Verdy youth took on the young men of Estrella Himeji FC at Verdy ground and emerged victorious 2-1 after young defender Takahashi scored in the 64th minute. Verdy moves on to face the illustrious Kashiwa youth, who won 2-1.
Other teams advancing include Gamba Osaka, who are on their way to getting in the finals in Osaka. they will take on Sanfrecce, who advanced on the road against Nagoya. Oita meets up with Verdy rivals FC Tokyo, while the final matchup will see Omiya face a monster in the making in Cerezo, who knocked FC Miyagi Barcelona around 7-2.
Personally, I think the youth leagues are a good indicator of what teams will be strong in the future. Teams like Gamba, Yokohama, and Urawa have been built on the backs of their strong youth programs. Sanfrecce has consistently brought up good young talent from their youth team, and Kashiwa, FC Tokyo, and Verdy have alumni scattered around the J league. I'm very happy to see Omiya do well in these competitions, getting to the quarterfinals two years in a row.
Satellites end with a loss
If you thought the season was over.........well you are right now, but yesterday saw the last of semi-official games for the first team as a squad made up of new man Masaaki Iida and soon to be unemployed members Shinya Muro, Taisei Fujita, and Martin Saito ventured down to Jubilo Iwata and got beat 3-1. Satellite superstar Kaz Iio notched the only goal for Verdy, managing to be the last goal scorer in J2 and the satellites for team green. SPOOOKY!
The Curious tale of Sato Hisato
Our good friend Gora at the Kyoto blog put up a link to highlights of the relegation battle at Sanfrecce. Now, the one player that a few of us Omiya fans want is local boy and NT striker Hisato Sato, but after the game, the events that transpired have me torn...
Sato told the fans after the game that he wants to go back to J1 with them together. Now speculation abounds that the squad is gonna be cannibalized and my unrealistic dream was that Sato would come to Omiya, a mere minutes away from his hometown of Kasukabe. I gotta admit, I'm a sucker for guys who take responsibility and stay loyal to their squads even when they drop. Going to J2 in all likelihood dooms his chances for National Team duty during the highly important qualifying campaign, so we are talking about a guy who has a lot to lose. However, I think there is something noble about a guy who sticks with his squad through dark times instea of bolting for greener (i.e. money and championships) pastures in Urawa or Osaka.
One thing that makes me believe that he is serious about staying is the fact that he did it once before when Vegalta Sendai got dropped in 2003. Sato managed to knock in 9 goals in that campaign and clearly was the best player during that campaign.
Hisato Sato, if you stay in Hiroshima, you have my respect and the respect of many others who love this game.
If you come to Omiya though, I'll buy you lunch at Wendys............and not just the 100 yen menu either.......anything you want, big fella!