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Arte In Friendly Win
Arte Takasaki, currently undefeated an lying in fifth spot in the JFL, recorded an 8-3 win on Tuesday in a friendly game with Jobu University. The big guns' goals came from Betto (2), Daichi Asano (2), new midfielder Yohei Takasu (2), Takuya Abe and Kunioki Kawawa. In their next league game on Sunday, Arte travel to Sagawa Kyubin Osaka.
Hokushinetsu League Preview 2006
Ferverosa

From the city of Matto in Ishikawa prefecture, Ferverosa are on their third name in just five seasons of playing Hokushinetsu League football, having spent a couple of years being known rather memorably as Matto Orange Monkey and then as plain old Matto FC. They have made gradual rather than spectacular improvement in the meantime and have the long-term aim of winning a place in the JFL. In 2006, however, their main challenge will be to break into top three places, over which Japan Soccer College, Nagano Elsa and Kanazawa SC have had a stranglehold in recent seasons.

05 Apr 06 - Ferverosa's Matto Sports Park

Ferverosa's Matto Sports Park

Japan Soccer College

A unique institution in Japan, JSC is an educational foundation and at the same time forms a part of the youth set-up at J1 side Albirex Niigata. Since joining the Hokushinetsu League in 2003 the College of Upward Players in Soccer – as they are also on occasions known – have proved to be highly competitive opponents, winning the League at the first attempt and coming second in 2004 and 2005. It is conceivable that they could have won last year as well, but a narrow home defeat late on in the year to Nagano Elsa cost them dear. Possible champions this time around, although Zweigen Kanazawa’s improved squad may prove too great an obstacle.


Matsumoto Yamaga Club

Formed in 1965, Yamaga Club have been members of the Hokushinetsu League since it started a decade later, although they have won the title only once – in 1985 – and have spent the last couple of seasons in Division 2. But since around 2002, the Ptarmigans have been gearing themselves to make a play for J-League membership, developing an infrastructure to support the magnificent Alwin Stadium to which they have access in their home base in the south of Nagano prefecture. Promoted back to Division 1 for 2006, the ambitious club are coached by Keiju Karashima – who has played extensively in the J-League playing experience and was most recently on the staff of Kashiwa Reysol’s youth team – but may lack the experience to make another push for promotion just yet.


Nagano Elsa

Along with Matsumoto Yamaga Club, Nagano Elsa are jockeying for position as the number one candidate for a J-League franchise in Nagano prefecture. Formed more recently than their local rivals, in 1990, they eventually gained promotion from the Prefectural League in 1996 and since 2002 have become one of the top teams in the Hokushinetsu League. 2005 saw Elsa win the championship for the second time – and in extraordinarily dramatic circumstances, when a 6-1 crushing of then-leaders Kanazawa SC saw them move into pole position with a single game to go. They were somewhat outclassed when it came to the Play-offs for a JFL spot, but will be in the race again this year.

05 Apr 06 - The mighty Niigata University of Management

The mighty Niigata University of Management

Niigata University of Management

There are few examples now of Higher Education institutions fielding teams outside of the Japanese college football structure, but Niigata University of Management are making a pretty reasonable job at straddling that particular fence. The university itself was founded in the mid-90s and as well as playing in the Hokushinetsu University Regional League, in 2004 NUM entered the regular Hokushinetsu League Division 2. This they won at the first attempt and a 2-2 draw against Toyama Shinjo Club in a promotion / relegation play-off at the end of 2005 saw them retain their place in the top division. Nevertheless, they’re likely to struggle this season.


Teihens FC

Teihens FC’s participation in the Hokushinetsu League has been nothing if not consistent. Despite having competed every season since 1977, the Kanazawa prefecture-based club have taken the title only in 1991 – and they have been stuck in their normal lower-mid-table finishes virtually every season since that time. They were heading for relegation in 2005, but a remarkable spurt in the last three matches bagged the team ten goals while conceding only one to overhaul both Niigata University of Management and Ueda Gentian. But Teihens will be one of the teams fighting to avoid the drop come the end of 2006.


Ueda Gentian

From Nagano prefecture, Ueda Gentian were established in 1981 and until 1995 took part in the local Prefectural League. On winning promotion to the Hokushinetsu League, Ueda acquitted themselves well and by the turn of the century - following the promotion of Albirex Niigata, Alo’s Hokuriku and YKK - the club seemed to be becoming one of the strongest teams in the region. But the last few years have seen them fade from contention and in 2005 they finished sixth, a single place above a relegation play-off spot. Ueda Gentian’s chance would seem to have gone and they could be playing Division 2 football in a year’s time.

05 Apr 06 - Zweigen Kanazawa at the unveiling of their new first team squad

Guess who, at the unveiling of their new first team squad

Zweigen Kanazawa

One of the new major players on the Japanese Regional football scene, Zweigen Kanazawa were formed at the beginning of 2006 from the ashes of Kanazawa SC, with the aim of being the Hokushinetsu region’s second J-League team after Albirex Niigata. Following Kanazawa SC’s collapse during the 2005 run-in – in which they fell from first to third place over the last two matches – Zweigen are a re-launch of the original squad with added quality from several fringe J-League players, backed by major new sponsors. NHK football commentator Michel Miyazawa takes over as "supervisor", former Kanazawa boss Eiji Nagai working as coach under him; anything less than a Hokushinetsu League title will be failure.
Give Me Friendly Results, Or Elsa
Hokushinetsu League champions Nagano Elsa have released details of a number of pre-season friendlies that the club have taken part in, in preparation for what is likely to be a very difficult 2006 season. Scorelines are as follows:

19/02/2006 8-0 v Hanno Bruder (30 mins x 4)
04/03/2006 4-2 v Tsukuba University
04/03/2006 1-5 v Ryutsu Keizai University
12/03/2006 2-5 v Yokogawa Musashino
19/03/2006 2-1 v Thespa Kusatsu Reserves (30 mins x 3)
26/03/2006 1-0 v Saitama SC
26/03/2006 0-1 v Thespa Kusatsu Reserves (30 mins x 3)

Meanwhile, Ishikawa-based rivals Ferverosa have also issued details of their pre-season games, as follows...

22/01/2006 2-2 v FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu (30mins x 4)
12/02/2006 4-2 v Neoariba (35 mins x 4)
25/02/2006 0-1 v Konica Minolta
26/02/2006 0-1 v Toyota Football Group
12/03/2006 3-1 v Kansai University
21/03/2006 2-1 v Kanazawa University
25/03/2006 1-2 v Fujieda City Hall
26/03/2006 4-0 v Oigawa Town Hall

04 Apr 06 - Head coach Toshiki Matsui oversees Ferverosa's demolition of Oigawa Town Hall

Head coach Toshiki Matsui oversees Ferverosa's demolition of Oigawa Town Hall
JFL Sunday Scores - Round 3
A quick round-up of the scores from Sunday's JFL matches. Honda FC and YKK AP followed YKK's Toyama rivals Alo's Hokuriku in maintaining their 100% start to the seasons with home wins against FC Kariya and FC Ryukyu respectively, although top of the pile after three games are goal crazy Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo. They beat Ryutsu Keizai University 5-1, with star striker Tetsuya Okubo getting another goal to take his tally so far this season to six.

04 Apr 06 -  Arte Takasaki line up before their match on the beach against Sagawa Printing

Arte Takasaki line up before their match on the beach against Sagawa Printing

Title favourites Tochigi SC surprisingly dropped two points at home to Honda Lock, Rosso Kumamoto needed a late Mitsuhiro Seki effort to get past fellow newcomers JEF Club and in the other game, Kazushi Isoyama's goal midway through the first half gave the points to Arte Takasaki at home to Sagawa Printing.

YKK AP 1-0 FC Ryukyu
Tochigi SC 0-0 Honda Lock
Honda FC 2-0 FC Kariya
Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo 5-1 Ryutsu Keizai University
Arte Takasaki 1-0 Sagawa Printing
Rosso Kumamoto 1-0 JEF Club

04 Apr 06 - Kento Hori (blue) leads Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo to the top of the JFL

Kento Hori (blue) leads Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo to the top of the JFL

1 Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo 9 (+12)
2 Alo's Hokuriku 9 (+7)
3 Honda FC 9 (+6)
4 YKK AP 9 (+6)
5 Arte Takasaki 7 (+3)
6 Tochigi SC 7 (+2)
7 Rosso Kumamoto 6 (-)
8 Yokogawa Musashino 5 (+2)
9 Sagawa Kyubin Osaka 4 (+2)
10 Ryutsu Keizai University 3 (-3)
11 SC Tottori 2 (-2)
12 Sony Sendai 2 (-3)
13 Honda Lock 1 (-4)
14 Sagawa Printing 1 (-4)
15 FC Kariya 1 (-8)
16 FC Ryukyu 0 (-4)
17 JEF Club 0 (-5)
18 Mitsubishi Mizushima 0 (-7)
Kyushu League - Round 2
The scores from today's second round of Kyu League matches, on a busy weekend in Okinawa:

Sun 02 Apr: Osumi NIFS United 1-3 Nippon Steel Oita
Sun 02 Apr: Nanakuma Tombies 0-3 V Varen Nagasaki
Sun 02 Apr: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki 0-3 Volca Kagoshima
Sun 02 Apr: Okinawa Kariyushi 4-2 New Wave Kitakyushu

04 Apr 06 - Scorer of Okinawa Kariyushi's fourth goal, defender Kenichi Hori

Scorer of Okinawa Kariyushi's fourth goal, defender Kenichi Hori

1 Nippon Steel Oita 6 (+5)
2 Okinawa Kariyushi 6 (+4)
3 Volca Kagoshima 6 (+4)
4 V Varen Nagasaki 3 (+3)
5 New Wave Kitakyushu 3 (-1)
6 Kaiho Bank SC 0 (-2)
7 Osumi NIFS United 0 (-3)
8 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki 0 (-4)
9 Nanakuma Tombies 0 (-6)
Kyushu League - Round 1
The Kyushu League 2006 season kicked off in Okinawa on Saturday, with a second round of matches to follow on Sunday. Results are as follows:

Sat 01 Apr: Nippon Steel Oita 4-1 Nanakuma Tombies
Sat 01 Apr: Kaiho Bank SC 1-3 Okinawa Kariyushi
Sat 01 Apr: Volca Kagoshima 3-2 Osumi NIFS United
Sat 01 Apr: New Wave Kitakyushu 1-0 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki

04 Apr 06 - New Wave's Manabu Kubota (middle) tries to rob a small boy of the ball

New Wave's Manabu Kubota (middle) tries to rob a small boy of the ball v Mitsubishi
JFL - Round 3 Saturday Scores
Just three scores to report on from Saturday in the JFL. Alo's Hokuriku maintain their 100% record in the new season with a 4-0 win over hapless - some would say hopeless - Mitsubishi Mizushima, who remain rock bottom of the table as a result. Elsewhere, Yokogawa Musashino drew 0-0 with Sagawa Kyubin Osaka, as did Sony Sendai with SC Tottori. Hmmm.

Alo's Hokuriku 4-0 Mitusbishi Mizushima
Yokogawa Musashino 0-0 Sagawa Kyubin Osaka
Sony Sendai 0-0 SC Tottori

04 Apr 06 - A packed Toyama Stadium before the Alo's - Mizushima match

A packed Toyama Stadium before the Alo's - Mizushima match
Kyu League Preview 2006
The Kyushu League commences over this coming weekend and with the promotion last season of Rosso Kumamoto and FC Ryukyu, there is a strong possibility that a new club or two can come and make a challenge for a place on a national stage from one of Japan's footballing hotbeds. JNFN here presents a view of the nine teams participating in this years's competition.


Kaiho Bank SC

One of the smaller clubs in the Kyu League, Kaiho Bank’s players are as one might imagine taken mostly from the staff of a financial institution in their Okinawa base. Following an abortive first appearance above prefectural level in 2000 which saw them pick up just eight points in the season, the club have since become better-established in the Kyu League and a cut above the real minnows. Once again, though, they will find it difficult to feature in the top half of the division - but if Kaiho can manage to finish within a few points of Nippon Steel Oita, 2006 will have been a success.


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki

The evocatively-named Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki club dates back as far as 1947, a time when their parent company were instrumental in setting up a number of football teams for their recreation-starved employees at locations across Japan. But Mitsubishi corporate policy generally dictates that playing staff still be required to carry out factory shift work and, despite having been members of the Kyu League almost without interruption for more than two decades, the best performance the club can muster is a couple of third-placed finishes. This year they will most likely be struggling once again, just above the foot of the table.


Nanakuma Tombies

Newly-promoted champions of the Fukuoka Prefectural League, the somewhat mysterious Nanakuma Tombies are facing in 2006 their first-ever season of Regional League football. The team overcame the challenge of Oita's Yabakei FC and Kumamoto Teachers in the play-offs in January to win through to the Kyu League. Their ambition now will be simply to compete with the league's smaller teams - Osumi NIFS United, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki, Okinawa Kariyushi - and try to avoid the drop. Relegation favourites.


New Wave Kitakyushu

New Wave Kitakyushu took on their magnificent name as recently as 2001, when they came out of the Mitsubishi company structure and became a community-based club. As Mitsubishi Chemicals Kurosaki, they were founder members of the Kyu League in 1973 and have won the championship seven times, but despite aiming for a JFL spot have often found themselves crowded out by better-organised and more aggressively-financed clubs. With the likes of former Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Albirex Niigata lynchpin Hiroyoshi Kuwabara on board, however, the 2006 squad has been considerably strengthened and now that Rosso Kumamoto and FC Ryukyu have moved on to better and brighter things, New Wave have to be considered as genuine contenders.


Nippon Steel Oita

J-League side Oita Trinita are a well-supported provincial outfit, but flying the flag at non-league level in the city are two-time winners of the Kyu League - and probably the best-organised of the local corporate clubs - Nippon Steel Oita (bizarrely, following on from their first title win in 1985 they were immediately relegated, spent 1987 bouncing back from the Prefectural League and took their second championship the very next year). The test for Nippon Steel in 2006, however, is to remain competitive in the face of the continued development of other clubs aiming for a JFL place, but they could yet cause a surprise or two.


Okinawa Kariyushi

Despite having won the Kyu League in 2002 and 2003, their subsequent narrow failure to reach the JFL sent Kariyushi into a spiral of decline - and the disaster of a second-place finish to Honda Lock in 2004 appeared to have dealt a fatal blow to the club as a going concern. With most of the first-team squad jumping ship to the likes of FC Ryukyu and the main sponsors bailing out just as rapidly, management nevertheless re-grouped prior to the 2005 season and to their credit put together a group of players based on the youth team of a couple of years before. Not surprisingly they struggled to compete, but in the end Kariyushi retained their Kyu League place and will seek to consolidate further this year.


Osumi NIFS United

A team representing the distinctly glamorous-sounding National Institute of Fitness & Sports in Kanoya, Kagoshima prefecture, Osumi NIFS won their local Prefectural League in 2005 and in the promotion play-offs fought past Oroku Club from Okinawa and Miyazaki's mighty Nobeoka City SC to regain the Kyu League place they had lost the previous year. During that single season at Regional level, they had found themselves to be outclassed - at one stage racking up a run of 7-0, 6-2, 6-2 and 7-1 defeats - and will be approaching 2006 with the intention of getting to grips with the higher standard.


V Varen Nagasaki

Formed at the beginning of 2005 out of Nagasaki Prefectural League outfit SC Ariake, V Varen have been set up with the express intention of bringing J-League football to their corner of Western Kyushu. They proved last year to be Rosso Kumamoto and FC Ryukyu's nearest challengers, which augurs well for a 2006 promotion challenge. Their squad boasts some JFL experience as well as former Avispa Fukuoka man Takeo Harada, and the fact that they managed to pull a crowd in excess of 6000 for one Kyu League game suggests that they have the infrastructure to make a go of it. Tied in with the fact that their budget has been boosted by 50% to the tune of \90m, V Varen are potential title winners.


Volca Kagoshima

Rather like New Wave Kitakyushu, it has appeared over the last few years that Volca Kagoshima are a club who just keep being overtaken in the race to the JFL. They have long been aiming to play on a higher stage, but it always seems to be someone else's year, as Rosso Kumamoto, Honda Lock, Okinawa Kariyushi and even Profesor Miyazaki have demonstrated in recent seasons. Originally formed as Kumamoto Teachers and as such were founder members of the Kyu League, the momentum sadly seems to have gone from their promotion bid - for Volca's 2006 squad looks capable of a top-half finish, but little more.
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