Friday, March 6, 2009

J2 2009 preview: Shonan Bellmare

Stadium: Hiratsuka Athletics Stadium (18,500)
Average attendance 2008: 5,994
Last season's finish: 5th

2009 season's transfers:
GK Yosuke Nozawa (Transferred from Albirex Niigata)
DF Akihiro Sakata (On loan from Cerezo Osaka)
DF Taisuke Muramatsu (Transferred from Honda F.C.)
DF Keisuke Takigawa (Drafted from Nihon University)
DF Kento Fukuda (Drafted from Joso Identy Youth)
MF Yoshito Terakawa (Teransferred from Albirex Niigata)
MF Yuki Igari (Returned from Sagawa Printing S.C.)
MF Yohei Maeda (Transferred from Shimizu S-Pulse youth team)
FW Jung Jung-Hyun (Drafted from Konkuk University)
FW Kohei Yamamoto (Drafted from Hosei University)

2 DF Toshihide Saito (End of loan from Shimizu S-Pulse)
4 DF Hikaru Mita (Transferred to Tokushima Vortis)
9 FW Naoya Umeda (Transferred to Gainare Tottori)
11 FW Naoki Ishihara (Transferred to Omiya Ardija)
14 MF Genki Nagasato (Transferred to Tokyo Verdy)
15 MF Yoshio Kitajima (Released)
17 MF Shunsuke Oyama (End of loan from Urawa Red Diamonds)
24 MF Nozomu Kato (Retired)
27 GK Yohei Hamasaki (Transferred to Sagawa Printing S.C.)
29 MF Satoru Hayashi (On loan to Gainare Tottori)
31 DF Yosuke Kawamata (Released)

My view on the transfers:
Shonan haven't made any real improvements on their team since last season, with only a couple of veterans from Albirex being brought in. GK Nozawa will probably receive some playing time, and might be getting the starting spot, while MF Terakawa, who's already 33, will most likely be used on a more frequent basis. They've lost quite a few players, with the biggest loss being FW Ishihara, who's moved to Omiya in J1. Two or three other players that received a fair amount of playing time last season have left as well.

Preferrable starting line-up:
4-4-2: Kim / Nozawa - Tamura, Jean, Yamaguchi / Suzuki, Usui - Sakamoto, Adiel, Nagata, Terakawa / Kikuchi - Tuto, Hara / Abe

My view on the team:
Alot of their players have turned 30 already, and Shonan aren't exactly a youthfilled and energetic team anymore. They still look to have a solid starting 11 though, but with many of the backup players last season gone, their squad looks thinner.The loss of Ishihara up front will be big, but Tuto, who scored 5 goals in 7 matches last season will do his best to fill his shoes. They got one of the best players in J2 in Adiel, who pull the strings in midfield.

Player to watch: Tuto

Manager: Yasuharu Sorimachi
Sorimachi were in charge of Japan U23 and their Olympic Team from 2006 to 2008, and although he never won any major trophies with them he made them into a solid team that played attractive football. Not the type who take uncalculated risks though, and often chooses the safe option over the risky one. That have on several occasions in the past proved to be the wrong choice, but nevertheless Sorimachi is a coach that knows his game. His experience with young players might result into some of Shonan's rookies getting some chances with the first-team.

Despite having been a solid J2 side for years now, Shonan still continues to draw a modest crowd. An average of just below 6,000 a game isn't good enough for a perennial promotion-chaser, especially considering Shonan ( or Bellmare Hiratsuka as they were called earlier) were a good J1 team back in the 90's. In other words not the most intimidating supporters around.

Where they will finish:
Shonan will be hoping for another shot at promotion this year, which might turn out to be a tougher task than they want. The team doesn't look any stronger than last year, and in Ishihara they lost a match-winner. However, the chance is there, and with only Vegalta and Cerezo to be considered as real favorites for a promotion-finish Shonan could with a little bit of luck finish 3rd.


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