Japanese Non-league Football News

Looking Ahead To The Play-offs
With the 2005 Regional League seasons now virtually wrapped up, the attention of all fans of the non-league game in Japan is now very definitely on the Regional League Championship Winners Play-off, to decide which teams will be promoted to the JFL for next year. Although this is the 28th year in which an equivalent competition has been staged, some commentators are going so far as to say 2005 is in effect the inaugural tournament.

This is because the relationship of some clubs further down the pyramid structure with the J-League itself has been developed by the idea of preparing for J-League entry over the next few years, with one consequence being that the JFL is now viewed by a number of ambitious teams simply as one step on the road to the ultimate dream of league membership and professional football. Last year, for example, only two of the participants were organised as independent companies with the specified aim of gaining admission to the J-League. In 2005, however, no fewer than nine of the thirteen clubs taking part have either confirmed outright that they are seeking to join the J-League, or have gone some way down the road to creating an organisational structure that will later enable them to submit a suitable application.

01 Nov 05 - Luminozo Sayama

Kanto League champions and outsiders for a JFL place, Luminozo Sayama

The format of the tournament, which is to be held in Kyushu and Shikoku, divides in a rather ungainly fashion the thirteen entrants into four groups, who each play a round robin. The winners of each group then reconvene a week later and play another round robin, the top two of which will automatically gain entry to the JFL. However, it's worth bearing in mind that at this level of the game, decisions can be made and unmade very quickly and a year ago Honda Lock finished in third place behind Mitsubishi Mizushima and Ryutsu Keizai University - and yet ended up being promoted anyway, when Kokushikan University withdrew from the JFL and thus created an unexpected vacancy.

Japanese Non-league Football News will naturally be keeping a very close eye on the play-offs at the end of the month, but for the time being, here is a fixture list of matches in the four groups:

25/11/2005 FC Ryukyu - Luminozo Sayama (Group A)
25/11/2005 Rosso Kumamoto - Fagiano Okayama (Group B)
25/11/2005 Nagano Elsa - JEF United Amateurs (Group C)
25/11/2005 Norbritz Hokkaido - TDK Akita (Group C)
25/11/2005 Shizuoka FC - Nangoku Kochi (Group D)

26/11/2005 FC Ryukyu - Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku (Group A)
26/11/2005 Rosso Kumamoto - Grulla Morioka (Group B)
26/11/2005 Nagano Elsa - Norbritz Hokkaido (Group C)
26/11/2005 JEF United Amateurs - TDK Akita (Group C)
26/11/2005 Shizuoka FC - Banditonce Kobe (Group D)

01 Nov 05 - Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku

The happy smiling faces of Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku

27/11/2005 Luminozo Sayama - Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku (Group A)
27/11/2005 Fagiano Okayama - Grulla Morioka (Group B)
27/11/2005 Nagano Elsa - TDK Akita (Group C)
27/11/2005 JEF United Amateurs - Norbritz Hokkaido (Group C)
27/11/2005 Nangoku Kochi - Banditonce Kobe (Group D)

The second stage a week later will consist of the following matches:

02/12/2005 Group A winner - Group B winner
02/12/2005 Group C winner - Group D winner

03/12/2005 Group A winner - Group C winner
03/12/2005 Group B winner - Group D winner

04/12/2005 Group A winner - Group D winner
04/12/2005 Group B winner - Group C winner

01 Nov 05 - Banditonce Kobe

Aiming for the J-League, Banditonce Kobe. On guard!

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