(Masanobu Matsunami, promoted to the managerial position at Gamba Osaka following the sacking of Jose Carlos Serrao, and who becomes the youngest current J.League Division boss at 37 years of age, reflects on his achievement as the youngest player in J.League history to score a hat-trick. Matsunami was one day shy of his 19th birthday when he netted three times on 20 November 1993)
The Japan universities’ selection scored a goal in extra-time to seal a comeback victory against the South Korean universities’ side, emerging with a 2-1 win in the 9th Annual Denso Cup competition, the Asahi Shimbun reports. Played on 25 March at the National Stadium in Tokyo, Seung-Woo Nam gave the visitors the lead in the second-half, before half-time substitutes Nobuyuki Shiina and Jin Izumisawa responded for the home team, with Izumisawa’s goal coming in the final period of extra-time. It was the All Japan University Selections’ first triumph over South Korea in four years, their record now four wins, three losses and two draws.
Daisuke Suzuki, the 22 year-old Albirex Niigata centre-back and Under-23 Samurai Blue, will be out of action for a short period after damaging his right medical collateral ligament during Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Nagoya Grampus, the Mainichi Shimbun confirms. Suzuki, who was an ever-present during Japan’s successful AFC Group C qualification for the London 2012 games, is expected to return in two to three weeks.
The Mainichi Shimbun adds that Kenyu Sugimoto will be leaving Cerezo Osaka on loan to J.League Division 2 outfit Tokyo Verdy. Sugimoto has been named as a substitute just once in the 2012 season, and will leave for the Ajinomoto Stadium immediately with the loan set to expire on 17 July. The 19 year-old forward, who made his sole appearance for the Japan U-23 side in February’s 4-0 London 2012 qualification victory over Malaysia as an 83rd minute substitute, joins a side currently sitting fourth in the table and with its sights set on promotion to Division 1.
And finally, The Sankei Shimbun has more on the upheaval at Gamba Osaka following Jose Carlos Serrao’s sacking. Masanobu Matsunami, who at 37 becomes J.League Division 1’s youngest current manager, admitted that his promotion is a big challenge to take on, but that he wants to revive the aggressive, attacking approach Gamba is known for and that neither qualification for the latter stages of the AFC Champions League or the J.League title are out of reach. With a large number of supporters watching the training session in Suita, the former Gamba player, who admitted that he was approached to take over immediately following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at home to Jubilo Iwata, and who describes himself as having “blue blood running through his veins” looked visibly at home and calmly dissected Gamba’s current predicament. Acknowledging a return of four goals scored and twelve conceded in just five games is insufficient, he added that “[if] you are able to sustain an attacking rhythm, the defence will follow accordingly.”