The Mainichi Shimbun reports that the Yokohama F-Marinos defender Takashi Amano faces eight months on the sidelines in his fight to recover from the anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained during pre-season training in October.
The newspaper also confirms that Italian giants AC Milan have opened their second soccer school in Japan. The soccer school is located in the small city of Yufu, Oita Prefecture, which joins the school in Komaki, Aichi Prefecture in the Rossoneri’s growing overseas operations.
The Mainichi Shimbun adds that the date of the All Japan Women’s Football Championship, the L.League equivalent of the Emperor’s Cup, is being changed from the traditional New Year’s Day fixture to 24 December. The change has been made in the hope of attracting more spectators to the women’s final, with what is regarded as the final match of the football season previously being only a prelude to the Emperor’s Cup.
Bad news for Shinji Okazaki and VfB Stuttgart, notes the Asahi Shimbun. Okazaki damaged ligaments in his right knee during training on 14 March, and will miss the next two to three weeks including the 16 March fixture against TSG Hoffenheim.
The Nikkei Shimbun leads with a story confirming that the Nadeshiko remain at third place in the FIFA Women’s World Ranking. There have been no changes to the first seven places, but only 52 points separate the top three of United States, Germany and Japan.
And finally, the Sankei Shumbun turns its attention to the Osaka derby. As outlined in the Matchday 2 preview here, Gamba’s hold over Cerezo Osaka is almost total. However coach Jose Carlos Serrao has apologised to supporters following a poor start to the season in which Gamba began with a 3-0 home defeat to South Korea’s Pohang Steelers in the AFC Champions League, with Vissel Kobe taking three points at the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium on the opening day of the J.League Division 1 season. In an interview at a closed training session held on 16 March, Serrao stated that “if we win [at Cerezo] tomorrow, it will be a turning point”.
Cerezo Osaka’s coach Sérgio Soares, meanwhile, has included Under-23 Samurai Blue players Hiroshi Kiyotake, Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takahiro Ogihara in his squad for the match, despite their exertions in the 2-0 victory over Bahrain which secured a berth at London 2012.