Let's start it off with a big congratlations to Verdy Youth, who claimed first place in a tough Group A over JEF United Chiba and Consadole Sapporo. With the win, Verdy youth lock up a spot in the next round.
Verdy fought against a game Shizuoka FC in a training match at lovely Verdy grounds with the green machine claiming a 5-1 victory
In a glimpse of what the nappy one is thinking, Verdy went with a combination of Silva and Diego up top with Hiroyama, Sugawara, Ono, and Inoue filling in the midfield. Silva started the scoring and then Inoue, Diego, Funakoshi, and Iio chipped in some more. Silva's not a bad selection up top and his speed might cause some issues for Ehime.
Around J2.........I put this part in Pink because I mention Cerezo Osaka getting stunned with a 2-2 draw at Thespa. Now Thespa is turning out to be a pain in the hind section to all the big boys of J2. The tie was rough for Cerezo because not only do they go into their next match against Mito missing 4 starters, the room for error is now officially nil.
Consadole came back from a 1 goal deficit to steal a draw from Kyoto and become the first team to qualify for the top three. A combination of a tie or a Kyoto loss or tie guarantees straight promotion for the northernmost J League squad. Good news for Verdy fans is that it opens the door for Verdy to steal the J2 championship away from Consadole and claim it for themselves. A win next week also pretty much guarantees straight promotion for the Tokyo squad.
Shonan kept their promotion hopes alive barely with a 3-2 win at Vegalta. Last week it looked like Vegalta was in the drivers seat with a 1-0 lead early against Verdy, but now find themselves in 4th with the loss. How come it seems like Vegalta always finishes 4th?
Finally, one guy I'd like to see get a contract in the J League is Watford MF Al Bangura. Bangura is a 19 year old Sierra Leone refugee who is in danger of being sent back to his country for no apparent reason http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/16112007/58/championship-watford-youngster-deported.html Bangura's story is the stuff that movies are made of. His father was a part of a secret society that demanded offspring join after the death of a member. Rejecting the tradition, Bangura fell into the hands of a less than savory character in France, who wanted to turn the young midfielder into a homosexual prostitute. Bangura refused, applied to England for asylum and was found by Watford officials playing soccer in a park. Two years later, Bangura is a regular for the squad and by all accounts a solid member of his community. Going back to Sierra Leone could be a death sentence. Now, if I were an enterprising team in......say.......Saitama who wears orange and was looking for young premiership type talent and great pr, I would be on the phone with Watford today saying loan us the kid for a year while you sort this out. I will be checking up on the Bangura story. More of the Bangura story is here (which I pretty much copied above) BBC news http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/africa/4880822.stm