FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Kashiwa Reysol
Kashiwa Reysol secured the J-League title and a place in the FIFA Club World Cup as the host nation’s representatives following a climatic finish to the season in Japan this weekend. The title triumph was all the more remarkable given that the team had only won promotion from the Japanese second division last season. Kashiwa will face Oceania champions Auckland City in a qualifying play-off this Thursday and, if successful, will proceed to a quarter-final meeting with North and Central American winners Monterrey CF.
After 33 rounds of games Kashiwa led the standings by just one point from defending champions Nagoya Grampus Eight with Gamba Osaka just one point further back and hoping to take advantage of any slip-ups from the front runners. Sadly for Kashiwa’s challengers the league leaders had been in great form recently, only dropping four out of a possible thirty points in their previous ten matches ahead of their last day showdown away to Urawa Red Diamonds whose top flight status had only been secured the weekend before.
For Kashiwa, however, any pre-match nerves would’ve been settled by the half-time break with Jorge Wagner and Wataru Hashimoto giving the league leaders a 2-0 advantage after 45 minutes. Yosuke Kashiwagi pulled one back for Urawa after 53 minutes and a nervous finish to the season awaited for Kashiwa. Mercifully for the leaders Akimi Barada sealed the destination of the 2011 J-League title with a quarter of an hour left on the clock, his goal making the score 3-1 and the celebrations, which had been put on hold for the last few weeks, were finally able to begin. Wins on the road for Nagoya Grampus Eight (1-0 v Albirex Niigata) and Gamba Osaka (3-1 v Shimuzu S-Pulse) ultimately proved academic as Kashiwa secured their first ever J-League championship with a record of 23 wins, 3 draws and 8 defeats, a total of 72 points.
Kashiwa Reysol now only have four days to prepare for their FIFA Club World Cup debut against an in-form Auckland City team whose record this season has brought a perfect 100% record of seven wins from seven games in all competitions. Auckland City also have experience in this tournament having competed twice before in 2006 and 2009 so may handle the big occasion better. However this is a Kashiwa side that has defied the odds in becoming the first ever club to win the J-League straight after winning promotion and, with no track record to speak of in this tournament, are hoping that their relative anonymity might catch their New Zealand opponents off-guard. Plus, with the added motivation of representing host nation Japan, Kashiwa Reysol will be hoping that this season can become even more memorable.
KASHIWA REYSOL WIN THE 2011 J-LEAGUE v URAWA RED DIAMONDS