Japanese Non-league Football News

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Sunday Friendlies
Honda Lock beat Fukuoka's Seinan Gakuin University 6-1, including two goals for forward Norita Ochiai... Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo lost 3-1 to Omiya Ardija, despite having taken a second-minute lead... and Honda FC went down by the same scoreline to Vegalta Sendai.

27 Feb 06 - Tatsuya Owaki in action for Honda Lock

Tatsuya Owaki in action for Honda Lock vs Seinan Gakuin University
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Saturday Friendly Scores
Three friendly scores to relate from Saturday... SC Tottori overcame a Vissel Kobe U-21 side 1-0 with the goal coming from forward Hideki Uchiyama, signed during the close season from Yokogawa Musashino - who themselves thrashed Tsukuba University 10-2, including a hat-trick by young striker Yosuke Kobayashi... and Tochigi SC eased past Ryutsu Keizai University 4-1.

27 Feb 06 - Hoping to lead SC Tottori up the JFL table, Hideki Uchiyama

Hoping to lead SC Tottori up the JFL table, Hideki Uchiyama
More Friendlies
More JFL-related friendlies from the last couple of days to report... on Thursday, Honda FC lost 2-1 to Oita Trinita, Rosso Kumamoto went down 3-1 to Tokushima Vortis, JEF Club were well beaten by Mito Hollyhock to the tune of 4-1 and Montedio Yamagata got the better of near neighbours Sony Sendai 1-0. Then on Friday, Honda FC were again defeated, this time 3-1 by Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa.
25th Western Japan Football Tournament
As mentioned on JNFN, the 25th Western Japan Football Tournament is now taking place in Kumamoto, including the top two teams in each of last season's Kyushu, Shikoku, Chugoku and Kansai Regional Leagues. The results and fixtures to date are as follows:

24/02/2006 FC Ryukyu 2-0 Nangoku Kochi
24/02/2006 Rosso Kumamoto 2-1 Sanyo Electric Tokushima
24/02/2006 Banditonce Kobe 3-2 Fagiano Okayama
24/02/2006 Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku 3-1 Kobe FC 1970

25/02/2006 FC Ryukyu 3-0 Banditonce Kobe
25/02/2006 Rosso Kumamoto 4-0 Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku
25/02/2006 Nangoku Kochi 1-5 Fagiano Okayama
25/02/2006 Kobe FC 1970 1-2 Sanyo Electric Tokushima

27 Feb 06 - FC Ryukyu (white) on their way to victory over arch-rivals Rosso Kumamoto

FC Ryukyu (white) on their way to victory over arch-rivals Rosso Kumamoto

26/02/2006 FC Ryukyu 2-0 Rosso Kumamoto (1st / 2nd place play-off)
26/02/2006 Banditonce Kobe 5-0 Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku (3rd / 4th place play-off)
26/02/2006 Fagiano Okayama 3-2 Sanyo Electric Tokushima (5th / 6th place play-off)
26/02/2006 Nangoku Kochi 2-1 Kobe FC 1970 (7th / 8th place play-off)

Final ranking

1. FC Ryukyu
2. Rosso Kumamoto
3. Banditonce Kobe
4. Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku
5. Fagiano Okayama
6. Sanyo Electric Tokushima
7. Nangoku Kochi
8. Kobe FC 1970

27 Feb 06 - Fagiano Okayama fans prepare their banner for the match with Sanyo Electric Tokushima

Fagiano Okayama fans prepare their banner for the match with Sanyo Electric Tokushima
... And Some More Friendly Scores
Ryutsu Keizai University lost 4-2 to near neighbours Mito Hollyhock on Tuesday... Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo were defeated 3-2 by Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday.
Grulla Morioka - A Step Forward
Some positive news at last to report from under fire Tohoku League club Grulla Morioka. As has been extensively reported here on JNFN, following the club's failure to reach the JFL via the Play-offs at the end of last season it seemed as if the wannabe J-Leaguers had fallen into complete disarray, with the directors resigning en masse, the bulk of full-time players leaving along with the coach and reports of staff salaries going unpaid.

But a meeting on Sunday 19th February agreed the election of five new directors, with one of their first tasks being to look at the salary framework for players and office staff alike. It now seems likely, therefore, that the fans will be able to look ahead to the 2006 campaign with some confidence that they will at least have a team to support, even if the players available are unlikely to be as strong as was the case twelve months ago. Nevertheless, Grulla are planning to confirm details of a new coach and squad at the beginning of April, with the intention of taking their place once again in the Tohoku League Division 1.
Mitsubishi Sign Fukuoka Youngster
Naoyuki Okimoto, a 21-year-old midfield player, has made the glamour-packed move from J1 newcomers Avispa Fukuoka to JFL tail-enders Mitsubishi Mizushima.
Ryukyu Bolster Midfield
FC Ryukyu have signed experienced midfielder Taijiro Kurita from J2 club Mito Hollyhock. Thirty-year-old Kurita has previously spent time with Kashima Antlers, Kyoto Purple Sanga, Consadole Sapporo, Shimizu S-Pulse and Yokohama FC.

20 Feb 06 - Taijiro Kurita, newly-arrived at FC Ryukyu

Taijiro Kurita, newly-arrived at FC Ryukyu
Sunday Friendlies
... and more games on Sunday, too... SC Tottori lost again, this time 3-2 to Osaka-based Hannan University... Yokogawa Musashino beat Tochigi SC 2-0... but the results of the day was Sagawa Printing's 2-1 win over J1 newcomers Kyoto Purple Sanga.

19 Feb 06 - Ikuma Noiri of Yokogawa Musashino vs Tochigi SC

Ikuma Noiri of Yokogawa Musashino vs Tochigi SC
Saturday Friendlies
More friendlies involving JFL teams on Saturday... Yokogawa Musashino beat Arte Takasaki 3-0 including a brace from striker Koji Murayama... Rosso Kumamoto's 847th pre-season fixture ended in an 8-2 thrashing by Consadole Sapporo... FC Kariya drew 1-1 with Tokai League side FC Gifu... last year's JFL champions Ehime FC overcame SC Tottori 2-0... and Tochigi SC cruised to a 4-1 win over Tsukuba University.

19 Feb 06 - FC Kariya at their training camp prior to the match with FC Gifu

FC Kariya at their training camp prior to the match with FC Gifu
More Friendly Scores
Two more JFL-related pre-season friendly games to report, with Yokogawa Musashino having lost 2-0 to J2's Montedio Yamagata on Thursday, while Honda Lock took on J1 giants - and 2005 Emperor's Cup opponents - Kashima Antlers on Friday. It was Lock, however, who actually opened the scoring thanks to a good effort from 20-year-old forward Shoma Mizunaga in the thirteenth minute and indeed they were still on level terms at half-time, but Antlers made a number of substitutions at half time and eventually ran out comfortable 5-1 winners.

17 Feb 06 - Lock goal hero Shoma Mizunaga

Lock goal hero Shoma Mizunaga
Sagawa Tokyo Snap Up Keeper
Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo have signed 21-year-old goalkeeper Koichiro Morita from FC Tokyo, where he has been on loan from J2 side Vegalta Sendai.
Early JFL Fixtures Announced
The first two rounds of fixtures for the new JFL season have been issued, with the rest to follow on Friday 24th. Toyama will clearly be the place to be on the opening day, however, with 2005 runners-up YKK AP kicking things off with a fascinating clash against new boys Rosso Kumamoto - but that's not all, as they are followed in a double-header by local rivals Alo's Hokuriku, matched up with another promoted side, JEF Club. The third and final new team, FC Ryukyu, could scarcely have a trickier start, as they begin at championship hopefuls Tochigi SC; but it's Mitsubishi Mizushima who probably have the most difficult time, as they begin awat at Honda FC before hosting Tochigi in the second round.

19/03/2006 YKK AP - Rosso Kumamoto
19/03/2006 Alo's Hokuriku - JEF Club
19/03/2006 Tochigi SC - FC Ryukyu
19/03/2006 Honda FC - Mitsubishi Mizushima
19/03/2006 Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo - Honda Lock
19/03/2006 Sony Sendai - FC Kariya
19/03/2006 Arte Takasaki - Ryutsu Keizai University
19/03/2006 Sagawa Kyubin Osaka - Sagawa Printing

21/03/2006 Yokogawa Musashino - SC Tottori

25/03/2006 Ryutsu Keizai University - Sony Sendai

26/03/2006 FC Ryukyu - Alo's Hokuriku
26/03/2006 Rosso Kumamoto - Sagawa Kyubin Osaka
26/03/2006 Sagawa Printing - Yokogawa Musashino
26/03/2006 Honda Lock - Honda FC
26/03/2006 Mitsubishi Mizushima - Tochigi SC
26/03/2006 JEF Club - YKK AP
26/03/2006 SC Tottori - Arte Takasaki
26/03/2006 FC Kariya - Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo
Pre-season Practice Scores
More JFL sides have been involved in pre-season practice matches as the big 2006 kick-off nears, with Rosso Kumamoto in action practically every day. The 2005 Kyushu League champions played a further match on Sunday against newly-relegated J2 side Kashiwa Reysol and managed a 2-2 draw, which they followed with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of K-League giants Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday. On Wednesday they went down 3-1 to Gamba Osaka, at the same time as Honda FC lost 3-0 to Mito Hollyhock.
Verdy Snap Up Non-league Pair
Tokyo Verdy 1969, relegated to J2 at the end of the 2005 season and since engaged on a massive rebuilding campaign, have announced the signing of two more players from the ranks of Japan's non-league game. Masaki Saito is a 25-year-old forward from Shizuoka FC, while Takumi Hoyama - a 27-year-old defender - makes the move from Arte Takasaki.
JFL Fixtures Put Back
The JFL have announced that the release of the fixture list for the 2006 season has been put back from "mid-February" to "the last third of February."
Nangoku Kochi - 2006 Selection
Beleaguered Shikoku League champions Nangoku Kochi have been looking at potential new players over the weekend. Hopefuls varying from junior high school boys to players reportedly with JFL experience have been participating in a trial in Kochi, their ages ranging from 15 to 26. The club have announced plans to establish youth team and a reserve team for 2006, with the latter most likely participating in the Kochi Prefectural League Division 3.

12 Feb 06 - Scrapping it out for a place in Nangoku Kochi's squad for 2006

Scrapping it out for a place in Nangoku Kochi's squad for 2006
Rosso / Honda Lock Friendlies
Kyushu-based JFL sides Honda Lock and Rosso Kumamoto were both in action against J2 opposition in pre-season games on Sunday, with Rosso coming off best in a 1-0 win over Yokohama FC thanks to a goal from midfielder Yasuhiro Kamata. Lock, meanwhile, managed a 1-1 draw with last year's J-League wooden-spooners Thespa Kusatsu.
Grulla - The Crisis Deepens?
Controversial Tohoku League team Grulla Morioka are still in crisis ahead of the 2006 season, if a public meeting of club officials, players and supporters is anything to go by. Some fans have suggested that the basis of the club over the last two years of league competition has not been as secure as the management have sought to portray - and the fact that the Iwate Prefectural FA have so far offered little support to Grulla's efforts to get into the JFL is, supporters suggest, a manifestation of a lack of confidence in what the club are trying to do. JNFN will be keeping a close eye on events in Morioka over the coming months.
Fagiano Friendly Win
Fagiano Okayama's pre-season preparations gathered pace with a 5-1 win over fellow Chugoku League team Hitachi Manufacturing Kasado at Kurashiki, amid reports that the team's new players have improved the strength of the squad and will make them more likely to challenge for a JFL place come the end of 2006.

12 Feb 06 - The massed ranks of Fagiano fans

The massed ranks of Fagiano fans vs Hitachi Kasado
Caballos Name Change
Newly promoted to the Shikoku League from the Tokushima Prefectural League, Tokushima Vortis Caballos have announced a change of name to Tokushima Vortis Amateur.
Yokogawa See Off Students
Yokogawa Musashino continued their impressive pre-season form on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Tokyo Gakugei University.
Fagiano - New Mascot
Fagiano Okayama of the Chugoku League have announced the design and name of their new mascot, in the light of their intention to go for a JFL place. Fagimaru (Fagi-circle) is the result.

11 Feb 06 - Fagimaru

Up up and away, with Fagimaru
25th Western Japan Football Tournament
第25回西日本社会人サッカー大会

Some details have been released of the 25th Western Japan Football Tournament, which is due to be played in Kumamoto over the weekend of 24th - 26th February. This is a competition for teams finishing the previous season in the top two places of the Kyushu, Shikoku, Chugoku and Kansai Regional Leagues - and as well as an early opportunity to see some of the key non-league sides in the country play each other in a competitive environment, the competition also offers fans a chance to puzzle over its unusual format, which JNFN will here attempt to explain (probably wrongly):

Match 1: Team A - Team B
Match 2: Team C - Team D
Match 3: Team E - Team F
Match 4: Team G - Team H

Match 5: Winner Match 1 - Winner Match 2
Match 6: Winner Match 3 - Winner Match 4
Match 7: Loser Match 1 - Lose Match 2
Match 8: Loser Match 3 - Loser Match 4

Tournament Decider: Winner Match 5 - Winner Match 6
3rd / 4th place Decider: Loser Match 5 - Loser Match 6
5th / 6th place Decider: Winner Match 7 - Winner Match 8
7th / 8th place Decider: Loser Match 7 - Loser Match 8

Although it is not clear how matches map onto the above format, the following fixtures have been announced for the first round of games:

24/02/2006 Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku - Kobe FC 1970
24/02/2006 Rosso Kumamoto - Sanyo Electric Tokushima
24/02/2006 Fagiano Okayama - Banditonce Kobe
24/02/2006 Nangoku Kochi - FC Ryukyu

The 2005 competition finished as follows:

1 Mitsubishi Mizushima
2 Nangoku Kochi
3 Honda Lock
4 AS Laranja Kyoto
5 Ain Food
6 Ehime Shimanami
7 Hiroshima Fujita
8 Okinawa Kariyushi

25/02/2005 Honda Lock 1-0 Ain Food
25/02/2005 Mitsubishi Mizushima 4-0 Okinawa Kariyushi
25/02/2005 AS Laranja Kyoto 3-2 Ehime Shimanami
25/02/2005 Nangoku Kochi 4-3 Hiroshima Fujita SC

26/02/2005 Ain Food 6-0 Hiroshima Fujita SC
26/02/2005 Ehime Shimanami 3-1 Okinawa Kariyushi
26/02/2005 Nangoku Kochi 2-2 Honda Lock (PK 4-3)
26/02/2005 Mitsubishi Mizushima 3-1 AS Laranja Kyoto

27/02/2005 Honda Lock 2-0 AS Laranja Kyoto
27/02/2005 Mitsubishi Mizushima 3-0 Nangoku Kochi
27/02/2005 Hiroshima Fujita SC 2-1 Okinawa Kariyushi
27/02/2005 Ain Food 3-1 Ehime Shimanami
Sagawa Chugoku In Sagawa Sports Festival
Hiroshima-based Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku of the Chugoku League have been competing with other clubs in the Sagawa Kyubin distribution company in what is described as the preliminary round of their own Sagawa Sports Festival. It appears that Chugoku contested no fewer than three games on the same day - 5th February - with results as follows:

Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku 1-4 Sagawa Kyubin Kyushu
Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku 4-0 Sagawa Kyubin Shikoku
Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku 15-0 Sagawa Kyubin Hokuriku

Consequently, Chugoku now go through to compete in the next stage at the beginning of May.
Jubilo Squeeze Out Rosso
New JFL side Rosso Kumamoto narrowly lost to J1 giants Jubilo Iwata in a further pre-season practice game in Kagoshima on Friday. The match was played over the normal ninety minutes plus an additional period of half an hour, with Jubilo claiming a 4-3 final score.
V Varen Hold Yokohama
Likely Kyushu League title challengers V Varen Nagasaki hosted a friendly with J2 side Yokohama FC on Friday - a 30 mins x 4 quarters match that nevertheless ended in a goalless draw.
Friendly Results
In two friendly games played on Wednesday involving JFL teams, Honda FC lost 1-0 at home to J2 side Montedio Yamagata - whose goal came in the second half from striker Ryosuke Nemoto - while Ryutsu Keizai University went down 3-0 to local rivals Mito Hollyhock.
FC Kariya Launch New Logo
After releasing details for their 2006 playing staff, JFL side FC Kariya have taken care of more important things by launching their club logo. And this is it:

08 Feb 06 - FC Kariya's new logo

Oh dear oh dear oh dear
Fagiano Okayama Aim For 5000 Fans
Chugoku League side Fagiano Okayama have been particularly quiet since their disappointing showing in the Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off tournament in November, when the team failed to win through to the JFL. The club's supporters, hopeful that they will be able to ride the developing wave of potential J-League sides over the next few years, have been despondent at what they regard as an apparent lack of progress not only in terms of developing the squad, but also as far as organising a home ground that Fagiano might use on a regular basis.

Stadium building projects in other parts of Japan have been eyed jealously, given that their own club were forced to play their 2005 home games at several different venues throughout Okayama prefecture last season. Such instability, the fans feel, makes it difficult to attract new followers in greater numbers and indeed may ultimately prevent Fagiano from moving up the pyramid to the J-League. Some supporters have therefore called for pressure to be put on the local council to designate 2006 as a Year Of Football, in which priority might be given to finding a location within Okayama for a would-be professional side to play.

In the light of the J-League's recent pronouncement that clubs keen to enter an expanding J2 over the coming seasons will be required to have an average home crowd of more than 3000, Fagiano have nevertheless stated that they are working towards developing their fanbase to a level of 5000 - a step up indeed from 2005, when their highest attendance in the Chugoku League was in the region of only 400.
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