Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Japan: Kashiwa secure 2012 Emperor’s Cup

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on January 1, 2013

In the first major footballing showpiece final of this year, Kashiwa Reysol secured Japanese football’s major domestic knockout competition when defeating Gamba Osaka 1-0 in the 2012 (yes, that is 2012 as opposed to 2013) Emperor’s Cup final in the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Kashiwa Reysol went into the game as favourites, the team having finished the 2012 J-League 1 season in a respectable sixth place. In contrast their opponents Gamba Osaka finished the most recent league campaign in seventeenth place in the 18 team league and were relegated into J-League 2 for next season. Despite this Gamba Osaka gave it their all and were unfortunate to have a goal chalked off for offside early in the game. Kashiwa Reysol, however, would ultimately make Osaka pay as Hirofumi Watanabe’s goal in the 35th minute proved the difference between the two teams.

Kashiwa’s victory was the third time that the club had won Japan’s version of the F.A. Cup, the other two Emperor’s Cup titles coming in the 1970s when Reysol were known as Hitachi Sports Club, whilst today’s success ensures that Kashiwa have won a major trophy for the third season in succession following their 2010 J-League 2 and 2011 J-League 1 successes. Kashiwa Reysol will also take part in the 2013 AFC Champions League as their reward for today’s cup heroics.

FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Kashiwa Reysol

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Kashiwa Reysol logoKashiwa 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

Asia: Title showdowns bring tension in Japan and Korea

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on November 26, 2011

Kashiwa Reysol logoTo coin a well-known footballing phrase, it’s squeaky bum time in two of Asia’s biggest leagues.

In Japan the title will go down to a last day showdown with any one from Kashiwa Reysol, Nagoya Grampus Eight and Gamba Osaka all capable of winning the championship. Kashiwa currently hold the advantage of topping the table with 69 points from 33 games whilst Nagoya and Osaka trail the leaders by just one and two points respectively with one round of matches to be played next weekend. The title race has become all the more tension filled due to Kashiwa’s inability to beat Cerezo Osaka at home today, both teams having to be satisfied with a point following a 1-1 draw. The slip allowed Kashiwa’s title rivals to reduce the gap at the top with defending champions Nagoya and third place Gamba Osaka enjoying wins against Yamagata (3-0) and Vegalta Sendai (1-0) respectively. Next weekend’s final round of fixtures sees all three title chasers on the road with Kashiwa away to Urawa Red Diamonds, Grampus Eight hosted by Albirex Niigata and Gamba Osaka travelling to Shimuzu S-Pulse. Not only will the team at the top of the table enjoy championship celebrations next weekend but they also have the added incentive of participating in the FIFA Club World Cup as representatives of the host nation from December 8th.

Ulsan Hyundai logoIn South Korea the championship play-offs have brought about a surprise finalist as Ulsan Hyundai, who finished sixth in the regular season table, defeated experienced campaigners Pohang Steelers with a slender 1-0 score line in today’s semi-final. Seol Ki-Hyeon scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute of the game and managed to hold on to their precious lead despite a late flurry of attacks from the home side. The K-League enjoys a play-off system similar to the one used in the sport of rugby league at the end of its regular season, the system usually weighs heavily in favour of the top teams who play the fewest matches in order to claim the championship title. However Ulsan have surprised everybody by fighting their way through every round of the post-season tournament beating the likes of last season’s defending champions FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and today’s opponents Pohang to reach the final. They will play Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the two-legged showpiece with Ulsan hosting the opening leg on Wednesday, November 30th and Jeonbuk, who have rested throughout the play-offs up to this point, hosting the return fixture on December 4th.

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Japan: Four way title battles ensures tight finish to season

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 20, 2011

J-League logoWith twelve rounds of matches to play in the Japanese J-League there is an intriguing four way battle for title honours. Last season’s champions Nagoya Grampus Eight are, along with Yokohama Marinos, just one point behind the top two of Gamba Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol (22 games, 43 points).

Gamba Osaka were involved in the tie of the weekend getting the better of  Kawasaki Frontale by six goals to three with Brazilian Rafinha scoring a hat-trick and helping stretch Gamba’s unbeaten run to seven matches. They have the privilege of first place due to a better goal difference over second place Kashiwa Reysol who also triumphed at home this weekend with a 3-2 win over bottom club Avispa Fukuoka. Kashiwa were a goal down early on but came back to ensure the three points and second place.

Champions Nagoya could have been top of the table but were surprisingly beaten 1-0 at home to Vegalta Sendai. Noaki Sugai’s 17th minute strike for the visitors proved to be the difference as Nagoya went down to their first league defeat since May, bringing a sixteen match unbeaten run to an end. Nagoya are now looking over their shoulders at Yokohama Marinos for whom Yuji Ono’s late winner six minutes from time gave the fourth placed side a 1-0 win over Jubilo Iwata.

Fifth placed Kashima Antlers, who won the J-League title three years in a row from 2007-09, have now won their last five games in a row, the latest being a 2-0 victory over Sanfreece Hiroshima today with both goals coming in the second half, but they are still some way off the leaders trailing Gamba by ten points.

At the bottom of the table it was a mixed bag of results for those teams in relegation trouble this weekend. Following their defeat to Kashiwa, bottom club Avispa Fukuoka’s position wasn’t helped by 16th place Ventforet Kofu’s 3-2 home win against Urawa Red Diamonds whilst second bottom Montedio Yamagata gained a point away to 15th place Omiya Ardija who are four points outside the relegation zone as the table currently stands.

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Japan: J-League resumes following tragic period

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on April 25, 2011

J-League logoThe Japanese J-League has resumed some seven weeks following the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami which hit the country in early March. Some Japanese clubs have had to keep playing football in the AFC Champions League competition but the domestic season had been halted until this weekend.

With only two matches played so far the only team with a 100% record is Kashiwa Reysol who followed up their opening day win over Shimuzu S-Pulse with victory over Omiya Ardija on Saturday with Brazilian striker Barbosa getting the only goal of the game in the 55th minute. Champions Nagoya Grampus Eight have struggled early on with just one point from their opening two games. They were defeated 3-0 away at Urawa Red Diamonds on Sunday and means that only newly promoted Avispa Fukuoka have a worse record. Having finished third in Division 2 last seaso, Avispa have lost their opening two matches to Albirex Niigata and Shimuzu S-Pulse.

Amongst the traditional heavyweights of the league Kashima Antlers, who won three consecutive titles from 2008-10, have also struggled to get going suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Yokohama Marinos on Saturday. Gamba Osaka and Kawasaki Frontale have had mixed results so far with both winning one and losing one of their games. Both teams, who won their opening fixtures, suffered defeat on matchday 2 with Osaka going down 4-1 at the hands of Sanfreece Hiroshima whilst Kawasaki lost out 2-1 at home to Vegalta Sendai.

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Japan: Nagoya claim maiden J-League crown

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on November 20, 2010
Keiji Tamada

Keiji Tamada scored the goal which sealed the J-League title for Nagoya

Nagoya Grampus Eight have finally landed their first ever J-League title following their 1-0 away win at Shonan Bellmare today. Second place Kashima Antlers, champions for the last three years, were finally deposed having only managed a goalless draw at Vissel Kobe which means that they are ten points behind Nagoya with three matches remaining and, therefore, can not catch the league leaders.

Keiji Tamada was on hand to give Nagoya the only goal of a difficult away tie against Shonan Bellmare when converting an opportunity in the 66th minute of the match and gift his side all three points in what was a testing occasion for the league leaders. After the match they didn’t have to wait long to find out that their nearest rivals for the championship had dropped two crucial points and the celebrations could finally begin for Nagoya who have looked and played like champions in the second half of the season.

At the halfway stage of the competition Nagoya Grampus Eight were just a solitary point behind Shimuzu S-Pulse with a record of eleven wins, two draws and four defeats in the first seventeen matches. Since the latter half of the championship began Nagoya have won ten of their last fourteen games and that record has been coupled with title rivals such as Shimuzu, Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers dropping points at crucial times. Nagoya were also blessed with having two of the J-League’s top marksman in Australian international Joshua Kennedy, who has hit the back of the net an impressive sixteen times, and Temada whose eleventh league goal of the season proved arguably his most important as it sealed the championship title.

Nagoya Grampus Eight have qualified for the 2011 AFC Champions League and still have the chance to do a league and cup double as they play against Kashima Antlers in the quarter-finals of the Emperor’s Cup, the Japanese equivalent of the FA Cup, in late December.

Asia: Season begins in Saudi Arabia; Leagues round-up

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 16, 2010
T&T Ha noi

T&T Ha noi are the new champions of Vietnam

The new Saudi football season began and a new champion was crowned in Vietnam this weekend. In the meantime each of the three big Asian leagues in China, Japan and South Korea are now past the halfway point of their domestic championship seasons. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments from Asia.

The new 2010-11 season began in Saudi Arabia this weekend with everybody hoping to catch Al Hilal who won the league at a canter last season sealing the title by eleven points from nearest challengers Al Ittihad. Champions Al Hilal began their campaign of Sunday with a slender 1-0 win against newly promoted Al Taawon with Abdullatif Al Ghannam getting on the scoresheet. On Saturday night Al Ittihad were amongst the eight teams kicking off the new season and began with a 2-1 home win against Al Ittifaq who just survived a relegation battle last season and could find themselves involved at the bottom again this time. There were also wins for Al Quadisiya, Al Raed, Al Nasr and Al Ahli whilst the final game of the weekend saw a thrilling 3-3 draw between Al Wehda and Al Faysali.

T&T Hanoi are the new Vietnamese champions after securing the point they needed from their Matchday 25 game against already relegated Saigon. With two rounds of matches remaining T&T knew that one point from six would be enough to give them the championship and for coach Phan Thanh Hung, who took over from previous coach Nguyen Huu Thang at the start of the season, it was a fantastic way to end his first season at the helm and, as a result of the title success, T&T will get the chance to participate in the 2011 AFC Champions League qualifiers.

In China’s Super League Shandong Luneng remain in pole position (played 17, points 35) following a 2-1 win away at Chongqing Lifan with Deng Zhuoxiang and Julio César de León getting on the scoresheet to help the league leaders come from behind after Johnny Woodly Lambert had given the home side the lead. Shanghai Shenhua dropped two precious points in the title race and could only manage a 1-1 draw at Hangzhou Lucheng. After Duvier Riascos had given Shanghai the lead early in the second half Australian Adam Griffiths restored parity for the home side who drop from third to fourth place on the back of this result. Taking their place in third are Beijing Guo’an, the defending champions lie six points behind the league leaders after another Aussie international Ryan Griffiths, the aforementioned Adam’s brother, scored both goals in their 2-1 home win against Changchun Yatai.

Japan’s J-League remains very tight at the top with just six points separating the top four teams. League leaders Nagoya Grampus Eight (played 18, points 38) saw off the challenge of Urawa Red Diamonds by three goals to one with Keiji Tamada scoring twice for Dragan Stojković’s men. This win allowed Nagoya to climb above Shimuzu S-Pulse into first place as the latter went down to a 2-1 reverse at home to Yokohama F Marinos. Third place Kashima Antlers were three minutes away from gaining all three points against FC Tokyo but the visitors equalized in the 87th minute to prevent the defending J-League champions from claiming second spot in the table. Two goals in the second half from Yusuke Tasaka and Kengo Nakamura gifted three points to fourth place Kawasaki Frontale in their 2-0 home win against Sanfreece Hiroshima to leave them six points behind the league leaders.

In the South Korean K-League a top of the table clash saw Gyeongnam win a pulsating game against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors by three goals to two. After Gyeongnam had gone three goals to the good just after the hour mark they began to get nervous as the match entered its closing stages and allowed visiting Jeonbuk to pull back two goals in the space of sixty seconds but Gyeongnam managed to hold out and secure three points which takes them clear at the top (played 16, points 34). Jeonbuk are three points further behind along with second place Jeju United, who have the better goal difference, despite losing 4-2 away at Chunnam Dragons. Asian champions Pohang Steelers are still recovering from a dreadful start on the domestic front and won their second consecutive game this weekend away at bottom team Daegu FC by two goals to nil with both strikes coming in stoppage time. The win lifts the Steelers to eleventh in the fifteen team league.

Asia: Too close to call in Big Three nations

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on July 18, 2010
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers remain on top of the J-League after a 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale

Things are getting interesting in the three biggest league championships of Asian football. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog highlights the latest developments in Japan, China and South Korea.

The top of the J-League table shows the top three teams separated by just two points after thirteen games. Champions Kashima Antlers are back on top of the table after a 2-1 win at home to Kawasaki Frontale with Jung Soo-Lee scoring the winning goal for Kashima in the 78th minute. Kawasaki had played with ten men for all of the second half after former Eintracht Frankfurt star Junichi Inamoto was sent off late in the first half and would eventually be made to pay after resisting the Kashima attack for so long. Shimuzu S-Pulse were top of the table before the weekend’s matches but drop into second place after a disappointing goalless draw at home to twelfth place Jubilo Iwata whilst Nagoya Grampus Eight closed the gap thanks to a Joshua Kennedy strike in the 76th minute to gain a slender 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Omiya are second bottom after Shonan Bellmare managed to jump from bottom (18th) place into 16th thanks to a 1-0 win away at Kyoto Sanga who now occupy the bottom spot thanks to that defeat.

In South Korea four points separate the top seven teams in another closely fought championship race. Ulsan Hyundai occupied the top spot before the weekend’s matches began but suddenly found themselves in fifth place after their 1-0 defeat at home to Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Jeju United are now at the top of the table following a 5-0 rout over second bottom club Gangwon FC. Seoul FC stay in third spot despite their 1-0 defeat away at Incheon United while Gyeongnam occupy fourth place after they defeated mid-table outfit Gwangju Sangmu 1-0. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Busan I’Park lie in sixth and seventh respectively having each put four goals past their hapless opponents. Jeonbuk beat lowly Daejeon Citizen 4-0 while Busan ensured that 2009 Asian Champions League winners Pohang Steelers remain in domestic despair following a 4-2 win. The Steelers are just two points and three places clear of bottom team Daegu FC as their K-League form remains in stark contrast to their performances at Asian level.

China’s Super League also sees a neatly bunched selection of clubs at the top of the table with six teams separated by four points. Shanghai Shenhua remain top despite dropping two points at home to fifth place Henan Jianye following a spectacular match which finished 3-3, the away side coming from 2-0 down to take the lead before Shanghai equalized fifteen minutes from time thanks to Duvier Riascos. This allowed Luneng Taishan to close the gap between themselves and Shanghai to just a point after they defeated Nanchang Bayi 1-0 with Zheng Zheng’s 55th minute goal enough to settle the match in Luneng’s favour. Hangzhou Greentown also remained in the running after a 2-0 victory over Shaanxi Chanba while Liaoning jump into fourth place on the back of a 2-1 win over Jiangsu Shuntian. Defending champions Beijing Guo’an missed the opportunity to close the gap and remain in sixth place following a heavy 3-0 defeat away at Dalian Shide

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

J-League and K-League champions signal the old and the new

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 7, 2009
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers have secured their third straight J-League title

Two major championships concluded in Asia this weekend, one championship congratulating a team who have turned winning into an art form on the domestic stage, the other congratulating a club who have finally landed their maiden national title.

Kashima Antlers were crowned champions of Japan this weekend securing a third straight title courtesy of a 1-0 win away at Urawa Red Diamonds. Shinko Koroki’s goal in the 66th minute proved enough as the Antlers finished two points clear of Kawasaki Frontale, whose 3-2 victory away to Kashiwa Reysol ultimately proved fruitless. Kashima cement their place as the most successful club in the J-League era as they have won the J-League championship seven times since its formation in 1993. At the bottom of the table JEF United, Oita Trinita and Kashiwa Reysol were relegated and they’ll be replaced in 2010 by Vegalta Sandai, Cerezo Osaka and Shonan Bellmare.

Things were different in South Korea where the K-League saw Jeonbuk Hyandai Motors lift their first ever league championship trophy. Jeonbuk had already clinched the regular league title finishing four points ahead of FIFA Club World Cup participants Pohang Steelers and FC Seoul. Following the regular season a play-off series was contested, Jeonbuk’s prize for finishing first in the regular table was a bye into the final. Five teams entering at various rounds were hoping to contest Jeonbuk in the final and, after three rounds, it was Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, who had finished fourth in the regular season, who were to be the lucky opponents with a shot at title glory. After the first leg of the final had finished in a goalless draw, Jeonbuk took no prisoners in the second match played at their home stadium in Jeonju. Eninho scored the first goal of the game after 21 minutes to set them on their way. After the Brazilian scored his second just before half-time, former South Korean international Lee Dong-Gook confirmed the match with a 72nd minute penalty for Jeonbuk to seal the deal, Seongnam getting a consolation goal through Kim Jin-Yong in the 84th minute.