Japanese Non-league Football News

JFL Monday Scores
As reported yesterday here on JNFN, there were three JFL matches played on what was a holiday Monday - and all of them were in their own way quite remarkable affairs. The title race continues to be extremely close-fought, with Sagawa Kyubin SC knocking Rosso Kumamoto off top spot following a 5-0 away thrashing of JEF Reserves that included two goals for striker Sho Gokyu and a hat-trick for star midfielder Shogo Shimada.

The championship challenge of FC Gifu, on the other hand, seems to be fading rapidly and their 2-1 defeat at Ryutsu Keizai University leaves them well off the pace. But perhaps the most astonishing result of the day was down in Okinawa, where apparently out-of-form visitors TDK SC emphasised exactly what a terrible season FC Ryukyu are having by running in no fewer than eight goals without reply. Masatoshi Matsuda was the northerners' own hat-trick hero as they brought to an end their own poor run of results in emphatic style.

16 Jul 07 - TDK’s Masatoshi Matsuda

TDK’s Masatoshi Matsuda

Mon 16 Jul: FC Ryukyu 0-8 TDK SC
Mon 16 Jul: JEF Reserves 0-5 Sagawa Kyubin SC
Mon 16 Jul: Ryutsu Keizai University 2-1 FC Gifu

1. Sagawa Kyubin SC 48 (+30)
2. Rosso Kumamoto 46 (+23)
3. FC Gifu 37 (+10)
4. YKK AP 35 (+9)
5. Yokogawa Musashino 34 (+10)
6. Alo's Hokuriku 34 (+2)
7. JEF Reserves 32 (+2)
8. Honda FC 30 (+7)
9. Ryutsu Keizai University 27 (-1)
10. Tochigi SC 26 (+5)
11. Mitsubishi Mizushima 25 (-6)
12. Gainare Tottori 24 (-3)
13. TDK SC 23 (+1)
14. Sagawa Printing 23 (-10)
15. Sony Sendai 21 (-14)
16. FC Kariya 17 (-11)
17. FC Ryukyu 16 (-29)
18. Arte Takasaki 5 (-25)
JFL News In Brief
... strugglers FC Ryukyu have signed Kawasaki Frontale's 21-year-old central defender Masato Okubo on loan until the end of January...
Kyushu League
The typhoon conditions that have been affecting much of Japan throughout the weekend brought about the postponement of Saturday's relegation clash between Kumamoto Teachers and Nanakuma Tombies, together with the Okinawa Kariyushi against Nippon Steel Oita match. But the Kyushu League's top three teams were all in action - and they all managed to pick up maximum points, thus ensuring that the tension mounts yet further as the season nears its climax.

Still holding on to top spot are New Wave Kitakyushu, 1-0 winners against an in-form Volca Kagoshima who had won their six previous games. V Varen Nagasaki remain third a couple of points off the lead after they beat Volca's neighbours from National Institute of Fitness & Sports, Osumi NIFS United. Narrow favourites for the title, however, are probably Honda Lock - a 4-2 defeat of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki keeps the former JFL side in the fight, with a crucial game in hand.

16 Jul 07 - Mitsubishi Nagasaki scrap it out with those dreadful cheats Honda Lock

Mitsubishi Nagasaki scrap it out with those dreadful cheats Honda Lock

Sun 15 Jul: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki 2-4 Honda Lock
Sun 15 Jul: Osumi NIFS United 1-3 V Varen Nagasaki
Sun 15 Jul: Volca Kagoshima 0-1 New Wave Kitakyushu

1. New Wave Kitakyushu 40 (+41)
2. Honda Lock 39 (+47)
3. V Varen Nagasaki 38 (+54)
4. Nippon Steel Oita 31 (+16)
5. Volca Kagoshima 24 (-)
6. Okinawa Kariyushi 18 (-3)
7. Osumi NIFS United 13 (-15)
8. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki 13 (-26)
9. Kaiho Bank SC 9 (-51)
10. Kumamoto Teachers 6 (-25)
11. Nanakuma Tombies 3 (-54)
Kansai League Division 2
All the promotion and relegation issues are resolved in Division 2 of the Kansai League with one match still remaining. In their very first season of Regional League football, Hannan University took the title and move up to Division 1 for 2008, following their win over runners-up - and fellow promoted side - Takada FC. At the other end of the table, Kihoku Football Group have experienced a catastrophic year, as exemplified by their 9-0 crushing by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe, and they will definitely be playing in their local Prefectural League next year. Hermano Osaka will meanwhile participate in a relegation play-off as a result of finishing seventh via their 2-0 defeat by Kyoto Shiko Club. Riseisha FC are safe despite losing 4-0 at home to Kohga School.

Sat 14 Jul: Hermano Osaka 0-2 Kyoto Shiko Club
Sat 14 Jul: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe 9-0 Kihoku Football Group
Sat 14 Jul: Riseisha FC 0-4 Kohga School

Sun 15 Jul: Takada FC 1-2 Hannan University

1. Hannan University 33 (+45)
2. Takada FC 26 (+16)
3. Kyoto Shiko Club 20 (+11)
4. Kohga School 20 (+5)
5. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe 18 (+2)
6. Riseisha FC 16 (-8)
7. Hermano Osaka 11 (-17)
8. Kihoku Football Group 0 (-44)
Kansai League Division 1
Banditonce Kobe have been confirmed as champions of the Kansai League, following on from the penultimate round of fixtures staged over the weekend. On Saturday, Banditonce scored a comfortable 4-2 win over relegation-threatened neighbours Kobe FC 1970 that put them five points ahead of sole challengers FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu. But FC Mi-o's 1-1 draw at home to FC Kyoto 1993 on Sunday means that next week's end-of-year clash between the top two is now no more than a formality.

Third place belongs to Osaka company team Ain Food after they drew with AS Laranja Kyoto. The only real issue still to be decided is the identity of the second team to be relegated to Division 2. FC Glaspo Kashiwara have long been for the drop, having picked up only two points all year, but the fact that they lost 4-0 at home to Sanyo Electric Sumoto means that is not known whether either Sanyo or Kobe FC will join them in the lower flight for 2008.

Sat 14 Jul: Ain Food 1-1 AS Laranja Kyoto
Sat 14 Jul: Banditonce Kobe 4-2 Kobe FC 1970
Sat 14 Jul: FC Glaspo Kashiwara 0-4 Sanyo Electric Sumoto

Sun 15 Jul: FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu 1-1 FC Kyoto 1993

1. Banditonce Kobe 36 (+44)
2. FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu 32 (+39)
3. Ain Food 24 (+1)
4. AS Laranja Kyoto 19 (-12)
5. FC Kyoto 1993 16 (-3)
6. Sanyo Electric Sumoto 12 (-23)
7. Kobe FC 1970 10 (-15)
8. FC Glaspo Kashiwara 2 (-31)
JFL Sunday Score
A last-minute change in the schedule resulted in only one JFL fixture being staged on Sunday, with JEF Reserves' match at home to high-flying Sagawa Kyubin SC and Ryutsu Keizai University against FC Gifu joining FC Ryukyu and TDK SC on the slate for holiday Monday. The postponements were due to the typhoon conditions affecting many parts of Japan. But in the game that did take place, Rosso Kumamoto made the most of the situation to go top of the table by beating bottom side Arte Takasaki 2-1, both goals coming almost inevitably from star striker Yutaka Takahashi.

Sun 15 Jul: Arte Takasaki 1-2 Rosso Kumamoto

1. Rosso Kumamoto 46 (+23)
2. Sagawa Kyubin SC 45 (+25)
3. FC Gifu 37 (+11)
4. YKK AP 35 (+9)
5. Yokogawa Musashino 34 (+10)
6. Alo's Hokuriku 34 (+2)
7. JEF Reserves 32 (+7)
8. Honda FC 30 (+7)
9. Tochigi SC 26 (+5)
10. Mitsubishi Mizushima 25 (-6)
11. Ryutsu Keizai University 24 (-2)
12. Gainare Tottori 24 (-3)
13. Sagawa Printing 23 (-10)
14. Sony Sendai 21 (-14)
15. TDK SC 20 (-7)
16. FC Kariya 17 (-11)
17. FC Ryukyu 16 (-21)
18. Arte Takasaki 5 (-25)
JFL Saturday Scores
There were five JFL fixtures on Saturday, the most notable outcome being the contrasting results achieved by the two Toyama-based teams. YKK AP's recent impressive displays have seen them rise to fourth in the table, but they nevertheless fell to a 3-1 defeat at Gainare Tottori after finding themselves two down after just five minutes of the match. In the meantime, neighbours Alo's Hokuriku have quietly been rising up the table via an impressive run of results based on a watertight defence - and their 1-0 win over Tochigi SC means that they haven't conceded a single goal in the last five games.

Koji Murayama's last-minute winner helped Yokogawa Musashino to come from a goal down and beat Sony Sendai to go fifth and remain above Alo's on goal difference. 2006 title winners Honda FC would appear to have put behind them their extremely disappointing early-season form. A comfortable 3-1 win at lowly FC Kariya was the Shizuoka club's third win in a row and equally good news is that last season's Player of the Year Junya Nitta is once more finding the net. And Sagawa Printing's win over Mitsubishi Mizushima means that they climb further away from the foot of the table.

16 Jul 07 - Splashing around, Gainare Tottori and YKK AP

Splashing around, Gainare Tottori and YKK AP

Sat 14 Jul: Alo's Hokuriku 1-0 Tochigi SC
Sat 14 Jul: FC Kariya 1-3 Honda FC
Sat 14 Jul: Gainare Tottori 3-1 YKK AP
Sat 14 Jul: Sagawa Printing 2-1 Mitsubishi Mizushima
Sat 14 Jul: Sony Sendai 2-3 Yokogawa Musashino

1. Sagawa Kyubin SC 45 (+25)
2. Rosso Kumamoto 43 (+22)
3. FC Gifu 37 (+11)
4. YKK AP 35 (+9)
5. Yokogawa Musashino 34 (+10)
6. Alo's Hokuriku 34 (+2)
7. JEF Reserves 32 (+7)
8. Honda FC 30 (+7)
9. Tochigi SC 26 (+5)
10. Mitsubishi Mizushima 25 (-6)
11. Ryutsu Keizai University 24 (-2)
12. Gainare Tottori 24 (-3)
13. Sagawa Printing 23 (-10)
14. Sony Sendai 21 (-14)
15. TDK SC 20 (-7)
16. FC Kariya 17 (-11)
17. FC Ryukyu 16 (-21)
18. Arte Takasaki 5 (-24)
Miyagi's Cobaltore Aim For The Top
From Miyagi prefecture in the Tohoku region of northern Honshu comes news of yet another club currently in the lower reaches of Japan's footballing pyramid - but with their sights set on the J-League. Cobaltore Onagawa are riding high at the top of Division 1 of their prefectural league competition, despite the fact that their home town is a small and comparatively isolated coastal community of barely 10,000 people. Indeed, the football club acknowledge that one of the reasons why they were formed in early 2006 was with the intention of encouraging young people through football to remain living locally, as a means of countering the broad Japanese social issue of rural depopulation (their English-language slogan is "We create a new fun for a new active lifestyle").

Appointed as coach for Cobaltore's debut season was former Japan international midfield player Nobuo Fujishima, who spent a lengthy playing career in the pre-J-League JSL at the NKK company team and whose subsequent coaching career has included a number of years in charge of JFL outfit YKK AP. 2006 proved to be a successful start for the fledgling club, as they won every match of their Ishinomaki City League campaign before gaining promotion to the Prefectural League for 2007. Like many teams in a similar position across Japan, Cobaltore are aiming to reach the regional Tohoku League next year and the JFL by 2010 or 2011.
8th Eastern Japan Football Tournament

The fixture list has been made available for this weekend's 8th Eastern Japan Football Tournament, to be staged in the city of Kai in Yamanashi prefecture. There are six entrants, all fighting to inherit the title won last year by the representatives of the Tohoku region, TDK Akita, now better known as JFL side TDK SC:

Hokkaido: Norbritz Hokkaido
Hokushinetsu: Nagano Prefectural XI
Hosts: Yamanashi Prefectural XI
Kanto: Furukawa Electrics Chiba
Tohoku: Grulla Morioka
Tokai: Shizuoka FC

The fixtures are as follows:

Match Day 1

Sat 14 Jul: Match 1: Nagano Prefectural XI - Norbritz Hokkaido
Sat 14 Jul: Match 2: Shizuoka FC - Grulla Morioka

Match Day 2

Sun 15 Jul: Match 3: Yamanashi Prefectural XI - Winner, Match 1
Sun 15 Jul: Match 4: Furukawa Electrics Chiba - Winner, Match 2
Sun 15 Jul: 5th / 6th Place Play-off between the losers of Matches 1 & 2

Match Day 3

Mon 16 Jul: 3rd / 4th Place Play-off between the losers of Matches 3 & 4
Mon 16 Jul: Final between the winners of Matches 3 & 4
Grulla Plan Associate Membership
Tohoku League hopefuls Grulla Morioka are preparing to put in an application for associate membership of the J-League, the status that is currently a required stepping stone for non-league clubs targeting a place amongst the professionals. As has been covered previously here on JNFN, JFL sides Rosso Kumamoto, Tochigi SC, FC Gifu and Gainare Tottori are all in possession of associate membership and Fagiano Okayama of the Chugoku League have only in the last few weeks submitted their own application.

If successful, Fagiano will become the first Regional League team to be granted such status by the J-League. Somewhat ironically, Grulla's fellow Tohoku League side FC Perada Fukushima also applied earlier this year, but were turned down flat. J-League officials have in the meantime carried out an evidently positive site inspection of Grulla Morioka's proposed home stadium and the club plan to have the submission paperwork completed by March next year.
JFL News In Brief
... Mitsubishi Mizushima have signed two new midfield players from Yoshimi Kokusai University in 22-year-old Kota Toki and 23-year-old Jun Seto...
Tokai League Division 2
There were only two matches staged in Division 2 of the Tokai League over the weekend - and both highlighted the battle for second place and the second automatic promotion spot that is developing this season. Konica Minolta Toyokawa are six points ahead at the top of the table and would seem at this stage to have the title sewn up, but almost every other team apart from strugglers FC Kawasaki can consider themselves to be in contention.

Newcomers MIE Rampole were the big winners of the day and moved out of the relegation zone with a 4-1 beating of the Shizuoka prefecture teachers' team, Fuyo Club. But now occupying second spot are Toyota Football Group, whose 2-1 win over Nagoya Club took them past not only their opponents but also Mind House Yokkaichi to become Konica Minolta's nearest challengers.

09 Jul 07 - Fuyo Club in white fight a losing battle with MIE Rampole

Fuyo Club in white fight a losing battle with MIE Rampole

Sun 08 Jul: MIE Rampole 4-1 Fuyo Club
Sun 08 Jul: Toyota Football Group 2-1 Nagoya Club

1. Konica Minolta Toyokawa 17 (+11)
2. Toyota Football Group 11 (+2)
3. Nagoya Club 10 (+1)
4. Mind House Yokkaichi 10 (+2)
5. Fuyo Club 9 (-2)
6. MIE Rampole 8 (-)
7. Morishin's FC 7 (-8)
8. FC Kawasaki 2 (-6)
Tokai League Division 1
It's seven wins from seven now for Shizuoka FC at the top of the Tokai League Division 1, as the Kazu Miura-sponsored side squeezed past Honda Suzuka on Sunday. This keeps the favourites five points in front of neighbours Yazaki Valente, who also managed a narrow victory over bottom side Kasugai Club. The team most likely to give Yazaki any problems in qualifying as runners-up for the end-of-season promotion Play-offs for a JFL spot is yet another team from Shizuoka prefecture - Fujieda City Hall are clear in third position following their defeat of Maruyasu Industries, while in the other fixture of the round the students of Chukyo University beat the deliverymen of Sagawa Kyubin Chukyo.

Sun 08 Jul: Chukyo University 4-0 Sagawa Kyubin Chukyo
Sun 08 Jul: Fujieda City Hall 3-1 Maruyasu Industries
Sun 08 Jul: Honda Suzuka 1-2 Shizuoka FC
Sun 08 Jul: Kasugai Club 1-2 Yazaki Valente

1. Shizuoka FC 21 (+22)
2. Yazaki Valente 16 (+10)
3. Fujieda City Hall 13 (+2)
4. Honda Suzuka 10 (-7)
5. Chukyo University 9 (-2)
6. Maruyasu Industries 7 (-4)
7. Sagawa Kyubin Chukyo 4 (-8)
8. Kasugai Club 1 (-11)
Tohoku League Division 1
Pre-season favourites Grulla Morioka continue to run away with the Tohoku League Division 1 crown for 2007, Sunday's comfortable 4-0 victory at Nippon Steel Kamaishi being their ninth win of the season. Grulla are therefore nine points ahead of their closest challengers, NEC Tokin, who weren't in action this weekend - but FC Primeiro nevertheless failed to make up any real ground on the top two by picking up only a draw at home to relegation-threatened Sendai Nakata Club. And in the other match, Furukawa Battery continued their recent run of poor results with a 3-1 defeat at home to Morioka Zebra.

09 Jul 07 - Morioka Zebra get the better of yellow-shirted Furukawa Battery

Morioka Zebra get the better of yellow-shirted Furukawa Battery

Sun 08 Jul: FC Primeiro 2-2 Sendai Nakata Club
Sun 08 Jul: Furukawa Battery 1-3 Morioka Zebra
Sun 08 Jul: Nippon Steel Kamaishi 0-4 Grulla Morioka

1. Grulla Morioka 27 (+32)
2. NEC Tokin 18 (+21)
3. FC Primeiro 13 (+4)
4. Wiese Shiogama 10 (+1)
5. Morioka Zebra 10 (-12)
6. Furukawa Battery 10 (-14)
7. Sendai Nakata Club 4 (-11)
8. Nippon Steel Kamaishi 4 (-21)
Tohoku League Division 2 (South)
There can be no doubt whatsoever as to where the action was in Division 2 (South) of the Tohoku League on Sunday. Promotion hopefuls and local rivals FC Perada Fukushima and Viancone Fukushima clashed for the final time this year and after a draw right at the start of the season, it was clear before kick-off that a decisive result for either side would affect the title race in a potentially decisive manner. And visitors Viancone struck the vital blow by picking up a 2-1 win that sees them occupy second place now only on goal difference with a game in hand.

Continuing their excellent year in third are 2006 Fukushima Prefectural League winners Soma SC, 3-0 winners over poor old Kureha, who have yet to pick up a single point. In the other two fixtures of the round, Marysol Matsushima and Sendai neighbours Shichigahama SC both managed comfortable victories, against Nakaniida SC and Kanai Club respectively.

Sun 08 Jul: FC Perada Fukushima 1-2 Viancone Fukushima
Sun 08 Jul: Nakaniida SC 0-4 Marysol Matsushima
Sun 08 Jul: Shichigahama SC 5-1 Kanai Club
Sun 08 Jul: Soma SC 3-0 Kureha

1. FC Perada Fukushima 19 (+39)
2. Viancone Fukushima 19 (+26)
3. Soma SC 16 (+11)
4. Marysol Matsushima 11 (+4)
5. Shichigahama SC 6 (-3)
6. Kanai Club 6 (-36)
7. Nakaniida SC 4 (-13)
8. Kureha 0 (-28)
Tohoku League Division 2 (North)
After one or two disappointing results earlier on in the season, reigning title holders FC Akita Cambiare have reasserted their authority in Division 2 (North) of the Tohoku League in no uncertain terms. On Sunday they thrashed promoted side and Akita neighbours Saruta Industry 7-1, which enabled Cambiare to open up a six point gap over a Tono Club side who could only draw at Fuji Club 2003. Comfortable in third are Mizusawa Club, 3-0 winners over Vanraure Hachinohe, while bottom team Omiya Club won for the first time this year to close in on Hokuto Bank in the relegation battle.

08 Jul 07: Fuji Club 2003 1-1 Tono Club
08 Jul 07: Omiya Club 2-1 Hokuto Bank
08 Jul 07: Saruta Industry 1-7 FC Akita Cambiare
08 Jul 07: Vanraure Hachinohe 0-3 Mizusawa Club

1. FC Akita Cambiare 22 (+26)
2. Tono Club 19 (+6)
3. Mizusawa Club 14 (+6)
4. Fuji Club 2003 9 (+1)
5. Vanraure Hachinohe 9 (-4)
6. Saruta Industry 6 (-7)
7. Hokuto Bank 3 (-13)
8. Omiya Club 5 (-15)
Shikoku League
In somewhat forlorn fashion, Nangoku Kochi closed the gap on front pair Kamatamare Sanuki and Tokushima Vortis Amateur in the only Shikoku League fixture of the weekend, courtesy of a 2-1 victory over Ehime's Ventana AC.

09 Jul 07 - Goalmouth action from Nangoku Kochi’s defeat of Ventana AC

Goalmouth action from Nangoku Kochi’s defeat of Ventana AC

Sun 08 Jul: Nangoku Kochi 2-1 Ventana AC

1. Kamatamare Sanuki 28 (+45)
2. Tokushima Vortis Amateur 28 (+44)
3. Nangoku Kochi 24 (+19)
4. Sanyo Electric Tokushima 15 (-7)
5. Ehime Shimanami 10 (-17)
6. Ventana AC 10 (-23)
7. Tokushima Comprille SC 3 (-26)
8. Sanwa Club 3 (-35)
Kyushu League
All three main contenders for the Kyushu League title were convincing winners in their Sunday matches, New Wave Kitakyushu holding on to a narrow lead thanks to their 3-0 win over mid-table side Okinawa Kariyushi. But if New Wave were previously unaware of the challengers right behind them, they will surely know now - Honda Lock and V Varen Nagasaki both demonstrated the strength of their firepower in 8-1 victories against Nanakuma Tombies and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki respectively. Nippon Steel Oita remain just a little off the pace in fourth after they beat Osumi NIFS United, but the other significant match of the round was in Okinawa, where Kaiho Bank SC did their chances of avoiding relegation the power of good by beating Kumamoto Teachers.

09 Jul 07 - Honda Lock dish out a pasting to Nanakuma Tombies

Honda Lock dish out a pasting to Nanakuma Tombies

Sun 08 Jul: Honda Lock 8-1 Nanakuma Tombies
Sun 08 Jul: Kaiho Bank SC 1-0 Kumamoto Teachers
Sun 08 Jul: New Wave Kitakyushu 3-0 Okinawa Kariyushi
Sun 08 Jul: Nippon Steel Oita 4-1 Osumi NIFS United
Sun 08 Jul: V Varen Nagasaki 8-1 Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki

1. New Wave Kitakyushu 37 (+40)
2. Honda Lock 36 (+45)
3. V Varen Nagasaki 35 (+52)
4. Nippon Steel Oita 31 (+16)
5. Volca Kagoshima 24 (+1)
6. Okinawa Kariyushi 18 (-3)
7. Osumi NIFS United 13 (-13)
8. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki 13 (-24)
9. Kaiho Bank SC 9 (-51)
10. Kumamoto Teachers 6 (-25)
11. Nanakuma Tombies 3 (-54)
Kansai League Division 2
Champions-elect of the Kansai League Division 2 Hannan University notched up double figures for the second consecutive weekend on Saturday, an 11-1 thrashing of Kihoku Football Group following on from their 10-1 triumph over Hermano Osaka in the previous round. This puts the Osaka-based students four points clear with only two matches to go, only Takada FC having any chance of denying them of the automatic promotion place. But Takada could only draw against Hermano, who are fighting hard against the drop - their nearest rivals, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe, also drew 3-3 with Kohga School. Kyoto Shiko Club meanwhile went third on goal difference by beating Riseisha FC.

Sun 07 Jul: Hannan University 11-1 Kihoku Football Group
Sun 07 Jul: Hermano Osaka 3-3 Takada FC
Sun 07 Jul: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe 3-3 Kohga School
Sun 07 Jul: Riseisha FC 1-2 Kyoto Shiko Club

1. Hannan University 30 (+44)
2. Takada FC 26 (+17)
3. Kyoto Shiko Club 17 (+9)
4. Kohga School 17 (+1)
5. Riseisha FC 16 (-4)
6. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Kobe 15 (-7)
7. Hermano Osaka 11 (-15)
8. Kihoku Football Group 0 (-35)
Kansai League Division 1
With two rounds of the season to go, the battle for the Kansai League Division 1 crown seems certain to go down to the final game of the year between frontrunners and champions Banditonce Kobe and second-placed FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu. Banditonce stay two points in front following their 6-1 thrashing of Sanyo Electric Sumoto, while FC Mi-o's potentially vital goal difference was barely improved by beating Kobe FC 1970 2-1. It's now impossible for Ain Food to steal the runners-up spot after they lost at FC Kyoto 1993, while AS Laranja Kyoto claimed a 3-1 win over relegated FC Glaspo Kashiwara in the other fixture.

Sat 07 Jul: AS Laranja Kyoto 3-1 FC Glaspo Kashiwara
Sat 07 Jul: FC Kyoto 1993 2-1 Ain Food
Sat 07 Jul: Kobe FC 1970 1-2 FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu
Sat 07 Jul: Sanyo Electric Sumoto 1-6 Banditonce Kobe

1. Banditonce Kobe 33 (+42)
2. FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu 31 (+39)
3. Ain Food 23 (+1)
4. AS Laranja Kyoto 18 (-12)
5. FC Kyoto 1993 15 (-3)
6. Kobe FC 1970 10 (-13)
7. Sanyo Electric Sumoto 9 (-27)
8. FC Glaspo Kashiwara 2 (-27)
Hokushinetsu League Division 2
The top two teams in Division 2 of the Hokushinetsu League both stumbled in their next-to-last match of the season on Sunday. Granscena Niigata could have made sure of the title and the single automatic promotion spot with a win at lowly Teihens FC - who were on a losing streak of five games - but were held to a goalless draw. And Saurcos Fukui remain in the play-off position after losing their third successive match at improving Maruoka Phoenix.

Going into the last round of matches in two weeks' time, Saurcos are under pressure from Ohara School JaSRA, 2-1 winners over relegated Toyama Shinjo Club. Neither can FC Antelope Shiojiri be completed discounted, although their 3-1 home defeat by CUPS Niigata makes it very difficult for the Nagano side to steal second place.

09 Jul 07 - Sigh. This photo is evidently the best that Granscena Niigata and Teihens can do

Sigh. This is evidently the best that Granscena and Teihens can do

Sun 08 Jul: FC Antelope Shiojiri 1-3 CUPS Niigata
Sun 08 Jul: Maruoka Phoenix 2-0 Saurcos Fukui
Sun 08 Jul: Ohara School JaSRA 2-1 Toyama Shinjo Club
Sun 08 Jul: Teihens FC 0-0 Granscena Niigata

1. Granscena Niigata 28 (+17)
2. Saurcos Fukui 25 (+11)
3. Ohara School JaSRA 23 (+7)
4. FC Antelope Shiojiri 22 (+5)
5. CUPS Niigata 20 (+3)
6. Maruoka Phoenix 15 (+4)
7. Teihens FC 12 (-12)
8. Toyama Shinjo Club 4 (-35)
Hokkaido League
Continuing their dominance of their Regional league are Norbritz Hokkaido, whose 8-1 thrashing of Blackpecker Hakodate completed their eighth win from eight fixtures. The nearest challengers are still Sapporo Winds, 7-1 winners over Hokushukai, the team that came up with them from the Block Leagues but who are having a much tougher time competing at the higher level. Indeed, Hokushukai stay off the bottom only because Sapporo FC's miserable year goes on, their latest defeat coming at the hands of Toyota Motors Hokkaido. Tokachifairsky Genesis are also struggling and their 3-0 loss to Barefoot Hokkaido keeps them involved in the relegation dogfight.

09 Jul 07 - Tokachifairsky line up after their defeat by Barefoot

Tokachifairsky line up after their defeat by Barefoot

Sun 08 Jul: Blackpecker Hakodate 1-8 Norbritz Hokkaido
Sun 08 Jul: Sapporo FC 1-3 Toyota Motors Hokkaido
Sun 08 Jul: Sapporo Winds 7-1 Hokushukai
Sun 08 Jul: Tokachifairsky Genesis 0-3 Barefoot Hokkaido

1. Norbritz Hokkaido 24 (+33)
2. Sapporo Winds 19 (+15)
3. Toyota Motors Hokkaido 13 (-2)
4. Barefoot Hokkaido 12 (-6)
5. Blackpecker Hakodate 8 (-2)
6. Tokachifairsky Genesis 7 (-9)
7. Hokushukai 5 (-18)
8. Sapporo FC 4 (-13)
Chugoku League
Confirmed Chugoku League champions Fagiano Okayama are on their way to winning every match of their regular league season. The Pheasants, who have recently put in their application for associate membership of the J-League itself, have only one fixture remaining after their 6-0 drubbing of Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku on Sunday, while rivals FC Central Chugoku were involved in qualifying for the later stages of the Emperor's Cup tournament. A club record 9252 watched the Fagiano match at Momotaro Stadium.

At the other end of the standings, Hitachi Manufacturing Kasado will definitely finish bottom ahead of the local play-off tournament following their 3-2 defeat at Hiroshima Fujita SC, although the expansion of the league to ten teams next season means that there is no relegation. Fellow Hiroshima prefecture sides JFE Steel Western Japan and Mazda SC shared the points in a 1-1 draw in the other match of the round.

09 Jul 07 - The Fagiano - Sagawa night match

The Fagiano - Sagawa night match

Sun 08 Jul: Fagiano Okayama 6-0 Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku
Sun 08 Jul: Hiroshima Fujita SC 3-2 Hitachi Manufacturing Kasado
Sun 08 Jul: JFE Steel Western Japan 1-1 Mazda SC

1. Fagiano Okayama 39 (+72)
2. FC Central Chugoku 24 (+15)
3. Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku 18 (+1)
4. Renofa Yamaguchi 18 (-8)
5. Hiroshima Fujita SC 14 (-8)
6. Mazda SC 12 (-14)
7. JFE Steel Western Japan 11 (-22)
8. Hitachi Manufacturing Kasado 6 (-44)
JFL Sunday Scores
A goal in the dying seconds from defender Takashi Kageyama - his second of the match - gave Sagawa Kyubin SC the 3-2 win over FC Kariya that took them past rivals Rosso Kumamoto and back to the top of the JFL in the Sunday evening fixture. Lowly Kariya thought they were on the way to a shock point when Masahito Sasagawa levelled the match with three minutes remaining, but the defeat for them combined with a good 2-1 win for Sagawa Printing at out-of-form TDK SC means that the Aichi side slip down to third from bottom in the standings.

Two goals inside a minute in the early stages of the first half set Ryutsu Keizai University up for a fine 4-1 victory at Mitsubishi Mizushima. The match of the day, however, pitched YKK AP with JEF Reserves, who looked as if they were going to win the game until YKK's former Ehime FC forward Hironori Saruta tied things up in 87th minute. This keeps the company side from Toyama in fourth place, but their recent good form now has them just two points behind FC Gifu, while Sagawa and Rosso now seem to be involved in a two-way fight for the championship.

09 Jul 07 - A rare moment of joy on Sunday for Mitsubishi Mizushima

A rare moment of joy on Sunday for Mitsubishi Mizushima

Sun 08 Jul: Mitsubishi Mizushima 1-4 Ryutsu Keizai University
Sun 08 Jul: Sagawa Kyubin SC 3-2 FC Kariya
Sun 08 Jul: TDK SC 1-2 Sagawa Printing
Sun 08 Jul: YKK AP 2-2 JEF Reserves

1. Sagawa Kyubin SC 45 (+25)
2. Rosso Kumamoto 43 (+22)
3. FC Gifu 37 (+11)
4. YKK AP 35 (+11)
5. JEF Reserves 32 (+7)
6. Yokogawa Musashino 31 (+9)
7. Alo's Hokuriku 31 (+1)
8. Honda FC 27 (+5)
9. Tochigi SC 26 (+6)
10. Mitsubishi Mizushima 25 (-5)
11. Ryutsu Keizai University 24 (-2)
12. Gainare Tottori 21 (-5)
13. Sony Sendai 21 (-13)
14. TDK SC 20 (-7)
15. Sagawa Printing 20 (-11)
16. FC Kariya 17 (-9)
17. FC Ryukyu 16 (-21)
18. Arte Takasaki 5 (-24)

09 Jul 07 - YKK AP goalscorer Hironori Saruta

YKK AP goalscorer Hironori Saruta
Hokushinetsu League Division 1
Sunday's penultimate round of the Hokushinetsu League Division 1 introduced further twists into this most exciting of Japan's nine Regional League competitions. Former leaders Japan Soccer College were subjected to their second successive defeat as they went down 2-1 at home to an AC Nagano Parceiro side who had previously appeared to have slipped out of the running. Parceiro remain in contention, but the favourites to win the title now are arguably local rivals Matsumoto Yamaga Club, whose 2-1 defeat of Zweigen Kanazawa puts them two points clear at the top. The waters are muddied yet further by the fact that JSC host Yamaga in two weeks' time, while Zweigen travel to AC Nagano.

Lower down the table, Fervorosa had to come from a goal down at half time to beat Ueda Gentian 4-1, a result that confirms Ueda's relegation to Division 2. But the identity of the team who will face a play-off to remain in the top flight is unclear after the two contenders - Valiente Toyama and Niigata University of Management - drew 1-1, to leave Valiente safe in sixth place and with the relatively easy task of a final game against Ueda. The students, on the other hand, must beat Fervorosa knowing that even that may not be enough to help them avoid the play-off.

09 Jul 07 - Hidehito Shirao in action for Yamaga against Zweigen

Hidehito Shirao in action for Yamaga against Zweigen

Sun 08 Jul: Fervorosa 4-1 Ueda Gentian
Sun 08 Jul: Japan Soccer College 1-2 AC Nagano Parceiro
Sun 08 Jul: Matsumoto Yamaga Club 2-1 Zweigen Kanazawa
Sun 08 Jul: Valiente Toyama 1-1 Niigata University of Management

1. Matsumoto Yamaga Club 30 (+32)
2. Japan Soccer College 28 (+25)
3. AC Nagano Parceiro 28 (+14)
4. Zweigen Kanazawa 27 (+22)
5. Fervorosa 24 (+16)
6. Valiente Toyama 7 (-19)
7. Niigata University of Management 6 (-46)
8. Ueda Gentian 2 (-43)
JFL Friday & Saturday Scores
Round 19 of the current JFL season is stretched over three days, with FC Gifu and Alo's Hokuriku having shared a Friday evening goalless draw that keeps Gifu in third place. But Rosso Kumamoto go back in front as a result of their 3-2 home win over Gainare Tottori, in which the Kyushu side had to come from behind after Kazuya Tamura's eleventh-minute opener for the visitors. YKK AP and JEF Reserves are scheduled to play a fascinating-looking game on Sunday, but at the moment they are separated in the standings by Yokogawa Musashino, 1-0 winners over poor Arte Takasaki. And Takasaki's neighbours Tochigi SC are also experiencing a desperately disappointing season, as they find themselves down in ninth after their draw against Sony Sendai. Remaining second bottom are FC Ryukyu, who conceded four times in the last quarter of an hour at Honda FC.

09 Jul 07 - Gifu battle it out with Alo’s in the Friday night game

Gifu battle it out with Alo’s in the Friday night game

Fri 06 Jul: FC Gifu 0-0 Alo's Hokuriku

Sat 07 Jul: Honda FC 4-0 FC Ryukyu
Sat 07 Jul: Rosso Kumamoto 3-2 Gainare Tottori
Sat 07 Jul: Tochigi SC 0-0 Sony Sendai
Sat 07 Jul: Yokogawa Musashino 1-0 Arte Takasaki

1. Rosso Kumamoto 43 (+22)
2. Sagawa Kyubin SC 42 (+24)
3. FC Gifu 37 (+11)
4. YKK AP 34 (+11)
5. Yokogawa Musashino 31 (+9)
6. JEF Reserves 31 (+7)
7. Alo's Hokuriku 31 (+1)
8. Honda FC 27 (+5)
9. Tochigi SC 26 (+6)
10. Mitsubishi Mizushima 25 (-2)
11. Gainare Tottori 21 (-5)
12. Ryutsu Keizai University 21 (-5)
13. Sony Sendai 21 (-13)
14. TDK SC 20 (-6)
15. FC Kariya 17 (-8)
16. Sagawa Printing 17 (-12)
17. FC Ryukyu 16 (-21)
18. Arte Takasaki 5 (-24)

09 Jul 07 - On target for Honda FC, it’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura

On target for Honda FC, it’s Kazuhiro Yoshimura
JFL News In Brief
... JFL highflyers JEF Reserves have announced the permanent signing of goalkeeper Daisuke Nakamaki from JEF United... but defender Ryosuke Adachi has left the club...
Regional League News In Brief
... giant Brazilian defender Tatico, formerly with FC Ryukyu but more recently back playing in his native country, has signed for Kyushu League title hopefuls New Wave Kitakyushu, as they look to strengthen their squad for the latter part of the season... rivals V Varen Nagasaki have also been busy in the transfer market, bringing in 20-year-old defender Akira Kajiwara from Oita Trinita on loan until the end of the year...
Regional League News In Brief
Chugoku League side Fagiano Okayama have put in an application for associate membership of the J-League. The league's board will on 21st August consider the documentation provided by Fagiano's president - and if the application is successful, it will mean that the Pheasants will be the first-ever Regional League team to achieve associate member status. JFL sides Rosso Kumamoto, Tochigi SC, FC Gifu and Gainare Tottori are the four teams that currently hold associate membership, with Rosso and Gifu in particular in competition for a top four finish that will almost certainly lead to a J2 spot.
JFL News In Brief
... 20-year-old Mitsubishi Mizushima defender Junichi Yamamoto has left the club and joined Kanto League side Furukawa Electrics Chiba... JFL leaders Sagawa Kyubin SC drew 3-3 with Ritsumeikan University in a friendly on Monday... and Rosso Kumamoto played three games against the locals of Ohzu High School on Tuesday, winning the first two 3-0 and 7-1 but losing the last 2-0...
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