In the second part of his mid-season assessment of those teams looking to ascend to J.League status, @GifuRichy looks at those clubs from Japan’s regional leagues that are making a concerted push for the promised land.
* a quick note – this piece was given to me at the end of July, but due to time constraints and a general feeling of lethargy due to the incredible summer humidity I’ve only just got round to posting it. The results might be a little out of date, but the information & analysis is watertight in the extreme. Richy, once again, take it away…..
Chasing the J – The Regions
In order to have a chance to be able to be promoted to the JFL teams have to first make it to the Regional League Finals. There are currently two ways to get there:
1) Become the top team in your league.
2) Enter the All Japan Shakaijin Tournament. A brutal 5 day knockout tournament held in October where the top 3 teams gain a place in the Regional League Finals.
Fukui – Saurcos Fukui
The Hokushinetsu League has been a bit of a surprise in 2016, with Nagano’s Artista Toubu leading the pack with just 2 games to go. Saurcos (2nd – 29pts), who have won 9 and drawn 2 while conceding just 3 goals, sit just 2 points behind Artista (1st – 31pts) on the table, although Saurcos do have one game in hand. The next game for Saurcos vs Artista on September 18th in Fukui will likely decide the League Champion.
Regional Finals Chances: Saurcos look a good bet to make the finals. A win over Artista would almost guarantee it, although a draw would probably be enough.
Mie – Suzuka Unlimited, Veertien Mie, FC Ise-Shima
Kariya FC have blown away the teams so far from Mie in this years Tokai Soccer League. They are unbeaten on 27pts. Behind them are Suzuka, Veertien and Ise-Shima all on 20pts. Of these teams Suzuka still has 8 games remaining, Kariya 7, and Veertien and Ise- Shima 6. This only really leaves Suzuka with a decent chance to beat Kariya to the top of the league. Both teams face off against each other on September 18th and October 2nd, which will play a big part on deciding who the league champion is.
In the battle of Mie between Suzuka and Veertien, Suzuka came out on top with a 2-2 home draw, followed by a 2-1 away win over in front of 1151 people.
Ise-Shima, not to be outdone by Suzuka and Veertien, have put in a serious bid to make the finals and have drawn Suzuka and Veertien in both of their games.
Regional Finals Chances: If Kariya doesn’t lose to Suzuka and then doesn’t screw up against any of their remaining opponents they look like they will go on to the finals as they did last year. Suzuka, Veertien and Ise-Shima will likely have to battle it out through the Shakaijin Tournament and there’s probably a reasonable chance of one of the teams getting a result there.
Wakayama – Arterivo Wakayama
Arterivo have blown away all rivals and are currently sitting 1st in the Kansai Top League on 31 points. They are unbeaten in 11 games and have only drawn once (0-0 with Kakogawa). Their nearest rivals are Amity SC Kyoto on 25 points.
Regional Finals Chances: Considering there are only 3 league games to go, Arterivo are almost a certainty to make the Finals.
Shimane – Matsue City, Dezolla Shimane
Matsue City, with a few wobbles, are currently leading the Chugoku League with 30 points and a 9W3D1L record. Directly below them is not Dezolla, but SRC Hiroshima on 28 points. Dezolla Shimane are back in 6 th place on 17 points and were demolished 3-0 by Matsue City when the teams met in Round 9.
Regional Finals Chances: With 5 games to go in the league Matsue City have a pretty decent chance of winning the league. Dezolla have a slim chance of making the finals but it looks like they will have to pull out something special in the Shakaijin Tournament.
Kochi – Kochi United
With 4 games remaining FC Imabari (30pts +42) hold a slim 2 point lead over Kochi United (28pts +56) although Imabari have a game in hand. Kochi started the season well with a 4- 0 win over Alverio Takamatsu in front of 1000 people but their 2-1 away loss to Imabari has left them behind in 2nd ever since. The teams meet again on September 18th in Kochi, and Kochi will have to win this game and hope that Imabari slip up in one of their remaining four games to claim the title.
Regional Finals Chances: Slim. Most likely Kochi will have to work some magic at the Shakaijin Tournament which won’t be easy.
Miyazaki – Tegevajaro Miyazaki, J.FC Miyazaki
The Kyushu League has had a shaky year, with the Kumamoto Earthquake occurring, meaning that Rounds 3 to 11 off the league have been cancelled altogether which means that only 9 games will be played. Tegevajaro and J.FC Miyazaki have both played 3 and won 3. In a training match in May, Tegevajaro beat J.FC Miyazaki 2-0 to get bragging rights over their rivals but it’s still early days.
Regional Finals Chances: With 6 games to go there are four unbeaten teams on 9 points (Tegevajaro, J.FC, Shintetsu Steel Oita, Kyushu Mitsubishi). It’s too early to say but Tegevajaro have been impressive in Training matches against J2 opposition, and September 11 will be a big day for them as they face J.FC Miyazaki. The winner of this game will have a great chance at clinching the league title.