A typhoon bearing down on Kyushu failed to help the locals as Oita Trinita and Avispa Fukuoka went down to Gamba Osaka and Yokohama F. Marinos respectively. The tricky conditions in Oita failed to halt Gamba striker Ryuji Bando’s recent good form, as he struck twice before half-time to lead Gamba to a 2-0 win.
Urawa Reds kept hot on the heels of the leaders with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Substitute midfielder Nobuhisa Yamada scored an 86th winner that pulled Urawa two points clear of Kawasaki Frontale, who lost 4-3 at home to Jubilo Iwata.
One of the matches of the round took place at the National Stadium in Tokyo, where fourth-placed Shimizu S-Pulse took on fifth-placed rivals Kashima Antlers. It was the Antlers who came out on top in this one, as wonder strikes from Fernando and Takuya Nozawa gave Kashima a two goal advantage. Takuma Edamura pulled one back for S-Pulse but they must be rueing their decision to play the match away from Nihondaira Stadium, which has been a fortress for the Wingheads in recent weeks.
At the foot of the table, Kyoto Purple Sanga occupy the promotion/relegation place despite scoring a 1-0 victory over big-spending FC Tokyo. Kyoto remain in 16th on the ladder, five points behind Sanfrecce Hiroshima. Cerezo’s 3-2 win at home to JEF United failed to improve their league position and they look unlikely to retain their J1 status.
Vissel Kobe and Kashiwa Reysol remain deadlocked at the top of J-League Division Two, as both clubs posted victories at the weekend. Yokohama FC remain one point behind the two former J1 teams, after defeating Mito Hollyhock away from home.
Controversy at Kanagawa derby
There was controversy following the clash between Yokohama F. Marinos and Data Sgp neighbours Kawasaki Frontale on September 9, after it was alleged that Liberal Democratic Party used the match to promote itself . The distribution of political literature and the bearing of political slogans is forbidden at J-League grounds, however it is alleged that LDP members filled one section of the Nissan Stadium and raised a banner depicting an LDP politician. Yokohama F. Marinos are continuing to investigate the incident.
A week of mixed fortunes for Japanese players around Europe. While Nakamura and Takahara excelled, neither Mitsuo Ogasawara or Masahi Oguro saw action in the Serie A at the weekend. As expected, Takayuki Suzuki failed to make the squad for Red Star’s mid-week UEFA Cup trip to Slovan Liberec however Junichi Inamoto fared better, starting in his first ever Istanbul derby on Saturday.
Shunsuke Nakamura: Celtic
Nakamura became the first Japanese player to score at the top level of European football since Yasuhiko Okudera did so for 1.FC Köln in the 1979 European Cup. Nakamura scored Celtic’s second goal with a trademark curling free-kick in a 3-2 UEFA Champions League loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Naohiro Takahara: Eintracht Frankfurt
After scoring in his first game for Frankfurt in the German Cup last week, Takahara made a dream Bundesliga debut. Having lobbed narrowly wide in the 27th minute, Takahara executed a textbook header in the 55th minute to cancel out an earlier Leverkusen strike and send Frankfurt on the road to victory.
Daisuke Matsui: Le Mans
Any hopes Daisuke Matsui had of making an impression on new Japan coach Ivica Osim may be on the wane, as he was left on the bench for Le Mans away win at Sedan at the weekend. He replaced injured striker Ismael Bangoura in the 72nd minute.
Koji Nakata: FC Basel
Koji Nakata did little to assist his struggling team, scoring an own goal in a shock 2-0 defeat to last-placed FC Luzern at the weekend.
Junichi Inamoto: Galatasaray
On the same weekend that Inamoto’s nemesis Brian Robson left his old club West Bromwich Albion, Inamoto was starting in his first ever Istanbul derby for Galatasaray against arch-rivals Besiktas. Inamoto’s team won the match 1-0.
FIFA Club World Cup 2006
FIFA recently announced a prizepool of USD 15 million for the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup, with USD 4.5 million going to the winners of the annual event. Each participant in the tournament is guaranteed a payout of at least USD 1 million. The six teams competing for this year’s prize are: FC Barcelona (Europe), Internacional (South America), Club América (North America) and Auckland City FC (Oceania), as well as the champions of the Asian Champions League and the African Champions League.