Friday, January 25, 2008

J-League Fixture List announced

J-League Fixture List announced.
The 2008 J-League fixture list has been announced, with the season kicking off on March 8 and winding up on December 6 after 34 rounds of matches.

The highlight match of the opening round is the clash between heavyweights Yokohama F. Marinos and Urawa Reds at Nissan Stadium.

Kashima Antlers kick-off their title defence by hosting J2 champions Consadole Sapporo in their opening fixture at Kashima Stadium.

The second week of action sees Consadole Sapporo host Yokohama F. Marinos at the Sapporo Dome, whilst Urawa take on a much-changed Nagoya Grampus FC at Saitama Stadium in their first home match of the season.

As usual the Golden Week holiday period is an action-packed affair, with the pick of the fixtures the Shizuoka Derby between bitter rivals Shimizu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata on May 3.

Omiya Ardija will host city rivals Urawa Reds at the newly renovated NACK5 Stadium on September 20, with Omiya sacrificing a big payday at the gate in favour of home advantage, having switched this fixture from the much larger Saitama Stadium.

The fixture list is subject to change as a result of the Beijing Olympic Games, whilst qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup also takes place throughout the season.

League Cup Fixture List announced

The draw for the 2008 League Cup has also been announced, with the group stage kicking off on March 20 and wrapping up on June 8.

Group A
Nagoya Grampus FC
Kyoto Sanga FC
Urawa Reds
Vissel Kobe

Group B
Tokyo Verdy
FC Tokyo
Shimizu S-Pulse
Jubilo Iwata

Group C
Kawasaki Frontale
JEF United
Kashiwa Reysol
Consadole Sapporo

Group D
Yokohama F. Marinos
Oita Trinita
Alberix Niigata
Omiya Ardija

Defending champions Gamba Osaka and J-League champions Kashima Antlers enter the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Transfers

Urawa Reds have pulled off a major coup by signing Japan international Naohiro Takahara from Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt for a fee of around 180 million yen.

Takahara joins fellow new arrival Edmilson, who was signed from Albirex Niigata to replaced the departed Washington. Also joining the Reds is highly-rated midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki, whose arrival from Oita Trinita reputedly cost Urawa in excess of 200 million yen. Makoto Hasebe departs in the opposite direction, having signed a deal with ambitious German side VfL Wolfsburg.

Reigning champions Kashima Antlers have been quiet on the transfer front, bringing in Masahiko Inoha from FC Tokyo whilst farewelling former club captain Atsushi Yanagisawa, who has signed for newly promoted Kyoto Sanga FC.

Chiba side JEF United have lost no less than five frontline players for the 2008 season. Koki Mizuno is set to join Scottish side Celtic, whilst Japan internationals Naotake Hanyu and Satoru Yamagishi have joined FC Tokyo and Kawasaki Frontale respectively. Hiroki Mizumoto has left for Gamba Osaka, whilst former captain Yuto Sato has departed for Kyoto Sanga FC.

Elsewhere the other major signings so far have seen Japan international Yuichi Komano join Jubilo Iwata from relegated Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Brazilian playmaker Magnum makes the switch from Kawasaki Frontale to Nagoya Grampus FC - who saw Keisuke Honda recently sign for Dutch side VV Venlo, Lucas Severino leaves FC Tokyo for Gamba Osaka, whilst Shimizu S-Pulse have signed a trio of highly-rated youngsters in Genki Omae, Shinji Tsujio and Takuya Honda, the latter of whom will hope to be named in the Japan Olympic Games squad later this season.

AFC Champions League

Three Japanese teams will take part in the 2008 AFC Champions League, with the competition's defending champions Urawa Reds entering at the quarter-final stage.

Last year's J-League champions Kashima Antlers will be confident of topping a group that contains Chinese side Beijing Guoan, Thai outfit Krung Thai Bank FC and Vietnamese side Nam Dinh FC.

Gamba Osaka face a much tougher-task when they take on 2006 A-League champions Melbourne Victory, Korean FA Cup winners Chunnam Dragons and Thai side Chonburi FC.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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