Category Archives: F.C. Tokyo Rumors

Season Opener tomorrow! Umbrellas, lineups, and captains

All you need to know about tomorrow's match vs. Yokohama FM, in bullet point form:

  • Shunsuke Nakamura will not be playing, but apparently TBS will have a fixed camera getting his reaction or so say people on Twitter
  • It's going to rain, so bring an umbrella – particularly red or blue umbrellas if you have one!
  • Expected lineup tomorrow: Gonda; Mukuhara, Morishige, Konno, Nagatomo; Nakamura, Tokunaga, Matsushita, Hanyu; Hirayama, Suzuki
  • Kajiyama and Ishikawa will probably be on the bench but could show up in the second half
  • More Twitter rumors but Tokunaga may be the captain for this season?
  • Omiya tickets on sale tomorrow at 10AM! These are expected to go as fast if not faster than tickets to the Urawa game so buy early!

News Brief: FCT in running for Shunsuke Nakamura, Hirayama to start against Hong Kong?

The big news in Japanese football this morning is that Spanish side Espanola intends to loan Japanese NT star Shunsuke Nakamura (31) to a J.League club, but only until the summer in what could be essentially be a 3-month loan worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Transferred last summer to Espanola from Celtic in a major deal that saw Japan's most visible player in Europe step foot onto the continent, Nakamura has been unable to break through with the team after 6 months of league play in part due to a language barrier, inability to get fit, and various injuries. With the World Cup about five months away, Nakamura's main objective is to get back onto the field and prove his worth to Okada. This is especially true as strong “leader”-type players like Kashima's Ogasasawa have begun making appearances on the NT in Nakamura's absence.

According to Sponichi Annex, should this transfer go through Espanola would likely cancel a planned summer tour of Japan that would have netted nearly half a million Euros ($700,000) in revenue. As a result, the team would likely seek to recover some of that lost revenue in what would be a relatively high transfer fee.

Yokohama F. Marinos (the team Nakamura grew up playing with and what was thought to be his destination after Celtic) is in the lead to acquire the left-footed midfielder, but Kashima, Urawa, Gamba Osaka, and FC Tokyo are also named in the press as potential candidates.

Among fans, the general sentiment seems to be negative, with most criticism focusing on Nakamura's fitness and strength especially compared with Kajiyama (maybe I just have blinders on but I think we could do with less Kajiyama, yet I digress) and others in Tokyo's lineup. Another point on which I tend to agree on is that if Tokyo has the money to blow on a 3-month romp with an aging star arguably passing his prime, that money should instead be spent on a striker.

All involved parties apparently hope that the deal will go through in time for Nakamura to take the field on J.League's Opening Day. Yet given that our first match is against Yokohama, it does appear likely that one way or the other Nakamura will step foot on Ajinomoto Stadium's pitch.

In NT news, Sota Hirayama is likely to start for Japan in tonight's match versus Hong Kong. Japan has played 180 scoreless minutes, with Saturday's game against China ending in a shower of boos for the NT. Calls have been growing for Hirayama to start rather than appear as a mid-game substitution, and with Shimizu's Okazaki likely out of the match with a knee injury it appears that #20 may take the field at 7PM.  Meanwhile, former NT coach Philippe Troussier has criticized Hirayama for “trying too hard to control the game,” claiming that “[Hirayama] would be more effective with a simpler way of attacking.” Troussier, who let the NT from 1998 through the '02 World Cup, further stated that Hirayama “…has potential, but isn't at the top level yet.”


Rumor: Potential 2010 Schedule

I cannot authenticate this because it’s basically a bunch of guys on 2channel pulling matchups out of their ass based on rumors, dates stadiums have been rented out, fanclub news letters, sources from the clubs, that sort of thing I think.

Most of these don’t have a definite date yet but at least you can plan your weekend around away trips. I know for sure I’ll be missing out on at least 2 home games (vs. Kashima and Nagoya) and a Nabisco Cup match (…Nagoya.  Son of a bitch), so there’s that.

The schedules are to be announced on Wednesday so in a few days we’ll see how right a bunch of internet nerds were.

EDIT: 3/27-8 vs. Omiya and 10/30-1 vs. Shimizu are both AWAY.  Sorry for being an idiot.


3/6 Yokohama FM

3/14 @ Urawa

3/20-1 Cerezo Osaka

3/27-8 @Omiya

4/3-4 @ Kawasaki

4/10-1 Kashima

4/17-8 Kyoto

4/24-5 @ Gamba Osaka

5/1 @ Hiroshima

5/5 Sendai

5/8-9 @ Yamagata

5/15-6 Shimizu

(World Cup Break)

7/17-8 Kobe

7/24-5 @ Shonan

7/27-8 Iwata

7/31-8/1 @ Niigata

8/7-8 Nagoya

8/14 @ Kashima

8/17-8 @ Cerezo Osaka

8/21-2 Hiroshima

9/11-2 Urawa

9/18-9 @ Iwata

9/25 Omiya

10/2-3 Shonan

10/16-7 @ Sendai

10/23-4 Niigata

10/30-1 @Shimizu (Halloween Day? Hell yes.)

11/6-7 Gamba Osaka

11/14 @ Yokohama

11/20 Kawasaki

11/23 @ Nagoya

11/27-8 Yamagata

12/4 @ Kyoto


3/31 Nagoya

4/14 @Omiya

5/22 Niigata

5/26 @Sendai

6/5-6 Kyoto

6/9 @Cerezo Osaka

Still alive!

A very late Happy New Year from Aishiteru Tokyo!

I haven’t been able to put as much time as I’d like towards updating the site over the winter break, but I’m still posting odds and ends on Twitter via @aishiterutokyo so if you’re a Twitter user feel free to follow!

It seems like the team officially starts activities on the 24th, which generally means a press conference with the new players (and hopefully a sponsor announcement, and a foreign striker, and ponies and rocket cars for all).

For now, news in brief:

Schedule News

-The team will have training camp in Miyazaki Prefecture this year rather than spending a million dollars going to Guam.

-Preseason Match: 2/27 at home vs. Albirex Niigata. Not quite as exotic as vs. Consadole Sapporo in Okinawa last year but hey.

-Season Opener: 3/6 at home vs. Yokohama F. Marinos. This will be the second time the two squads have met on opening day; the first was 10 years ago as FC Tokyo won its first J1 match 1-0 on a late goal by Tuto.

-Week 2: 3/13 away at Urawa Reds.  Again. Yippee. Given how much tickets go for I should just buy up as many as I can and make a profit.

Player Transfers

In: Morishige, Matsushita, and a bunch of kids from the youth squad

Out: Asari (retired), Fujiyama (to Consadole Sapporo), Kondo (to Consadole Sapporo), Bruno (unknown), Sahara (will return to Kawasaki Frontale), Moniwa (to Cerezo Osaka)

Rumors: A few still festering but nothing’s gained any traction beyond a day or two. As of right now the squad only has three experienced forwards (Akamine, Hirayama, and Suzuki) on the roster, plus I think one or two of the youth members.

NT News

-Hirayama is the new hero of Samurai Blue after scoring a hat trick to help a team of fresh faces come from behind in Yemen earlier this month.  He, along with Ishikawa, Tokunaga, Nagatomo, and Konno will be on the squad for Japan’s match against Venezuela on 2/2.

-Depending on call-ups, these 5 players may be with the NT up through March 3rd, giving Jofuku difficult circumstances under which to plan his lineup.

Wrapping up…

As the season winds down to a close, we have stuff to look forward to (or not?) next season…

First, last week’s game against Vissel Kobe.  We won, 1-0.  Hiramatsu scored a fantastic header off of a Suzuki free kick in the 87th minute.  If that was all you saw of the game, congrats: you saw the relevant bit.

Due to several fortunate results, Tokyo is now in sole possession of 5th place heading into the last game of the season vs. Albirex Niigata.  A win, plus a Hiroshima draw or loss, would put Tokyo in 4th place.  Not only would there be a decent bump to the end-of-season prize we would get from being in the top 8 (5th place receives 40 million yen while 4th gets 60 mil.), but we would have a Chance In Hell of going to the ACL next season.

I’m going to repeat that.  Despite everything the team has been through we could still conceivably play in Asia.  IF we get 4th place, and IF Kashima, Kawasaki, or Osaka wins the Emperor’s Cup.  So, to start with, go Kyoto!

The Kobe match was also a day for farewells of various sorts.  For starters, it was the final home game of “The Last Legends of Tokyo Gas” – Satoru Asari (7) and Ryuji Fujiyama (8).  With a combined 31 years of service for FC Tokyo and Tokyo Gas, the two players were often immortalized in gateflags simply as 社員.  They were celebrated in a pre-game tifo:

Following the game the two players made tearful speeches to the home supporters.  While Asari is officially retiring and may continue on with the team as a coach, Fujiyama had previously expressed his desire to continue playing “until my body falls apart” and, in a stunning announcement in front of the home crowd, announced that he will be playing for J2 side Consadole Sapporo next season.

After the speeches, the two players made their way around the pitch:

Unfortunately, it appears that the game was also the last stand at Ajinomoto for Bruno Quadros, who will not be resigning with the squad.  I’m also seeing rumors that Hideki Sahara will be returning to Kawasaki Frontale.

In even less attractive news, I give you our 2010 uniforms:

The home kits are ugly as sin and I refuse to purchase one… what were they thinking with the ‘bib’ design? To be completely honest the photo of Nagatomo makes it look worse than it actually does due to the immense number of flashes going off at once.  That said it’s still a mediocre design and adidas should be ashamed.

I could grow to like the away kit, though.

In other bulletpoint-worthy news…

-We’re after a bunch of players, and none of it’s worth reporting on until we actually sign someone.

-The team has withdrawn from its annual Guam Camp due to the costs involved (roughly $1 million) and will instead train in Miyazaki Prefecture this winter.

-World Cup draws announced! Japan in the pot with Holland, Denmark, and Cameroon.  I say we have a fair shot.

Now, to get another hour or so of sleep before I go to El Loco for the match…

Rumor: Celtic FC shows interest in Nagatomo

Came across a tweet that lead me to a Sponichi Annex article that I was expecting to have to translate, then I found out that it quoted an article in the Scotland Evening Times that indicates that Celtic FC is possibly considering taking a shot at Nagatomo.  Here's the juicy bit from an article headlined “First NAKA, now NAGA”:

CELTIC have been linked with another Japanese player – and he comes with a recommendation from Shunsuke Nakamura.

Yuto Nagatomo is currently making a big name for himself as a defender with FC Tokyo.

But it has been his performances while playing alongside Naka with the Japanese national team headed to next summer's World Cup finals which are predicted to make him the next J-league player to move west.

Nakamura has been so impressed with the rising star, who just turned 23 at the weekend, he is telling anyone who might be in the market for a young defender that they would have no regrets if they took a punt on Nagatomo.
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Reports in Japan claim Celtic are already looking closely at him, though no formal approach to his club has been made to date.

The article claims that FC Tokyo values Nagatomo at about 2 million pounds (roughly $3.3 million US), which in the face of Cabore's $5 million sale to Qatar would seem to be a gruesomely low amount until one considers that the soccer sheiks tend to overpay for Brazillian strikers when they have their hearts set on it.  Still, Nagatomo's gotta be worth more than Cabore and his value could only increase with a good showing in next year's World Cup.

The question, of course, is whether or not an NT player would be wise to make such a move in a World Cup year.  Nagatomo certainly has the skills to play well in Europe, but how would the team fare next season without its treasured sideback?


Cabore's Last Stand? Transfer rumors surface again

Chunichi Sports revealed today that, according to several unnamed club officials, FC Tokyo is in talks with an unnamed Middle Eastern team regarding the transfer of Brazillian striker Cabore that would include a 500 million yen (nearly $5.4 million) fee for breaking his contract.  Rumors of Cabore being transferred were raised earlier this year but nothing materialized.  Since then, the team has revealed that it will have to seek a new shirt sponsor for the 2010 season as ENEOS is withdrawing its sponsorship.  This infusion of cash would at the very least alleviate any financial problems the team may be facing, and at most could provide an extra boost in the off-season acquisition period assuming Tokyo finds a new sponsor.

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Because the start of league play in the Middle East is rapidly approaching, a deal could be made within the week and according to the article some have noted that there is a possibility Sunday's match against Shimizu could be Cabore's last game wearing the blue and red kit.

Tokyo would be the latest of many teams to be entranced by so-called “oil money”; following in the footsteps of Gamba Osaka (which recently sold Leandro for a cool billion yen) and Nagoya (who sold Davi to some club in Qatar earlier this summer).

More to follow, I'm sure.


Crisis in Tokyo 2: Transfers and Uncertainty

I haven't had time to write up proper reports for the last couple matches; anyone who's followed on J's Goal probably knows what's happened.  For those who don't, here are the last three scores:

8/16 FC Tokyo 0 – 0 Yokohama FM

8/19 Montedio Yamagata 1 – 0 FC Tokyo

8/23 Kashima Antlers 3 – 1 FC Tokyo

No, I'm not even going to bother explaining these scores yet.  It's been a trying summer, to say the least, but given that most of J.League seems to be suffering we are, inexplicably, still not out of the ACL race.  Plus there's the upcoming Nabisco Cup Semifinal next week.  Hopefully Oita will provide us with an opponent we can beat up, but a lot of that is certain to ride on whether or not Ishikawa makes it back to the lineup.

In other news, Tokyo is making some late-season player moves:

Veteran Jo Kanazawa is heading to Jubilo Iwata with a complete transfer.  Jo has only appeared as a substitute in a few games this season and started once or twice.  Kanazawa started his J.League career with Jubilo where he was a part of their 'dynasty' period from 1999 through 2002.

Rookie Kazunori Yoshimoto is off to FC Gifu on a 6-month loan.  He's appeared a couple times for Tokyo over the last 3 years but hopefully this loan will give him a chance to get more playing time and improve his skills.

In news that could have an impact into next season, longtime shirt sponsor ENOS has decided to withdraw sponsorship after this season ends.  ENOS, which has long been considered the 'face of Tokyo' since it took over the front sponsorship from the AM/PM chain of convenience stores, paid 300,000,000 yen (roughly $3 million) for the privilege.


Player News: Akamine Stays, Cabore gets offer, Ishikawa goes for 6

Some player notes as we get ready for tomorrow night's match against Nagoya:

-Shingo Akamine has decided to reject Jubilo's offer for a transfer and stay with Tokyo, prompting an enthusiastic response from fans and teammates alike at Monday's practice. Akamine, the team's leading scorer last season as well as one of the top Japanese scorers, has joined in most of the games this season as a late-game substitute due to Hirayama's emergence as a starter.

-In this morning's editions of Sponichi it was reported that the team has recieved offers from clubs in Saudi Arabia and UAE for striker Cabore. The team is said to be fending these offers off by establishing steep penalities for breaking a contract mid-season, but some fear that Middle East club teams can reach deep into their pockets and pull out all the oil money they need to complete any deal. This season has already seen Middle Eastern clubs pillage J.League, with former Kobe manager Caio Junior and Nagoya striker Davi already heading to the region.

-While most of the press on Monday night had their cameras trained on Naohiro Ishikawa, a few cameras stayed pointed at the press box where NT coach Takeshi Okada was watching the game. Okada gave no indication of his reaction to the score, however, and following the game he merely commented that Ishikawa “look good” and that he wasn't going to make any rash decisions in terms of selecting members.
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With Sunday's goal, Ishikawa has scored in 5 games in a row and has tied club legend Amaral (who, incidentally, has come out of retirement to play with JFL side FC Kariya) for the team record. He can claim his own place in the record books if he scores tomorrow night.


Several South American players line up for auditions w/ FCT

Now that most of the domestic leagues across the world have wrapped up for the season, many J.League teams are taking advantage of expiring contracts to snap up foreign players who might provide a needed advantage.

FC Tokyo, which has gone nearly half a season without filling the 3rd “foreign player” spot in its roster, has invited several players to participate in team practices and may be close to signing one.

-Brazillian Rafael Bastos, believed to be playing for Vitoria in Brazil, has spent the last couople weeks with the team and participated in practice matches, but as of last Friday team officials had said they were “postponing judgement” as they did not feel that Rafael had been able to properly display his abilities.

-Argentinian Carlos Escudero, 19, has just finished a 2-year contract with Argentinian side Club Athletico Huracan and came to Japan after talking with cousin Sergio Escudero, a forward with Urawa.  According to Carlos, “I've heard that while Japanese players have speed and ability, the number of players who can dribble effectively and move the ball up the field are relatively small.  I'd like to see that sort of play.

-Brazillian David dos Santos, of the Brazillian club Juventus (which as far as I can tell is something like 5th or 6th division if that), will also be participating in team practices.

Escudero and dos Santos are supposed to have participated in a practice match this morning; however it's raining quite heavily in Kanto at the moment so unless they've got an indoor stadium I'm not sure what's going to happen.  If Escudero wants to demonstrate his ball control, a wet pitch may be the best place to do it.