Japanese Soccer News Urawa v Gamba

J-League News: Urawa and Gamba Osaka to fight it out at the death!


After a penalty shoot-out finish in the Championship playoff of 2004 and Gamba Osaka's dramatic injury time decider last season, the J-League will go down to the wire for a third season in succession.

Urawa Reds will take on Gamba Osaka at a sold-out Saitama Stadium next Saturday in a head-to-head showdown to decide the 2006 J-League champions. Urawa are in the driving seat as they can afford to lose by a margin of two goals and still claim the title.

Urawa supporters swamped Ajinomoto Stadium this weekend but their legion of fans in the crowd of 41,528 had to postpone the title celebrations, as FC Tokyo held the Reds to a 0-0 draw.

In Osaka, Magno Alves' last minute winner saw Gamba triumph 3-2 over bottom club Kyoto Purple Sanga, and keep the title race alive until the last day of the season. That result means Kyoto are relegated to J2 for the third time in their history.

It was a shoot-out of sorts at Gamba's Expo '70 Stadium, as Magno Alves traded goals with his Brazilian counterpart Paulinho. Paulinho opened the scoring for Kyoto, before Alves struck twice for Gamba. Paulinho equalised with just ten minutes remaining, before Alves completed his hat-trick with a last minute header. That goal took Alves to the top of the goalscoring charts. He has scored 25 goals in the J-League this season, one more than Urawa's Brazilian striker Washington.

Elsewhere Ryoichi Maeda's penalty settled a dull Shizuoka derby at Ecopa Stadium. Maeda's goal was all that the crowd of 37,711 had to cheer, as Jubilo Iwata ran out 1-0 winners over local rivals, Shimizu S-Pulse. Jungo Fujimoto came closest for S-Pulse; his delicate chip beat Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi in the Jubilo goal but rebounded off the crossbar.

In J2, Yokohama FC became the first team to win promotion when they beat Sagan Tosu 1-0. That victory also wrapped up the title for Yokohama FC and came courtesy of former Kyoto striker Alemao, who scored the winner in the 77th minute. Yokohama will start their first ever J1 campaign without their former Japan international Shoji Jo. The 31 year old has announced his retirement.

Vissel Kobe lie in second on the table, after their 2-2 home draw with Shonan Bellmare. Kashiwa Reysol lost 3-2 to Consadole Sapporo at home, meaning that they drop down to third. The league's third placed team will playoff against the sixteenth placed finishers from J1, for the right to play in the First Division next season.

Japan National Teams

Japan National Team

November 15, Sapporo

Japan vs Saudi Arabia

Japan produced their best performance to date under Ivica Osim, beating Saudi Arabia 3-1 to finish top of their Asian Cup qualifying group. In front of just under 41,000 fans at the Sapporo Dome, Japan opened the scoring when Urawa defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka stabbed home after Seiichiro Maki's header had been cleared off the line.

Kawasaki Frontale frontman Kazuki Ganaha replaced the injured Ryuji Bando up front, and Ganaha scored the first of his two goals when he headed home Yasuyuki Konno's cross after 29 minutes. Saudi Arabia pulled one back when Yasser Al Qahtani fired home from the penalty spot, after Konno was adjudged to have pulled down the Saudi striker.

Japan dominated the second half and Ganaha scored his second when he swept home Yuichi Komano's cross in the 49th minute. Japan could have added a fourth in injury time when substitute Daiki Takamatsu was brought down in the box. Marcus Tulio Tanaka fired the resultant spot-kick over the crossbar, however.

The result will give Japan renewed optimism ahead of next year's Asian Cup finals, after they outplayed Saudi Arabia for long periods of this match. Japan's next match is a friendly against arch rivals South Korea in March 2007.

Japan under 21 National Team

November 21, Tokyo

Japan vs South Korea

Japan and South Korea played out a 1-1 draw, in front of 22,115 fans at the National Stadium in Tokyo. The teams were preparing for the upcoming Asian Games in Doha, where Japan will take on Pakistan, Turkmenistan and DPR Korea in their group.

South Korea opened the scoring through Yang Dong Hyen in injury time at the end of the first half. Kashima Antlers midfielder Chikashi Masuda equalised with fifteen minutes remaining. A week earlier the two teams had played out another 1-1 draw in the South Korean city of Changwon.

Japan Women's National Team

November 19, Chiba and November 23, Karlsruhe

Japan beat Australia 1-0 in a match played in driving rain at Fukuda Denshi Arena in Chiba. Shinobu Ohno scored the only goal after 51 minutes.

Ohno also found the back of the net against Germany four days later, however Japan lost that match 6-3 in Karlsruhe. Aya Miyama and Karina Maruyama were Japan's other goalscorers. A Petra Wimbersky double added to goals from Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, Kerstin Garefrekes, Birgit Prinz and Conny Pohlers for Germany.

Japan take on the Maldives, Jordan and China in their Asian Games group.

Japanese Players Overseas

Japanese players have been having a stellar time in Europe of late, with Shunsuke Nakamura and Junichi Inamoto both scoring in the last round of UEFA Champions League matches. Teruo Iwamoto, however, was sent off on his debut for Auckland City in the New Zealand Football Championship.

Shunsuke Nakamura: Celtic

Nakamura fired Celtic into the second round of the UEFA Champions League, scoring a sensational free-kick against Manchester United. Nakamura's goal proved the winner at Celtic Park, after goalkeeper Artur Boruc saved Louis Saha's last minute penalty.

Junichi Inamoto: Galatasaray

It seems that rumours of Inamoto's demise at Galatasaray have been greatly exaggerated, as he drove home his first ever Champions League goal against Bordeaux. The goal was merely a consolation, however, as Galatasaray lost 3-1.

Koji Nakata: FC Basel

Nakata played the full ninety minutes of Basel's 2-2 draw with Nancy in the UEFA Cup but lasted just half an hour of the match against FC Z├╝rich at the weekend. Nakata, who was recovering from a broken nose, was hit in the face by a Blerim Dzemaili shot and was forced from the field with blood pouring from his nose.

Kenji Fukuda: Numancia

Fukuda has been in goalscoring form of late, and he scored again in a recent 1-1 draw against Deportivo Alaves.

Teruo Iwamoto: Auckland City

Iwamoto's preparations for the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup were thrown into disarray, when he was sent off in the last minute of his debut for Auckland City. Iwamoto missed Auckland's 5-1 weekend win at Otago through suspension.

Japanese Soccer News Urawa v Gamba.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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