Sunday, September 6, 2009

Kawasaki Frontale makes the final of the Nabisco Cup!

Today was the 2nd leg of the semifinals of the J League's Cup competition, known as the Nabisco Cup. My favorite team, Kawasaki Frontale, was visiting the Yokohama F. Marinos after winning the first leg 2-0. With a 1-1 draw today, Frontale secured a place in the one-game final on November 3rd, to be held in the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Their opponent will be F.C. Tokyo, who advanced with a 1-0 victory over Shimizu S-Pulse after a 2-2 draw in the first match. As both teams are located in the Kanto area, there should be large contingents of supporters to make this a very exciting and loud affair. I'll be looking to go, assuming that my visa situation has been resolved by then.

What's interesting is that 4 days later, the AFC Champions League final will be played in the same stadium. It's possible that Frontale will play in that match as well, though they've got two rounds to get through first. Either way, I'll be attending that game too, so it looks like the first week of November will be filled with soccer championships.

Emperors Cup

Believe it or not, there's yet another cup competition in Japan, known as the Emperor's Cup. This is like England's F.A. Cup is that all teams that are members of the Japan Football Association may participate, including local high school and college teams. Each of the 47 prefectures sends one amateur club (usually a university club, but sometimes a high school or industrial team), and the national collegiate champion also participates in the first round. The 24 winners are then joined by 36 J1 and J2 clubs along with the top 4 teams from the JFL, which is the 3rd rung on the Japanese football ladder. These 64 clubs then play a single elimination tournament that concludes on New Year's Day in what is considered the final game of the Japanese soccer season. It should be noted that in round 2, the amateur teams are not drawn against each other.

This year's tournament begins on September 19th and there are plenty of games to be played between then and January 1st. I'll be looking to attend one or two as time permits as it might be interesting to see an amateur team take on a J League stalwart. As the baseball season comes to an end, it'll be soccer that takes me through to next year. As always, stay tuned for updates.



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