J.League releases fixtures for 2012 season

The J.League has released the opening fixtures for the 2012 season. The Japanese Super Cup, the traditional curtain raiser for the professional football season and contested by the current champions of J.League Division One and the holders of the Emperor’s Cup has been pencilled in for 3 March. A new name will be inscribed in the history books as neither Kashiwa Reysol nor FC Tokyo have previously been successful in the one-off fixture.

The Sun Kings, having become the first team in J.League history to capture the Division One title while being reigning Division Two championship holders, will begin what they hope will be a strong defence at home in an intriguing fixture against Yokohama F-Marinos. While the Marinos finished in fifth position in 2011, the appointment of Yasuhiro Higuchi as manager following the sacking of Kazushi Kimura in December has puzzled. Higuchi fared poorly during his managerial reign at Yokohama FC and had a mediocre record in spells at both Omiya Ardija and Montedio Yamagata.

In what is sure to be an emotional fixture, Vegalta Sendai will meet Kashima Antlers at the Yurtec Stadium almost exactly a year to the day the Great East Japan Earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region. Both the Yurtec Stadium and the Kashima Soccer Stadium were badly damaged as a result of the earthquake, which with the subsequent tsunami ravaged the northeast coast of Honshu causing thousands of fatalities and leaving tens of thousands homeless.

The promoted Consadole Sapporo will open their campaign at the Sapporo Dome pitched against Júbilo Iwata. Consa will be aiming to avoid a repeat of their one previous appearance in the top division in 2008, when they mustered only four victories, suffered twenty four defeats, and conceded seventy goals in limping to a paltry eighteen points.

J.League Division One, 10 March

Consadole Sapporo vs Júbilo Iwata
Vegalta Sendai vs Kashima Antlers
Omiya Ardija vs FC Tokyo
Kawasaki Frontale vs Albirex Niigata
Nagoya Grampus vs Shimizu S-Pulse
Gamba Osaka vs Vissel Kobe
Sanfrecce Hiroshima vs Urawa Red Diamonds
Sagan Tosu vs Cerezo Osaka

J.League Division One, 11 March

Kashiwa Reysol vs Yokohama F-Marinos

(This fixture has been moved to 11 March by the J.League. On 7 March Buriram PEA FC will entertain Kashiwa Reysol in Thailand, in what is the first of their 2012 AFC Champions League Group H qualification games. Both Gamba Osaka and Nagoya Grampus play their opening 2012 Champions League fixtures at home on 7 March, while FC Tokyo meet Brisbane Roar in Australia a day earlier)

J.League Division Two, 4 March

Mito HollyHock vs Yokohama FC
JEF United Ichihara Chiba vs Montedio Yamagata
Shonan Bellmare vs Kyoto Sanga FC
FC Gifu vs Gainare Tottori
Tokyo Verdy vs Matsumoto Yamaga
Ventforet Kofu vs Tochigi SC
Fagiano Okayama vs Kataller Toyama
Ehime FC vs Machida Zelvia
Avispa Fukuoka vs Roasso Kumamoto
Giravanz Kitakyushu vs Tokushima Vortis
Oita Trinita vs Thespa Kusatsu

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