Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Asia: Three big leagues take a break for World Cup

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 29, 2010
Shimuzu S-Pulse

Shimuzu S-Pulse (in orange) currently lead the way in Japan's "J League"

With the FIFA World Cup only days away the three biggest leagues in Asian football are taking a break ahead of the big kick-off in South Africa on Friday, June 11th. Although China has failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup the Chinese Super League has taken a break until July 14th along with Japan’s J League whilst the South Korean K League returns three days later on July 17th. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the latest developments and looks ahead to the next matchday in each country:

JAPAN (Shimuzu 12/25; Nagoya Grampus Eight 12/22; Kashima Antlers 11/21)

Shimuzu S-Pulse are making the early running in the Japanese championship after twelve rounds although defending champions Kashima Antlers are still hanging on having been involved in the AFC Champions League until their recent exit in that competition at the hands of Pohang Steelers. Shimuzu S-Pulse, the only club in the current top four who have a Japanese coach, enjoy a three point cushion at the break having only secured a 2-2 draw away at FC Tokyo on Matchday 12.

Kashima Antlers’ chances at the top have significantly increased after their recent 4-1 drubbing of second place Grampus Eight in Nagoya last time out. Takuya Nozawa, Shinko Koroki, Marquinhos and Masashi Motoyama were on target for the champions with the lone reply coming from Australian Joshua Kennedy whose strike in this game took him to the top of the J League’s goalscoring charts with eight goals. But Nagoya, currently coached by former Crvena Zvezda and Olympique de Marseille star Dragan Stojković, have performed well thus far and will hope to get back on track on Matchday 13 against lowly Omiya Ardija. Elsewhere Urawa Red Diamonds and Kawasaki Frontale, both tied on twenty points, lost the chance to put further pressure on the top three having lost points in their most recent matches, a 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai and a 3-1 defeat at Jubilo Iwata respectively.

NEXT FIXTURES (14/07/10)

Kashima Antlers v Shonan Bellmare

Kawasaki Frontale v Omiya Ardija

(17/07/10)

Omiya Ardija v Nagoya Grampus Eight

Shimiuzu S-Pulse v Jubilo Iwata

Kashima Antlers v Kawasaki Frontale

(18/07/10)

Gamba Osaka v Urawa Red Diamonds

Sanfreece Hiroshima v Yokohama Marinos

CHINA (Shanghai 10 games/20 points; Shandong 9/16; Liaoning 10/15)

Defending champions Beijing Guo’an have found it tough going so far in the current campaign, perhaps aided by their AFC Champions League exploits, and currently lie in mid-table eight points behind league leaders Shanghai Shenhua. Having lost their most recent game 2-0 to Hangzhou Lucheng perhaps Guo’an can step up their title challenge upon the resumption of the league, especially now that South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings have knocked them out of the Asian Champions League at the Round of 16 stage.

Shanghai Shenhua have a four point lead going into the break after their narrow 1-0 home win against Shenzhen Ruby and have accumulated twenty points from the first ten games thanks mainly to the goals of the league’s top scorer, Colombian striker Duvier Riascos. Their nearest challengers at the moment are Shandong Luneng who, sadly for them, lost their most recent fixture 1-0 to Shannxi Chanba but they still have a game in hand on the leaders so can close the gap in their next outing against Qingdao Jondon. The big surprise so far is newly promoted Liaoning Hunyong who lie third after ten games following their recent 1-0 win against Chongqing Lifan but Henan Jianye hang on to their coat tails despite dropping two points at home to Qingdao Jondon on Matchday 10 of the league.

Next Fixtures (14/07/10)

Shannxi Chanba v Shanghai Shenhua

Beijing Guo’an v Chongqing Lifan

Henan Jianye v Changsha Ginde

Qingdao Jondon v Shandong Luneng

Nanchang Bayi v Liaoning Hunyong

Changchun Yatai v Hangzhou Lucheng

Waldemar Lemos

Waldemar Lemos has just recently been sacked by Pohang Steelers after a string of poor results

SOUTH KOREA (Ulsan Hyundai 12/24; Jeju United 12/22; Seongnam Ilhwa 12/21)

It’s been a strange season in South Korea up to now especially regarding the clubs involved in AFC Champions League (AFC CL) action this season. Pohang Steelers, the defending champions of Asian football’s elite competition, have just fired their Brazilian coach Waldemar Lemos after the Steelers’ form at domestic level was in total contrast with that at international level. In the K League Pohang have lost four out of their last five matches with their most recent defeat, 5-2 at home to Jeju United, being the final straw for the Steelers’ board. Pohang currently lie in twelfth place but this is still better than their fellow AFC CL participants Suwon Samsung Bluewings who are rooted to rock bottom of the K League table after eleven matches played and their most recent match saw them lose 2-0 at home to table toppers Ulsan Hyundai.

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the best performing out of the AFC CL participants and currently lie in fourth place with a game in hand on Ulsan after easily overcoming Chunnam Dragons in their last outing by four goals to nil. Ulsan Hyundai finished fourth last season and will have ambitions to remain in this area especially as they find themselves top of the table going into the pre-World Cup break. Until recently FC Seoul led the way but a 1-0 reverse to sixth place Incheon United saw the capital side lose some valuable ground whilst fifth place Gyeongnam FC also lost their last league game by the same scoreline, their opponents being Busan I’Park.

NEXT FIXTURES (17/07/10)

FC Seoul v Chunnam Dragons

Ulsan Hyundai v Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Jeju United v Gangwon FC

Daegu FC v Suwon Smasung Bluewings

Busan I’Park v Pohang Steelers

Gyongnam FC v Gwangju Sangmu

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