Japanese Non-league Football News

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Western Japan Football Tournament
The regular curtain-raiser to the Japanese non-league season, the Western Japan Football Tournament, was brought to an abrupt end in Okayama prefecture on Sunday, as a sudden snowstorm caused the cancellation of all of the final day's matches. This meant that none of the four play-offs were resolved and the eight participants will all be forced to share their final position in the tournament ranking with one other club.

Just to jump back and explain the background to the competition, though, the Western Japan Football Tournament is a pre-season competition involving the top two teams from the previous season's Kansai, Shikoku, Chugoku and Kyushu Leagues. As it turned out in 2008, no fewer than three newcomers to the JFL took part, in Fagiano Okayama, New Wave Kitakyushu and Mio Biwako Kusatsu - and in Group 1, it was Fagiano who got off to a good start with a 2-1 win in Friday's Semi-Final over 2008 Kyushu League runners-up Honda Lock.

Mio Biwako, on the other hand, were surprisingly eliminated on the same day by an increasingly competitive-looking Tokushima Vortis Amateur, while in Group 2 Banditonce Kobe squeezed past Kamatamare Sanuki on penalties and New Wave crushed FC Central Chugoku. On Saturday, Fagiano overcame Vortis to win Group 1 and New Wave triumphed over Banditonce to do the same in Group 2, but all Sunday's matches to bring the overall tournament to a conclusion were victims of the weather. Full details of the competition are below.

Group 1 Semi-Finals

Fri 22 Feb: Fagiano Okayama 2-1 Honda Lock
Fri 22 Feb: Tokushima Vortis Amateur 3-2 Mio Biwako Kusatsu

Group 1 3rd / 4th Place Play-off

Sat 23 Feb: Honda Lock 1-3 Mio Biwako Kusatsu

Group 1 Final

Sat 23 Feb: Fagiano Okayama 1-0 Tokushima Vortis Amateur

Group 2 Semi-Finals

Fri 22 Feb: Banditonce Kobe 1-1 Kamatamare Sanuki (PK 4-3)
Fri 22 Feb: New Wave Kitakyushu 6-0 FC Central Chugoku

Group 2 3rd / 4th Place Play-off

Sat 23 Feb: FC Central Chugoku 0-3 Kamatamare Sanuki

Group 2 Final

Sat 23 Feb: Banditonce Kobe 1-2 New Wave Kitakyushu

Tournament 7th / 8th Play-off

Sun 24 Feb: Honda Lock c-c FC Central Chugoku

Tournament 5th / 6th Play-off

Sun 24 Feb: Mio Biwako Kusatsu c-c Kamatamare Sanuki

Tournament 3rd / 4th Play-off

Sun 24 Feb: Tokushima Vortis Amateur c-c Banditonce Kobe

Tournament 1st / 2nd Play-off

Sun 24 Feb: Fagiano Okayama c-c New Wave Kitakyushu

Final Standings

1. = Fagiano Okayama
1. = New Wave Kitakyushu
3. = Banditonce Kobe
3. = Tokushima Vortis Amateur
5. = Kamatamare Sanuki
5. = Mio Biwako Kusatsu
7. = FC Central Chugoku
7. = Honda Lock
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