Japanese Non-league Football News

JFL Round 2 Sunday Games
If the JFL got off to a good start last weekend, with the imaginative double-header at Toyama Stadium featuring both YKK AP and Alo's Hokuriku - plus of course title favourites' Tochigi SC's 3-2 win over newcomers FC Ryukyu in front of a huge crowd - the Round 2 fixtures on Sunday were more a case of lighting a blue touchpaper and retiring as quickly as possible. At the top of the fledgling table now are Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo, who took advantage of an error-strewn home performance from FC Kariya to crash in six goals without reply, no fewer than four coming from ex-Yokohama FC man Tetsuya Okubo.

27 Mar 06 - FC Kariya prepare to have the smiles wiped off their faces

FC Kariya prepare to have the smiles wiped off their faces

Level with Sagawa Tokyo with two wins out of two are the aforementioned YKK AP and Alo's, who both obtained excellent away wins at league newcomers JEF Club and FC Ryukyu respectively, more than 2000 people witnessing the Okinawan club's JFL home debut. The other new team, Rosso Kumamoto, gained a narrow win over Sagawa Kyubin Osaka, the only goal of the game being a cracking long-range effort from Masahiko Kumagai.

Also maintaining a 100% record at this early stage of the season were Tochigi SC, 2-1 winners at poor Mitsubishi Mizushima. The Okayama-based club have a nightmarishly difficult fixture list just at the moment and when Kotaro Takamatsu equalised against Tochigi with only eight minutes to go, their fans thought they were on the way to a much-needed point after having been subjected to real mauling last week against Honda FC. But almost immediately, striker Tomohiro Sano grabbed a winner for Tochigi - and it looks like being another very difficult year for Mizushima.

27 Mar 06 - Yuichi Sone gets in a shot for Mitsubishi Mizushima

Yuichi Sone gets in a shot for Mitsubishi Mizushima against Tochigi SC

Game of the day, however, was down in Miyazaki, where locals Honda Lock were 3-0 down at half-time against their parent company team Honda FC. All looked dead and buried for last season's strugglers Lock, but astonishingly after just twenty minutes of the second period they were 4-3 ahead, with goals from Yushi Asada (2), Norita Ochiai and Hiroki Hidaka. Honda's quality paid off in the end, though, and three more goals in the last sixteen minutes - including two for marksman Junya Nitta - claimed a remarkable 6-4 win.

27 Mar 06 - Junya Nitta receives the congratulations of his Honda FC team-mates

Junya Nitta receives the congratulations of his Honda FC team-mates

FC Kariya 0-6 Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo
FC Ryukyu 2-4 Alo's Hokuriku
Honda Lock 4-6 Honda FC
JEF Club 0-3 YKK AP
Mitsubishi Mizushima 1-2 Tochigi SC
Rosso Kumamoto 1-0 Sagawa Kyubin Osaka
SC Tottori 1-1 Arte Takasaki
Sagawa Printing 1-1 Yokogawa Musashino

Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo 6 (+8)
YKK AP 6 (+5)
Honda FC 6 (+4)
Alo's Hokuriku 6 (+3)
Tochigi SC 6 (+2)
Arte Takasaki 4 (+2)
Yokogawa Musashino 4 (+2)
Sagawa Kyubin Osaka 3 (+2)
Ryutsu Keizai University 3 (+1)
Rosso Kumamoto 3 (-1)
SC Tottori 1 (-2)
Sagawa Printing 1 (-3)
Sony Sendai 1 (-3)
FC Kariya 1 (-6)
FC Ryukyu 0 (-3)
Mitsubishi Mizushima 0 (-3)
Honda Lock 0 (-4)
JEF Club 0 (-4)

JFL Round 2 Saturday Game
A remarkable result from the single JFL fixture to be played on Saturday, with the students of Ryutsu Keizai University notching their biggest-ever win in the top tier of Japanese non-league football. A brace from striker Hideaki Takeda helped them on the way to a 3-0 victory over Sony Sendai.

Ryutsu Keizai University 3-0 Sony Sendai

27 Mar 06 - RKU celebrate giving Sony Sendai a right good duffing up

RKU celebrate giving Sony Sendai a right good duffing up
JFL Tuesday Score
Yokogawa Musashino beat SC Tottori 2-0 in the one remaining first round JFL fixture of the season, played on Tuesday. Yosuke Kobayashi and Yasuo Katayama were on target for the Tokyo-based company outfit.

Yokogawa Musashino 2-0 SC Tottori

21 Mar 06 - Yokogawa Musashino midfielder Yasuo Katayama

Yokogawa Musashino midfielder Yasuo Katayama
JFL Round 1
And they're off! The most important season in the history of the JFL has now commenced, with a fascinating series of opening round matches taking place across the country on Sunday. Pre-season favourites Tochigi SC just triumphed in the game of the day, twice coming from behind to beat new boys FC Ryukyu with the winner coming from Satoshi Takahide fourteen minutes from time. A stunning crowd of 6153 people attended the game at the Tochigi Green Stadium. The double-header in Toyama was the other focus of attention for fans of the Japanese non-league game, as last year's surprise runners-up YKK AP eased past ambitious Rosso Kumamoto 3-1, before neighbours Alo's Hokuriku claimed a 1-0 win over the last of the newly-promoted teams, JEF Club.

20 Mar 06 - Goal celebration time for Tochigi SC's Kentaro Yoshida

Goal celebration time for Tochigi SC's Kentaro Yoshida

Elsewhere, star striker Kodai Suzuki's 24th-minute goal set Honda FC on their way to a 2-0 win over Mitsubishi Mizushima, while Arte Takasaki and Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo both gained victories by the same scoreline over Ryutsu Keizai University and Honda Lock respectively. FC Kariya picked up a good point in a 1-1 draw at Sony Sendai - a match that they led for almost an hour - but the early leaders of the JFL are Sagawa Kyubin Osaka, who beat Sagawa Printing 3-0.

20 Mar 06 - Hak Sun Fang sets the ball rolling for YKK AP against Rosso Kumamoto

Hak Sun Fang sets the ball rolling for YKK AP against Rosso Kumamoto

YKK AP 3-1 Rosso Kumamoto
Alo's Hokuriku 1-0 JEF Club
Tochigi SC 3-2 FC Ryukyu
Honda FC 2-0 Mitsubishi Mizushima
Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo 2-0 Honda Lock
Sony Sendai 1-1 FC Kariya
Arte Takasaki 2-0 Ryutsu Keizai University
Sagawa Kyubin Osaka 3-0 Sagawa Printing
Ryukyu Demolish Kaiho / Friendlies
Some further friendly matches to report on, as on Sunday JFL newcomers FC Ryukyu destroyed last year's Kyushu League rivals Kaiho Bank SC 9-1 over three periods of 45 minutes... Honda FC went one better, overcoming Yokkaichi University 9-0, the goals coming from Junya Nitta (3), strike partner Kodai Suzuki (3), Daiju Kawashima (2) and defender Mitsuru Mukojima... meanwhile on Tuesday, Arte Takasaki beat Jobu University 2-1 - a victory which the busy fellows then followed up with a 6-2 drubbing of Rissho University played over 45mins x 3... and on Wednesday, Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo gained a 1-1 draw with a Yokohama F Marinos XI.
From Singapore To Mizushima
Mitusbishi Mizushima have announced the signing from Albirex Niigata Singapore of defender Takeru Arai. In the meantime, the Okayama prefecture-based club have indicated that they are targetting a 14th-place finish in this season's expanded JFL.
J-League Associate Membership - More Details Announced
Some more information has been announced about the J-League's newly-approved plan to offer associate membership to non-league clubs who meet particular criteria and who have the intention of applying for J-League membership. At the JFL's season opening ceremony at JFA headquarters on Sunday, five JFL clubs - namely Tochigi SC, SC Tottori, Arte Takasaki, FC Ryukyu and Rosso Kumamoto - indicated that they were moving towards associate membership, while it is thought that Rosso are already in a position to achieve such a status when it becomes available on 1st May.

14 Mar 06 - Here come the men in suits...

Here come the men in suits... the JFL coaches meet

It is thought that in the future, it will not be possible for non-league clubs to apply for J-League membership without first becoming associate members. Moreover, clubs need to be at at least Regional League level, to have a suitable home stadium and to be independent corporations. Associate members will then be able to take advantage of advisers whose purpose is to guide them towards full J-League membership.

This however seems to open the door for clubs to achieve promotion direct from the Regional Leagues to the J-League itself, bypassing the JFL altogether, although it is understood that stipulations with regard to average crowd size and annual budget will apply equally to Regional League teams as they would to clubs in the JFL.
Sunday Friendlies
Lots of friendly matches from Sunday to report on... Yokogawa Musashino beat Hokushinetsu League title holders Nagano Elsa 5-2 with goals from new forward Kohei Iwata, Tomoaki Kimura, Seiji Ishikawa, Soni Yun and Goichi Ueno... Arte Takasaki continued their good pre-season results with a 1-0 win over a Shonan Bellmare XI, the scorer being midfielder Asahi Yamamoto... Alo's Hokuriku drew 1-1 with an Albirex Niigata side... Hideki Nishimura was on target for SC Tottori, but they went down 2-1 to Tokushima Vortis... and Tochigi SC and Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo drew 0-0.

14 Mar 06 - Tochigi SC in yellow against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo

Tochigi SC in yellow against Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo
More Friendly Scores
... Honda Lock beat local students Miyazaki Business Admin University 3-1 on Thursday... Sony Sendai lost 2-1 to J2ers Montedio Yamagata on Saturday, the same day as Yokogawa Musashino won 3-2 against JFL newcomers JEF Club.
Kanto League Team List 2006
English name - Japanese name - 2005 finishing position

Division 1

Hanno Bruder - 飯能ブルーダー - Division 2 winners
Luminozo Sayama - ルミノッソ狭山 - Division 1 champions
MSDF Atsugi Marcus - MSDF 厚木マーカス - 4th
Saitama SC - 埼玉SC - 3rd
Toho Titanium - 東邦チタニウム - 5th
Toshiba Fuchu - 東芝府中 - 2nd, Division 2
Yaita SC - 矢板SC - 7th
YSCC - YSCC - 6th

Division 2

All-Kamisu SC - オールカミス SC or 全神栖SC - 2nd, Ibaraki Prefectural League
Aries FC - エリース FC - 8th, Division 1
FC Machida Zelvia - FC町田ゼルビア - Tokyo Prefectural League champions
Furukawa Electrics Chiba - 古河電工千葉 - 7th
Hitachi Tochigi - 日立栃木ウーヴァSC - 3rd
Kanagawa Teachers - 神奈川県教員 - 5th
Nirasaki Astros - 韮崎アストロス - 4th
Ome FC - 青梅FC - 6th
Grulla Appoint New Coach
Regular readers of JNFN will know that the site has been keeping a close eye on events at Tohoku League side Grulla Morioka over the last few months. Like Shizuoka FC, they too aimed but failed to try and win a JFL spot in the play-offs at the end of 2005 - but it has since emerged that Grulla's financial basis is less sound than that of their Tokai League rivals and there has been genuine concern among fans that they would be unable to fulfil their fixtures at Regional level this coming season.

Some better news, however. The club have recently appointed a new coach in place of the departed Shinji Muto. Toru Yoshida is 40 and a local from Iwate prefecture whose fairly brief J-League career comprised 43 games with JEF United, before moving on to Brummel Sendai, forerunners of current J2 outfit Vegalta Sendai. Yoshida retired in 1997 and then spent a couple of seasons as coach with JFL neighbours Sony Sendai before moving into the youth team coaching set-up at Omiya Ardija. He takes up a year's contract with Grulla at the beginning of April.
Shizuoka FC - A New Start
Given the supporters' discintent following the failure of Shizuoka FC to gain promotion to the JFL at the end of last year, it's unsurprising that coach Yoshika Matsubara should have lost his job as the club look to compete in the 2006 Tokai League Division 1 with the up-and coming FC Gifu. Matsubara's replacement is Masaaki Takada, formerly with Sony Sendai and someone who had previously spent time in the J-League with Yokohama Flugels, Vissel Kobe and Yokohama FC. 32-year-old Takada takes on the role of player-coach, working alongside technical adviser Yasutoshi Miura - brother of Japanese legend "King" Kazu.
From Yamaguchi To The J-League
The 2005 season saw the Yamaguchi Teachers club struggle to give a good account of themselves in the Chugoku League. With just one win throughout their league campaign, unsurprisingly the men in orange finished bottom of the table and it was only the narrowest of play-off victories over New Nippon Oil Mizushima in December that enabled them to avoid the drop down to the Yamaguchi Prefectural League for the forthcoming season.

But despite this, the football bug is biting hard across the south and west of Japan. The Kyushu League has emerged as the most competitive Regional League in recent years, from which Rosso Kumamoto and FC Ryukyu have both emerged to this year's JFL with a clear eye on bringing professional, J-League football to their corners of the country. In 2006, V Varen Nagasaki and New Wave Kitakyushu will both be fighting hard to make the same jump, looking to the likes of Ehime FC and Tokushima Vortis on the island of Shikoku as examples of teams from comparatively remote, provincial cities who have nevertheless organised and developed themselves to take a place in J2.

10 Mar 06 - Yamaguchi Top FC's promo image

Yamaguchi Top FC's promo image

In the Chugoku League, Fagiano Okayama and Shimane's newly-promoted FC Central de Chugoku were seen as the best examples of this new breed of local but ambitious club, aiming in effect to be the J-League franchise for their respective prefectures. The likes of Yamaguchi Teachers have barely featured on any radar of potential pro sides - until now. For the Yamaguchi FA are supporting the development of a team, based upon the Teachers club, that will aim to achieve J2 status in around six to eight years' time.

An initial target for the new team - to be called temporarily Yamaguchi Top FC, although suggestions from the public have been invited for a longer-term name - is to win the Chugoku League in 2006 and so earn a place in the Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off at the end of the year. That means overcoming not only Fagiano and FC Central but also the other strongest teams in the league, 2005 champions Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku and the experienced Hiroshima Fujita SC.

It's with this in mind that the organisers behind Yamaguchi Top have organised a selection process for new players in the middle of March, through which they're seeking to recruit between five and ten additions to the existing Teachers' squad. While it seems unlikely that this will enable them to make up the gap between themselves and even the top of their own Regional League quite so quickly, in fact the management are realistic enough not to be thinking of winning a JFL spot before 2010. So although it all seems somewhat hazy at the moment, the J-League are actively seeking to expand and do have a long-term aim of pro football in every prefecture in Japan. And just maybe, the journey to the big time from one of the most rural parts of the country starts now.
JFL Poster
07 Mar 06 - JFL poster

The 2006 season JFL poster
Mizushima & Tottori Friendly / Arte Triumph
Arte Takasaki overcame J1 side Omiya Ardija 2-0 in a friendly on Sunday... Mitsubishi Mizushima and SC Tottori drew 0-0...

06 Mar 06 - Mizushima in red take on JFL hopefuls SC Tottori

Mizushima in red take on JFL hopefuls SC Tottori
Wednesday Friendlies
Two goalless draws in the JFL-related pre-season friendlies on Wednesday, as FC Ryukyu hosted Gamba Osaka and Mito Hollyhock travelled to Sony Sendai.
Another Route To The J-League Opens Up?
J-League chairman Masaru Suzuki has indicated some possible changes to the way that the J-League is expanded over the coming few years, which differ from the most recent announcements as issued a couple of months ago. The most important of these new ideas could potentially have an enormous impact upon JFL and Regional League clubs, in that even though there are no plans to alter the target of 22 clubs in J2 (the new schedule suggests that the J-League will now aim to increase J1 to twenty teams rather than maintain the current eighteen), it will conceivably be possible for clubs to be promoted to J2 from leagues other than just the JFL, if the J-League's requirements are in place.

Moreover, clubs seeking full membership are now eligible for associate membership of the J-League, if their management by full-time executive directors is sound. The newly- established J-League's Advisor Team has been set up in order to aid Associate Members' entry into J2. Rosso Kumamoto, FC Ryukyu and Tochigi SC are the most likely beneficiaries of this arrangement.
New Season, New Wave, New Hope
It seemed as if after a sudden burst of activity during the last couple of years, things would be quietening down again for 2006 as far as the Kyushu League was concerned. After all, since 2004, Honda Lock, FC Ryukyu and Rosso Kumamoto have all made the jump up to the JFL - and to all intents and purposes the feeling was that, with those teams effectively out of the way, the level of competition in Kyushu had peaked. V Varen Nagasaki were looking like hot favourites, with clubs such as Volca Kagoshima and New Wave Kitakyushu apparently lagging some way behind.

01 Mar 06 - New Wave Kitakyushu look forward to the 2006 season

New Wave Kitakyushu look forward to the 2006 season

But that idea has been blown out of the water following the announcement of Kitakyushu's squad for the forthcoming season. They have made a number of big -name signings from different parts of the J-League, most notably the hugely experienced veteran defender / midfielder Hiroyoshi Kuwahara from Albirex Niigata, but also 31-year-old midfield player Jun Mizukoshi from J1 newcomers Ventforet Kofu and three new players from J2. The club cannot match the budget of Rosso or Ryukyu from last season, but their intention is clearly on following them into the JFL as soon as they can. Look out V Varen.

New Wave Kitakyushu 2006 Squad

1 Katsuhiro Nishioka - GK - 10 Jul 74 - 174cm - 68kg - NSC八幡
2 Tsuyoshi Moriwaki - DF - 09 May 79 - 172cm - 68kg - Sagawa Kyubin Osaka
3 Masato Yamasaki - DF - 07 Apr 1980 - 174cm - 66kg - Mito Hollyhock
4 Daisuke Ueno - DF - 17 Feb 82 - 182cm - 73kg - Fukuoka U
5 Hiroyoshi Kuwahara - DF - 02 Oct 71 - 180cm - 72kg - Albirex Niigata
6 Jun Mizukoshi - MF - 10 Jan 75 - 171cm - 69kg - Ventforet Kofu
7 Ryuji Otsuka - MF - 01 Apr 80 - 171cm - 65kg - Alouette Kumamoto
8 Tomoki Hidaka - MF - 06 Apr 80 - 171cm - 65kg - Fukuoka U of Education
9 Junya Handa - FW - 23 Nov 84 - 174cm - 67kg - Seinan Gakuin U
10 Korehito Morimoto - MF - 09 Feb 82 - 172cm - 64kg - Alouette Kumamoto
11 Daisuke Miyakawa - FW - 06 Oct 79 - 181cm - 83kg - Thespa Kusatsu
13 Yohei Yamamoto - MF - 10 Jun 78 - 173cm - 67kg - Alouette Kumamoto
14 Hirotoshi Yamada - DF - 30 May 85 - 168cm - 63kg - Isahaya Commercial HS
15 Shunsuke Teshima - DF - 09 Jul 80 - 178cm - 71kg - Lanza Kumamoto
16 Kenichi Murayama - DF - 26 Jan 83 - 183cm - 76kg - Daiichi U
17 Takeya Shirozai - MF - 14 Sep 82 - 180cm - 68kg - Kyushu Kyoritsu U
18 Shingi Ono - MF - 09 Apr 74 - 178cm - 71kg - Yokohama FC
19 Kazuki Koga - FW - 26 Sep 84 - 174cm - 63kg - Hannan U
20 Shinji Yoshino - DF - 27 Apr 83 - 173cm - 65kg - Kyushu Kyoritsu U
21 Katsumi Nakamura - GK - 26 Jan 84 - 190cm - 83kg - Osaka Sangyo U
22 Shun Ichimura - DF - 17 Oct 86 - 174cm - 62kg - Horikoshi HS
23 Yukinori Ueda - FW - 03 Jul 85 - 182cm - 75kg - Takamatsu FC
24 Shinji Morita - MF - 24 Jun 87 - 172cm - 60kg - Horikoshi HS
25 Masashi Oba - GK - 02 Nov 83 - 181cm - 78kg - Daiichi U
26 Tatsuki Nagamine - FW - 23 Jan 80 - 170cm - 65kg - Shizuoka FC
31 Yuya Funatsu - GK - 22 Nov 83 - 181cm - 75kg - Rosso Kumamoto
Mitsubishi Mizushima - Mixed Matches
Two friendlies on the same day for the busy fellows of JFLers Mitsubishi Mizushima on Tuesday, as they took on Kansai League Division 1 side Sanyo Electric Sumoto and Kohga School, from Division 2 of the same Regional League. Goals from strike pair Kotaro Takamatsu and Koji Takahata gave the Okayama-prefecture based club a 2-0 win over Sanyo, but a Ryuta Takabatake strike couldn't save them from a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Kohga students.
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