Long time since my last post now, but the holidays and an extra amount of work means I've had little time to update lately. I'm committed to a norwegian soccer-site as well ( www.norskefans.com), which naturally takes up alot of my time.
Anyway, alot has happened at Cerezo since the 2008 season came to an end.
To take the good news first: Our wonderkid Shinji Kagawa has decided to stay put in Osaka, despite several J1-clubs pursuing him. He wants to help Cerezo win promotion, which in my opinion shows what great character Kagawa has. A bit like Hisato Sato at Sanfrecce, who got alot of praise for his commitment to Sanfrecce when he decided to go down with them last year. And Del Piero at Juve etc.. Kagawa was instrumental and our best by player by far last season, and there are probably even greater things to expect from him in 2009 as he's got one more year at his back.
Takashi Inui has completed his transfer from Yokohama F Marinos to Cerezo, after spending the latter half of 2008 on loan at us. Inui was a constant hit at us, and formed a deadly partnership along with Kagawa and Kaio. Inui, who were a fringe player at Marinos, were even rewarded with a NT-call up for the upcoming friendly match, which means Cerezo got 2 players on the National Team ( Kagawa is the other one). One has to wonder what the Marinos-staff were thinking with not seeing his potential.
A former great returns to Nagai, as Akinori Nishizawa's contract with Shimizu S-Pulse have ended. The burly striker have had 3 former stints with Cerezo, scoring 84 goals in 262 matches.
His best period he had in the late 90's, before moving to Europe and RCd Espanyol. Nishizawa were never a hit in Spain though, and likewise flopped in Bolton without even playing a match before returning to Japan and Cerezo prior to the World cup 2002. Nishizawa were a member of Japan's NT during the WC, but unlike his compatriot at Cerezo, Hiroaki Morishima, Nishizawa failed to get on the scoresheet. Nishizawa has landed 29 matches for Japan, scoring 10 goals in total. Already 32, Nishizawa is no longer a youth, but his experience could help the young strikers Kakitani and Shiratani to develop into better strikers. But with Furuhashi,Komatsu,Shiratani,Kakitani and most likely Kaio as well there is fierce competition among the strikers, so Nishizawa is by no means guaranteed a place in the squad despite his former achievements.
A couple of brazilians have been brought in as well, the 28 year old midfielder Martinez from Palmeiras and DF Thiago from Cruzeiro. Thiago has spent most of his career at Sao Caetano, and will be a nice addition to Cerezo's defence.Martinez has played for several brazilian clubs, and will be a direct replacement for Germano, who recently left for Santos FC. Germano's demise was hard to accept for several of the Cerezo-fans, as he was one of the most popular players last season. Truly a quality-player, we can only wish Germano good luck with his new club in Brazil.
Takuya Kokeguchi has returned from a rather unsuccessful yearly loan-stint at J1-club JEF United. Never a regular at Cerezo either, it's hard to imagine Kokeguchi making much of an impact with so many other quality players at the squad this season. His preferred role is a winger, but with Kagawa,Sakemoto,Inui,Furuhashi and Kakitani as his rivals Kokeguchi has a hard task ahead of himself. Personally I rate Kokeguchi though, and I hope one way or another he can have success.
Kenji Haneda, who were on loan from Kashima Antlers, have completed his move and is now a permanent member of Cerezo. Great news, as Haneda was one of few defenders that delivered last season. Full-back Takashi Hirajima, who were on loan from Kyoto Sanga, have done likewise. DF Naoya Ishigami have been brought in from Kashima Antlers on a yearly loan. The young defender played 14 matches for Antlers during 2007 and 2008, and hopefully he can be a success at Cerezo this season. Masayuki Yanagisawa have transferred to Sagan Tosu. The versatile full-back were a steady performer for Cerezo, and will be missed. Good luck to him at Sagan.
Our 2 preferred goalkeepers last season have left the club, as Takashi Aizawa have returned to Kawasaki Frontale after a rather poor stint at Cerezo. He soon lost his place to Hiromasa Yamamoto, who now have been transferred to Ehime FC. Daisuke Tada has gone the other way, as he returns to Cerezo after a 1-year stint with the Shikoku-club. His main rival will be Kim Jin-Hyeon, who have been drafted from Dongguk University in South-Korea. That means at the moment, we're without any proven goalkeepers. Considering our poor defensive record last season that might be a cause for concern, but Tada impressed at times with Ehime so he's not completely lost.
Korean striker Kim Shin-Young have made a permanent move to J2-rivals Ventforet Kofu. On loan to Sagan last season, Kim wasn't a part of Cerezo's future plans anyway. Kim scored only 1 goal for Cerezo in a total of 8 appearances. MF Ryuhei Niwa has ended his loan-spell at Cerezo, and returned to Vissel Kobe. FW Noboru Nakayama have surprisingly hung up his boots. Only 21, the talented striker had to retire due to a serious injury. He is now a coach for Cerezo's youth academy.
As mentioned in an earlier article, Hiroaki Morishima have also retired. Dubbed Mr. Cerezo, Morishi has been with the club for his entire career, and is one of the all-time greats in japanese football. What Morishima will do next has not yet been announced, but one way or another he will probably still be very much involved with what will be happening around Cerezo Osaka in the future as well.
GK Daisuke Tada (On loan from Ehime F.C.)
GK Kim Jin-Hyeon (Drafted from Dongguk University)
DF Kenji Haneda (Transferred from Kashima Antlers)
DF Takashi Hirajima (Transferred from Kyoto Sanga F.C.)
DF Naoya Ishigami (On loan from Kashima Antlers)
MF Takashi Inui (Transferred from Yokohama F. Marinos)
DF Thiago (Transferred fromn Cruzeiro Esporte Clube)
MF Martinez (Transferred from Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras)
FW Akinori Nishizawa (Transferred from Shimizu S-Pulse)
FW Takuya Kokeguchi (Returned from JEF United Ichihara Chiba)
GK Takashi Aizawa (End of loan from Kawasaki Frontale)
MF Hiroaki Morishima (Retired)
MF Germano (Transferred to Santos Futebol Clube)
DF Masayuki Yanagisawa (Transferred to Sagan Tosu)
MF Ryuhei Niwa (End of loan from Vissel Kobe)
GK Hiromasa Yamamoto (Transferred to Ehime F.C.)
FW Noboru Nakayama (Retired)
FW Kim Sin-Young (Transferred to Ventforet Kofu)