J.League confirms suspended players for next round

The J.League on Monday announced its list of players who are suspended for the week’s upcoming MEIJI YASUDA J2 and J3 League fixtures.

Tokyo Verdy pair Yuya Sato and Masaki Chugo both miss out of Wednesday’s trip to FC Gifu, while Cerezo Osaka must do without veteran defender Noriyuki Sakemoto.

In addition, Ehime FC’s Mutsumi Tamabayashi and Giravanz Kitakyushu’s Hiroyuki Nishijima are both ruled out of the matchday 22 fixtures.

Suspensions extend to the J3 League, with Tatsuya Kumagai of Blaublitz Akita and Wataru Ikenaga of Renofa Yamaguchi missing out this weekend’s action.


J.League donates kits to Bhutanese children

The J.League, in collaboration with the Bhutan Football Federation, presented 200 team kits to Bhutanese children in the country’s capital city of Thimphu on Friday.

The children, wearing the jerseys contributed by J.League fans from across Japan, then participated in a football workshop.

Japanese international charity organisation Sports For Tomorrow, who have previously conducted similar activities in Cambodia, Timor Leste and Myanmar are responsible for the intiative.

The group’s goal is to distribute 10,000 J.League kits to children across Asia.


95th Emperor’s Cup schedule announced

The Japan Football Association on Thursday revealed the bracket for the first three rounds of the 95th Emperor’s Cup.

Japan’s longest-running football tournament will feature 88 participants in 2015, including all 40 MEJI YASUDA J1 and J2 clubs, one seeded team, and 47 prefectural representatives.

The first round of the single-elimination tournament will take place on August 29 and 30, with the final taking place on January 1, 2016 at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo.

AFC Champions League quarterfinalists Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol plus MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners Urawa Reds and runners-up FC Tokyo will be seeded directly into the round of 16.

Based on the results of the 2014 season, Matsumoto Yamaga and Montedio Yamagata will join all 22 MEIJI YASUDA J2 League clubs in participating from the first round.

As a result of changes to tournament regulations, high school and youth teams will no longer be able to participate in the tournament, bringing an end to a practice which began in 1996.

Pairings for the fourth round (round of 16) and beyond will be announced following the conclusion of the third round.

Last term’s Treble winners Gamba are the defending champions after beating Montedio in last year’s final.


King Kazu and Marquinhos join Antlers testimonial match

Kazuyoshi Miura, the J.League’s oldest scorer, will team with retired Kashima Antlers trio Koji Nakata, Toru Araiba and Atsushi Yanagisawa in their testimonial match.

The 48-year-old “King Kazu” will join KAY FRIENDS, a team composed of the three retired players and their close friends, in their farewell game on July 5 at Kashima Stadium.

They will be facing ANTLERS LEGENDS, a team mainly composed of former Kashima Antlers stars.

Vissel Kobe striker and J.League legend Marquinhos along with JEF United Chiba’s veteran Takayuki Suzuki have now also been confirmed to join the latter team.


Mitsuru Murai visits Football Association of Malaysia

J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai visited Malaysia in June to promote the ongoing partnership with the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and Malaysian Super League (MSL).

At a June 18 press conference in Kuala Lumpur, Chairman Murai recalled the two country’s shared footballing history, including Malaysia’s role as host of the November 16, 1997 match against Iran in which Japan clinched their first-ever World Cup appearance.

“Johor Bahru is a memorable place for us,” Murai told an audience of dignitaries and journalists. “We appreciate, from the bottom of our heart, your support in letting us play the game there.”

The J.League’s partnership with the MSL, signed on February 2 of this year, is one of many similar agreements in place between the J.League and other Asian countries to promote the development of football across the continent.

Amongst other things, the Memorandum of Understanding calls for the two organisations to hold joint seminars on league and club management.

Friendly matches between clubs from the two countries, Corporate Social Responsibility activities and support regarding the expansion of J.League broadcasts within Malaysia are also arranged.

“Over two decades, the J.League has developed into one of the best leagues in Asia,” Murai said.

“We have lots of knowledge, experience and human resources in the area of league and club management, marketing, and youth development.

“Our aim is to share these assets and contribute to the development of football in Asia.

“Through this partnership, we are looking forward to accelerating the development of the Malaysian Super League and J.League, which will lead to the development of our national teams.”


Halilhodzic announces June Japan squad

The Japan Football Association on Monday revealed a squad of 25 members for both of Japan’s June fixtures.

The Samurai Blues will first face Iraq in a Kirin Challenge Cup match at Nissan Stadium next Thursday.

It will effectively serve as preparation before they welcome Singapore to Saitama Stadium on 16th June in their first joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying match.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic’s squad includes current MEIJI YASUDA J1 League top scorer Takashi Usami as well as FC Tokyo’s Mainz-bound Yoshinori Muto.

A total of 13 players representing Japanese sides have been listed, with Gamba Osaka defender Daiki Niwa and Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Shogo Taniguchi receiving their first senior call-ups.

Meanwhile, Cerezo Osaka midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi was the only selection from a J2 League club.

Below is the list of Japan’s full squad:

Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege/Belgium)
Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart/Germany)
Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96/Germany)
Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter/Italy)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton/England)
Daiki Niwa (Gamba Osaka)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)

Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany)
Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/Germany)
Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover 96/Germany)

Keisuke Honda (AC Milan/Italy)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin/Germany)
Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka)
Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)
Shinji Okazaki (Mainz/Germany)
Yuya Osako (Koln/Germany)
Kengo Kawamata (Nagoya Grampus)


J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai welcomes former coach Gert Engels

J.League chairman Mitsuru Murai received prominent former J.League coach Gert Engels in a courtesy visit last Friday.

The 58-year-old coach of Mozambique managed Yokohama Flugels, JEF United Ichihara (now JEF United Chiba), Kyoto Purple Sanga (now Kyoto Sanga) and Urawa Reds.

The German notably won the Emperor’s Cup with Flugels in 1998, and Sanga in 2002.

The pair discussed the Tohoku GenKIDS! Project, a non-profit organisation promoted by Engels which holds football courses and other events for children in the Tohoku region of Japan.


Japan legend King Kazu sends birthday greeting to J.League

Legendary striker Kazuyoshi Miura penned his congratulations to the J.League on the 22nd anniversary of its inception on Friday.

The first-ever J.League match between Verdy Kawasaki and Yokohama Marinos – now Tokyo Verdy and Yokohama F.Marinos respectively – had been played on 15th May 1993.

And Samurai Blue icon Miura, popularly known as “King Kazu”, is the only player from that match to still be active in the league.

The 48-year-old has already netted two MEIJI YASUDA J2 League goals for Yokohama FC this season, further extending his record as the oldest ever scorer in the J.League.


Kani and Jakovic on J.League suspension list

The J.League on Wednesday released a list of players who will be suspended from taking part in their respective clubs’ upcoming fixtures.

Shonan Bellmare had to make do without Masataka Kani against Kashiwa Reysol on Thursday, after the midfielder reached the yellow card limit in last weekend’s win at Ventforet Kofu.

Dejan Jakovic will meanwhile miss Shimizu S-Pulse’s next two league fixtures, after he received his marching orders for booting the ball away against Vissel Kobe last time out.

The J.League’s jurisdiction extends to the Yamazaki Nabisco cup, with Korean pair Kim Jong-Pil and Choi Sung-Keun to miss the next games for Bellmare and Sagan Tosu respectively.

Albirex Niigata will meanwhile be without Kentaro Oi for the Nabisco Cup round 6 clash with visiting Bellmare.


J.League hand out suspensions

The J.League confirmed it dealt out suspensions of varying severity to several on Tuesday.

Kashima Antlers’ Caio and Shimizu S-Pulse pair Yosuke Kawai and Dejan Jakovic will all miss matchday 5 of the MEIJI YASUDA J1 League as a result.

Kim Min-Hyeok of Sagan Tosu was found to be engaging in dangerous play against Kashima Antlers’ Mu Kanazaki last Friday, and his penalty has been adjusted accordingly.

The Korean centre-back will therefore suspended for matchdays 5 and 6 of the league, and rounds 3 and 4 of the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup.

It was also confirmed S-Pulse goalkeeper Kenpei Usui will miss round 4 of the Nabisco Cup against Vegalta Sendai.


Fukumura to bolster S-Pulse defence until 2016

Shimizu S-Pulse announced that Takayuki Fukumura joined the club on loan from Kyoto Sanga FC on Wednesday.

Fukumura will be at the club until 31st January 2016 to bolster a defence that has shipped just two goals in three games, and began by addressing his new fans.

“I hope to get used to the club as soon as possible and I will do my best to contribute to victories,” the 23-year-old said in a club statement. “Please support me!”

The left-back joined Sanga in 2010 upon graduating from high school, making his professional debut the following season.

He has since played 112 games in the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League, managing to score twice.


Halilhodzic’s selects maiden Japan squad for Tunisia test

Newly-appointed Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has unveiled a 31-man squad for the upcoming international fixtures at the end of March.


Among his selections on Thursday for the friendlies against Tunisia and Uzbekistan were 18 players currently playing for J.League clubs.


Gamba Osaka defender Hiroki Fujiharu received his first senior call-up, although his captain and Japan record appearance holder Yasuhito Endo is a high-profile casualty.


Halilhodzic took over the Samurai Blues in March and was spotted scouting FC Tokyo players at the weekend while being present for Wednesday’s Yamazaki Nabisco Cup tie between Kawasaki Frontale and Nagoya Grampus.


An additional 10 J.League players have been selected as backup members in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as injuries.


Japan will face Tunisia on 27th March in Oita before welcoming Uzbekistan on 31st March in Tokyo.


Below is the list of 28 players called up from J.League clubs:


Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)
*Akihiro Hayashi (Sagan Tosu)


Hiroki Mizumoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)
Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo)
Hiroki Fujiharu (Gamba Osaka)
Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
*Kazuhiko Chiba (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
*Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
*Daisuke Suzuki (Kashiwa Reysol)
*Shintaro Kurumaya (Kawasaki Frontale)


Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka)
Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka)
Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
*Takuji Yonemoto (FC Tokyo)
*Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale)
*Kotaro Omori (Gamba Osaka)


Shinzo Koroki (Urawa Reds)
Yu Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale)
Kensuke Nagai (Nagoya Grampus)
Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)
*Yohei Toyoda (Sagan Tosu)
*Kengo Kawamata (Nagoya Grampus)

(* Indicates backup squad)


King Kazu extends record as oldest player in J.League

Yokohama FC’s Kazuyoshi Miura extended his record as oldest player to play in the J.League when he featured in the the MEIJI YASUDA J2 League game on Sunday.

“King Kazu” started the game versus Tochigi SC remarkably aged 48 years and 17 days old, and lasted until the 64th minute before being substituted.

Both teams went on to draw 1-1, Makoto Sugimoto levelling the match for Yokohama after Tochigi opened the scoring.

Miura is embarking on his 29th season in professional football and has settled down in Yokohama since the 2006 season after spells in Italy, Croatia and Australia.