Football (Japan) Lost In Translation . . . Relaunched 2012!
Japan Football: Zaccheroni, Samurai Blue, and general J chatter
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Aahh, well you can't start the J1 season without mentioning Jubilo Iwata. Last November, when Masakuni Yamamoto took the reigns, he's been basically repeating this one intention: to bring back the "glory of Jubilo". He is aiming not only to bring that glory at the J level, but also at the international level at Asian Champions League. With characteristic calculation, Yamamoto has been successful in bringing in a slew of high quality players, especially in positions that last year were deemed achille's heels. And what a shopping spree it was!

Long-time NT goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was brought back from Denmark. New Korean striker Choi Yong Soo (from JEF) looks to already be meshing well with fellow forward Gon Nakamura. The defense line has been strengthened with the likes of Takayuki Chano (current NT, from JEF) and Kim Jin-Kyu. For me, the most interesting acquisition would be Shinji Murai on the left side; Murai had shown a tremendous amount of promise last year at JEF, and fans clearly want to see him on the NT. (With six Jubilo players in the NT already, Murai's move here could work for or against him as far as opportunities in the NT go; at least we'll know Zico will be watching the team frequently.) Moreover, Yamamoto may be counting on the three former JEF players to have carried over as a unit of sorts decreasing the time it takes for everyone to get familiar with each other.

High quality players is all very well, but the true test of Yamamoto's powers will be endurance and a look to the long-term haul. Last year, Jubilo found themselves out of breath early on as they fought their way through both the league and ACL games, as well as dealt with 4 missing or fatigued NT players (Fukunishi, Tanaka, Nishi, Fujita). If Jubilo ends up on top at both levels this year, it will be due to a team that intelligently rotates and motivates its players around a very difficult schedule. I've found in the past (ie. with the U23 team) that Yamamoto tries to overcalculate and micromanage to the point of diminishing returns. I hope that he is able to allow some things to happen naturally, as his team consists of a large number of very experienced players.
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