Japanese Non-league Football News

JFL Team Profile - FC Kariya

FC Kariya are effectively a re-launch of the old Denso club, originally formed under the auspices of the Nippon Denso company as long ago as 1949. They made their way into the Tokai League in 1989 and after only two or three seasons had become one of the better sides in the division, alongside other corporates like Seino Transportation and JATCO.

Nippon Denso first won the Tokai League title in 1993 on goal difference from JATCO and then battled their way through to the very last stages of the Regional League Championship Winners' Play-off tournament, only to lose 2-0 to NEC Yamagata and thereby miss out on promotion to Division 2 of the JSL. Two years later, however, the club emerged undefeated from a nineteen-game Tokai League campaign and made no mistake in the Play-offs, seeing off Yokogawa Electric and YKK to move up together with Oita FC.

Life in the JFL nevertheless proved tough and the re-named Denso team narrowly avoided picking up the wooden spoon in 1996, the conceding of an average three goals a game indicating that the problem lay in defence. Modest improvements were made before league re-organisation at the end of 1998 and with the majority of JFL clubs going on to populate J2 in 1999, the club suddenly found itself one of the better teams outside of the ranks of the professionals.

But by not much later than the turn of the century, Denso were already in decline and in recent years have been scrapping it out at the wrong end of the JFL table - a point underlined in late 2004, when champions-elect Otsuka Pharmaceuticals handed them an 11-0 crushing. In those dark times, Nippon Denso seemed apathetic in its attitude and the under-funded club were heading nowhere but down.

Until that is, the summer of 2005, when rumours began to surface of discussions between the parent company and the local council in Kariya. It became clear over the coming months that Nippon Denso were willing to relinquish control of the football club to an NPO that would run it as a community-based outfit, representing Kariya City's 140,000 citizens.

By the end of the year, all of the necessary arrangements and transfers of responsibility had taken place and 2006 therefore saw the new FC Kariya club in a position to make a fresh start. Whereas previously the Denso company had amply demonstrated that they had no interest in their team pursuing J-League membership, the establishment of the reconstituted club conceivably meant that they might take steps towards becoming a second J-League club in the Nagoya area.

Prior to the 2006 season, the messages coming from FC Kariya concentrated more on the setting down of roots in the local community and thereby seeking to establish a solid fanbase - something notably lacking from the Denso era - than on battling it out for promotion from the JFL. The NPO appointed former Nagoya Grampus 8 midfielder Nariyasu Yasuhara as coach and it was unfortunate to say the very least that Yasuhara’s new charges kicked things off so disastrously, taking a 6-0 hammering from Sagawa Kyubin Tokyo in the first home fixture in front of an impressive gate of 1080.

Kariya subsequently weathered the storm and always had just about enough points in the bag to keep them away from Mitsubishi Mizushima and Honda Lock at the bottom of the table. As a result, Yasuhara kept his job and has even gone on to state that he will be aiming for a top three finish in 2007. This looks very unlikely, but the progress of FC Kariya will be something on which JFL fans will keep a particular eye over the coming seasons.

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