Japanese Non-league Football News

All-Japan Shakaijin - 1st Round Draw
The draw has been announced for the first round of the 2006 All-Japan Shakaijin Tournament, to be staged in Akita prefecture during mid-October. This is the major cup competition for clubs lower than the JFL in the Japanese pyramid system and indeed dates back to the mid-60s, when it was used as a means of achieving qualification into the fledgling Japan Soccer League. Now, of course, equivalent progression occurs via a separate Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off competition, but with most of the competitors for the latter already known, there is a sense that Shakaijin, as well as being a prestigious enough tournament in its own right, provides something of a dress rehearsal for the real deal at the end of November.

And with that in mind, there are some big-name clashes in the first round to look out for. FC Gifu, for example, are one of the more ambitious and better-organised clubs to have reached the Regional play-offs, but as a new team have rarely had the opportunity to pit their wits against sides from outside their Tokai region. Their match with Kyushu's strong Nippon Steel Oita will give them an early taste of something approaching the required standard, while another Kyushu outfit, New Wave Kitakyushu, must overcome Hokushinetsu League champions Japan Soccer College if they are to make any further progress. FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu from Kansai are another team who have already qualified for the Regional play-off and it is highly likely that their first round Shakaijin opponents, Fagiano Okayama from Chugoku, will be joining them.

The minnows of the competition in this context are undoubtedly those clubs that compete below Regional level, of whom there are two. FC Nishiomiya A, from Kansai, take on Kanto League Division 2 strugglers All-Kamisu SC - but must face the winners between Nippon Steel Oita and FC Gifu if they're able to get through to the next round. Kanto's Tonan SC Gunma, meanwhile, have a hard match against Shizuoka FC ahead of them and are scheduled to take on either Ain Food or Shikoku League champion-elect Kamatamare Sanuki if they do manage to cause an upset.

The full list of first round ties is as follows:

Nippon Steel Oita - FC Gifu
FC Nishiomiya A - All-Kamisu SC
Nirasaki Astros - Nangoku Kochi
AS Laranja Kyoto - Nagoya Club
NEC Tokin - Sagawa Kyubin Chugoku
FC Machida Zelvia - Kobe FC 1970
Norbritz Hokkaido - Fervorosa
Hanno Bruder - V Varen Nagasaki
TDK Akita - Sanyo Electric Sumoto
Okinawa Kariyushi - Toho Titanium
Fuyo Club - FC Primeiro
Japan Soccer College - New Wave Kitakyushu
Shizuoka FC - Tonan SC Gunma
Ain Food - Kamatamare Sanuki
Toyota Motors Hokkaido - YSCC
Fagiano Okayama - FC Mi-o Biwako Kusatsu

All games to be played in Akita on Sat 14 Oct.

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