Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Japanese Soccer News February 2007

Japanese Soccer News February 2007.
J-League Transfer News

After January's flurry of activity, things have been relatively quiet on the transfer scene in Japan of late.

Perhaps the most notable recent move sees former Japan international Takashi Fukunishi leave Jubilo Iwata after more than a decade at the club. The midfielder was capped 64 times by his country, and leaves to join capital club FC Tokyo.

Former Jubilo Iwata teammate Takayuki Chano will join him at FC Tokyo, while the club has also signed ex-Gremio defender Evaldo.

As expected, former Espanyol and Bolton striker Akinori Nishizawa has left relegated Cerezo Osaka, to join Shimizu S-Pulse. He will face his one-time Cerezo strike partner Yoshito Okubo in their first game of the J-League season, when Okubo's new club Vissel Kobe travels to Nihondaira Stadium to take on Shimizu.

Finally, after hardly getting on the pitch at Red Star Belgrade, former Japan striker Takayuki Suzuki has joined Yokohama F. Marinos. Meanwhile highly-rated youngster Tsukasa Umesaki has joined French Ligue 2 outfit on a six-month loan deal from Oita Trinita. He joins Japanese striker Sho Ito at the club.

J-League Draw

With the J-League kicking off again on March 3 and the fixture-list having been recently announced, the opening rounds have thrown up some fascinating matches.

Defending J-League champions Urawa Reds open their campaign at home to last season's J2 champions Yokohama FC. The following round sees Yokohama FC take on cross-town rivals Yokohama F. Marinos, in what could be one of the most bitter derbies ever contested in Japan, given the histories of the two clubs.

Last season's runner-up Kawasaki Frontale take on heavyweights Kashima Antlers at Todoroki Stadium in the opening round, while new boys Kashiwa Reysol are at home to Jubilo Iwata, and Vissel Kobe face a tough task in Shimizu.

Gamba Osaka will hope for three points in their opening encounter with Omiya Ardija, particularly as they face Kashima Antlers at Kashima Stadium the following weekend.

Xerox Super Cup

The traditional season-opener pits two familiar foes against each other, as Urawa Reds clash with Gamba Osaka on Saturday, February 24.

The two teams last met in the Emperor's Cup Final on New Year's Day, when Urawa were outplayed by Gamba for much of the match, but still managed to prevail 1-0.

Japanese Players Overseas

The tragic death of police officer Filippo Raciti at the Sicilian derby between Catania and Palermo on February 2 - which lead to the complete suspension of Italian football, has rightly overshadowed all aspects of Serie A.

Before those sickening scenes, all the headlines in Japan had been about Japanese youngster Takayuki Morimoto's wonder debut for Catania.

On January 28, Morimoto came on in the 83rd minute with his team one goal down on the road at Atalanta. The youngest Japanese player ever to play - and the youngest ever scorer in the J-League, promptly fired home a late equaliser, that saw his team move into a UEFA Champions League qualification place on the Serie A table.

Shunsuke Nakamura : Celtic

Nakamura's outstanding form for Celtic shows no sign of letting up, with the midfielder tipped as a contender for the SPL Player Of The Year award. Nakamura, meanwhile, has hit out at claims that he is looking to return to the J-League. Speaking to the official Celtic website, Nakamura said "I am very happy at Celtic and I am very much looking forward to all the challenges which lie ahead at the club."

Junichi Inamoto : Galatasaray

The former West Bromwich Albion midfielder has become a fan favourite at the Turkish giants, and he played the full 90 minutes in their recent 0-0 draw with Kayserispor.

Naohiro Takahara : Eintracht Frankfurt

Takahara has scored seven league goals so far this season, and he played the full 90 minutes in the recent 0-0 draw against local rivals 1.FSV Mainz.

Daisuke Matsui : Le Mans

Matsui has disappeared from view somewhat at Le Mans, and has featured only sporadically this season. He came off after 80 minutes in the recent 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille.

Tsuneyasu Miyamoto and Alessandro Santos : Salzburg

Former Gamba Osaka defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto and ex-Urawa midfielder Alex have both featured for their new club Salzburg, on their current tour of the United Arab Emirates. The Austrian Bundesliga resumes on February 24, following a long winter break.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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