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The Asahi Shimbun leads with the story that one of the leading players in Japanese women’s football, Mizuho Sakaguchi, will be transferring from Albirex Niigata Ladies to their L.League rivals NTV Beleza. The 24 year-old midfielder, who was an indispensable part of the national team which lifted the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will aim to continue the dominance of Beleza, who have claimed the title a record eleven times, with seven championships coming in the last eleven seasons.
The newspaper also confirms that the three trophies collected at the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala will be on display in the Japan Football Association Museum. The FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year and the FIFA Fair Play Award trophies will be available for public viewing until 29 May.
As reported yesterday, Keisuke Honda’s mooted transfer to SS Lazio is still to be resolved, according to The Daily Yomiuri. The report, using the Russian sports daily Sport Express as a source, confirms that the negotiations are ongoing but an agreement is yet to be reached.
And finally, news on Japan’s overseas players is the order of the day for The Daily Mainichi, starting with Samurai Blue Shinji Okazaki’s VfB Stuttgart side falling to a 3-1 defeat away to Atsuto Uchida’s FC Schalke 04. The Schalke right-back played for the full 90 minutes, while Okazaji made an appearance as a 73rd minute substitute, netting a consolation goal for Stuttgart in the 87th minute and bringing his total to four for the season. Gotoku Sakai was an unused substitute for Stuttgart.
Elsewhere, the midfielder Makoto Hasebe was left on the bench as his VfL Wolsburg side scored a late winner to take all three points against FC Cologne in a 1-0 victory, while Hajime Hosogai was named in the FC Augsburg team which fell to a 1-0 defeat away to SC Freiburg following an 88th minute winner scored by Matthias Ginter.
The Asahi Shimbun runs a small feature on the newly promoted J.League Division Two side Matsumoto Yamaga, focusing on the training camp being run under the auspices of the new manager Yasuharu Sorimachi. Sorimachi was hired for the position owing to his predecessor Yoshiyuki Kato not having the requisite coaching credentials for a professional team. Sorimachi led the session, which was opened up to supporters of the Ptarmigans, with his squad of 30 focusing on light exercise and technical drills. The Nagoya Prefecture side begin their league campaign away to Shonan Bellmare on 4 March, following by their first professional home fixture at the Matsumotodaira Football Stadium against Montedio Yamagata a week later.
The power of Japanese women through the ages, including the evolution of language through the invention of kana, to the present time and the boom of women’s football owing to the exploits of the modern day heroine Homare Sawa occupies the thoughts of Ryuzo Morioka in The Daily Mainichi. Morioka, the former Japanese international defender capped thirty-eight times by the Samurai Blue, and now a coach at Kyoto Sanga, talks about “Pink Power”, and that young boys should surely be impressed and inspired by the achievements of the Nadeshiko, self-mockingly suggesting that he is perfectly aware of female strength owing to the number within the Morioka household.
And finally, Nippon Sports takes on the increasingly protracted and convoluted negotiations which could see Keisuke Honda leave PFC CSKA Moscow for Italian giants SS Lazio. The 25 year-old attacking midfielder has been linked with a host of clubs across Europe in recent years, and the Corriere Dello Sport reported that there is some distance between the fee Lazio are willing to pay, with an EUR 2 million loan fee followed by a full transfer fee of EUR 10m being proffered six months later, compared to an EUR 16m fee being demanded by the Russian club. A further complication is that Lazio has a full complement of foreign players, and will need to loan or sell one of its current overseas contingent to allow Honda to play. With the transfer window closing in Italy at midnight on 2 February, and a significant gap in the valuations of the two clubs, there is little optimism that a deal will be concluded this winter.
(Keisuke Honda opens the scoring with a free-kick for Japan against Denmark in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Group E game. Japan would go on to win the match 3-1 with goals from Yasuhito Endo and Shinji Okazaki)
Giravanz Kitakyushu has announced its squad for its 2012 J.League Division Two campaign:
The team from Miyagi Prefecture have added two new names to the coaching staff for the 2012 season under manager Makoto Teguramori. Harasaki Masato, who retired as a player after spending the 2004 season at the Yurtec Stadium, has subsequently pursued a career in coaching, with a six year stint at Omiya Ardija and is now on the senior roster at Vegalta.
Another former player has been promoted to a senior role. Shin Nakamura, who was an integral part of the 2001 J.League Division Two side which finished runners-up and were promoted to the top-flight, has performed several roles in the youth ranks, most recently as head coach.
As part of the events planned leading up to the celebration of Kitakyushu City’s 50th anniversary in February 2013, Consadole Sapporo will face Giravanz Kitakyushu in a pre-season friendly. The J.League Division One side will face Giravanz at the Honjo Athletic Stadium on 19 February. Giravanz, who have only played in the professional ranks for two seasons, set a J.League Division Two record for the fewest wins and lowest total points upon their arrival in the league in 2010, but in being just ten points away from the promotion places in 2011 finished a very creditable eighth.
Shimizu S-Pulse have announced that they will be participating in the 2012 Nikon Asian Challenge Cup in Hong Kong as part of their pre-season preparations. S-Pa will join Hong Kong’s South China AA, the South Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma and Guangzhou Evergrande FC from China in the straight knockout tournament commencing 23 January, with all fixtures to be played at the Hong Kong Stadium. The Shizuokan team will face South China AA before then contesting the final or the third-place match on 26 January.
A squad comprising 21 players has been announced for the trip, with Shimizu expected to leave Japan for the island on 20 January.
(The 2011 Emperor’s Cup quarter-final between Cerezo Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse. The match ended 2-2 in normal time, with Cerezo victorious following a 6-5 penalty shoot-out, goalkeeper Kaito Yamamoto missing the decisive penalty for S-Pa)
The Asahi Shimbun reports that former Thespa Kusatsu midfielder Kohei Yamada was a third-round pick for the Colorado Rapids in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft, having been invited to the Major League Soccer Combine in January. The 23 year-old made his professional debut for Thespa in 2010 and totalled thirty-four appearances in two years, making twenty-six starts and creating one assist. Click here for coverage of Yamada at the 2012 MLS Combine.
Gamba Osaka’s first Brazilian manager is keen to play enjoyable, attacking football in a bid to win the J.League Division One title, notes The Daily Mainichi. José Carlos Serrão, the 61 year-old from São Paulo who was appointed to the role following the decision of long-term incumbent Akiro Nishino to step down at the end of the 2011 season, has seen thirteen new faces recruited to the senior squad including three players promoted from the youth ranks and Samurai Blue Yasuyuki Konno. Gamba will be aiming for their first championship since 2005 and bettering the three consecutive top three finishes in the past three years.
NHK reports on Tomoaki Makino’s return to Urawa Red Diamonds on loan after a disappointing year with Bundesliga club FC Köln. Makino, the gifted young centre-back who has made eight appearances for the national team, will relish the opportunity of teaming up with manager Mihailo Petrović, under whose tutelage he blossomed at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
And finally, Junya Tanaka will be hoping to catch the eye of national team head coach Alberto Zaccheroni, says Nippon Sports. The 24 year-old attacking midfielder scored 13 goals in 29 league games on the way to Kashiwa Reysol’s first ever J.League Division One victory, but was not picked by the Italian for any of his squads. Tanaka will have the opportunity to impress in the Japanese Super Cup at which Zaccheroni will be attending, but for Tanaka, he says that his focus is only on a victory for the Sun Kings on 3 March.
The club from Kanagawa Prefecture, who are seeking to improve on a very disappointing eleventh place in J.League Division One in 2011, have completed a deal for Rene Santos, formally known as Rene Ferreira dos Santos, to join on loan for the forthcoming season. The 19 year-old Bahian midfielder will arrive from Brazilian giants Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense on a one year contract.
(Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Kengo Nakamura scores a stunning free-kick with the last kick of the match to give his team a 2-1 victory over Gamba Osaka in J.League Division One, 29 May 2011)
Albi have completed a loan deal which will see the Paulista Futebol Clube midfielder Alan Cassio De Cruz, more commonly known as Alan Mineiro, in Niigata for the 2012 season. The 24 year-old playmaker will leave the São Paulo club immediately and is expected to appear at a press conference scheduled for 23 January.