some improvements in 2007 inspired by goalscoring Brazilian midfielder Adiel and there's a feeling among fans that this might possibly be the year that they're able to step back into the limelight. They have nothing approaching the clout of other clubs, but the Seasiders could be dark horses in 2008.


7. AVISPA FUKUOKA

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Home Prefecture: Fukuoka
Colours: Dark blue with white trim
Name: Spanish for "wasp", reportedly common in the area (wasps, that is, not Spaniards). Quite makes you want to visit, doesn't it
Fascinating Fact: The club that eventually became Avispa Fukuoka were founded hundreds of miles away in Shizuoka by staff at the Chuo Bohan security company

Avispa Fukuoka in 2008: A 5-0 away thrashing of rivals Sagan Tosu on the opening day of the 2007 season suggested that Fukuoka were set to challenge for promotion and an immediate return to J1, but Pierre Littbarski's inconsistent team were the year's big disappointment and have since lost star wingback Alex to Kashiwa Reysol. For 2008, Litti has brought in giant Australian defender Mark Rudan from Sydney FC and striker Mike Havenaar from Yokohama F Marinos. Likely contenders.


8. SAGAN TOSU

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Home Prefecture: Saga
Colours: Light blue with black & pink trim
Name: An amalgamation of the names of their home prefecture and the city of Tosu
Fascinating Fact: The Sagan badge is inscribed with the phrase, "True champions in the hearts of all those who love Sagan Tosu"

Sagan Tosu in 2008: Discovering goalscorers is something of a knack for Tosu, Tatsunori Arai having been sold a year ago to JEF United only to be replaced by Yoshihito Fujita, who knocked in 24 goals fresh out of university. But despite the success of Fujita, 2007 must be considered a major disappointment: Sagan began the year with hopes of fighting for promotion but never had the consistency to put together a challenge. Top five will be the target.


9. MONTEDIO YAMAGATA

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Home Prefecture: Yamagata
Colours: Blue & white stripes
Name: A corruption of the Italian for "mountain god", Yamagata being a particularly mountainous part of Japan
Fascinating Fact: As can be seen from the photo, Montedio play their home games at one of the most spectacularly-located stadia in the country. Lovely

Montedio Yamagata in 2008: The cash-strapped northerners have tended to exist in the shadows of their more popular neighbours Vegalta Sendai, but sometimes things have almost clicked and twice in recent years they've narrowly missed out on promotion. 2007 was a backward step, though, and Yamagata have some catching up to do even to get back into mid-table; new signing Rychely from FC Tokyo may be the man to kickstart the Mountain Gods.

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Yamagata's picturesque home


10. EHIME FC

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Home Prefecture: Ehime
Colours: Orange with dark blue trim
Name: -
Fascinating Fact: Former star striker Toshiro Tomochika quit football when the club achieved J-League status and within 18 months had become a Member of Parliament.

Ehime FC in 2008: A crucial third J-League season awaits the Tangerines, who slumped in 2007 after a promising debut the previous year. Their sensational 2-0 away win at Urawa Reds in the Emperor's Cup was a highlight in an otherwise disappointing campaign and the competition for Ehime has just got tougher with the arrival on the J2 scene of more new blood, in the shape of Roasso Kumamoto and FC Gifu. The jury's out as to how they might cope.

[ 25.02.2008, 13:10: Message edited by: Furtho ]

Posts: 2913 | From: The Slow Lane | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Furtho
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... and here are the last five J2 profiles, including last year's real strugglers and the two new teams moving up from the semi-pro JFL.


11. THESPA KUSATSU

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Home Prefecture: Gunma
Colours: Dark blue with yellow & while trim
Name: "Thespa" = "the spa", geddit? Kusatsu's one of the most popular centres for hot spring baths in Japan
Fascinating Fact: Every home game a section of Thespa's female fans dress in traditional local costume and carry the decorated paddles that were until recently used to stir the waters of the town's springs... which explains the photo

Thespa Kusatsu in 2008: A shot in the arm for Kusatsu ahead of the new season is that 2006 playmaker and "assist king" Yusuke Shimada is back for another year's loan from Omiya Ardija. The club have made slow but steady progress since moving up from the JFL at the end of 2004 and Shimada's return may go some way to ensuring that this trend continues. A top ten finish will constitute a triumph for another of the J-League's minnows.

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Them Kusatsu girls in action


12. MITO HOLLYHOCK

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Home Prefecture: Ibaraki
Colours: Blue with white trim
Name: The Hollyhock is Ibaraki's prefectural tree and has long-standing symbolic connections with the area
Fascinating Fact: Mito made a profit in 2006 of about GBP12k

Mito Hollyhock in 2008: J2's smallest side avoided the wooden spoon right at the end of the season in 2007 and begin the new campaign cautiously optimistic that they can work towards a mid-table place. But the departure of U22 international midfielder Shohei Ogura for Yokohama F Marinos is a blow to the stability of Mito's defensive approach and new coach Takashi Kiyama has his work cut out if cash-strapped Hollyhock are to finish above more than a handful of other teams.


13. TOKUSHIMA VORTIS

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Home Prefecture: Tokushima
Colours: Blue with white trim
Name: A corruption of the Italian for "whirlpool", a reference to the Naruto whirlpool just off the Tokushima coast
Fascinating Fact: Formerly known as Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, Vortis became the first club from Shikoku - the smallest of Japan's four main islands - to gain J-League status when they were promoted for the 2005 season.

Tokushima Vortis in 2008: Ended up rock bottom of the table in 2007, their third J-League season. Getting goals was the problem, midfielder Yuki Ishida being the top scorer with just six - Hideo Okamoto has been promoted from Vortis' amateur side in the hope that he can bang a few in. The back four was actually reasonably sound last year, but they've lost star defender Daiki Niwa after his year on loan from Gamba Osaka; all in all, it's not looking good, is it.


14. ROASSO KUMAMOTO

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Home Prefecture: Kumamoto
Colours: Red with white trim
Name: An amalgamation of "rosso" (Italian for "red") and the name of local landmark / active volcano Mt Aso
Fascinating Fact: At the end of February 2007, Kumamoto played a pre-season friendly against the USA U23 international side, the then non-leaguers netting two late goals in a 2-2 draw

Roasso Kumamoto in 2008: Newly promoted into the J-League, the arrival of Kumamoto means that there are now three J2 sides based on the southern island of Kyushu. They've been running a professional enough outfit for some time now, but results in 2006 in the third-tier JFL weren't good enough and they missed out on promotion as a consequence. The aim now that Roasso are finally up will simply be to establish a foothold in the division - tenth would be a major triumph.


15. FC GIFU

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Home Prefecture: Gifu
Colours: Dark green with white trim
Name: -
Fascinating Fact: Gifu pulled in crowd of over 12,000 for a Regional League game in 2006 - more than double anything they managed in the JFL last season.

FC Gifu in 2008: 2008 will be the club's first ever season in J2, having risen up the pyramid very rapidly over the past three years using a squad peppered with aging J-League veterans. Now they're amongst the pros, it's hard to see anything other than a year of struggle for the Greens and although coach Hideki Matsunaga has experience aplenty from places like Vissel Kobe and Ventforet Kofu, he'll probably be chuffed enough to finish outside the bottom two.

[ 25.02.2008, 13:27: Message edited by: Furtho ]

Posts: 2913 | From: The Slow Lane | Registered: Apr 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Inca
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Furtho, it is my life's deepest mission to get one of those Ardija caps. Please tell me they're for sale.

Also, what can you tell me about Bare? How much is he making? Some Galaxy fans on a different board don't believe me that we couldn't just snap our fingers and sign him for the Galaxy.

Posts: 16877 | From: Gobias Industries | Registered: Jul 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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