Wednesday, 18 July 2018

J League History: 2000

The 2000 J.League season was a wonderful success, which dispelled the gloom and concern that had hung over the league since 1998. Although attendance figures did not recover to the levels seen in the mid-1990s, they did begin to climb, especially at the top clubs. Both the first and second stages were closely contested, and best of all for the league, the teams with solid fan support and healthy programs were in the championship race right to the end in at least one of the two stages.

The popularity of the J.League was also helped by the success of Japan's national team. The Under-23 squad performed well at the Olympics, missing out on the medal round only due to a PK loss to the United States. Then, in October, Japan rumbled to victory in the Asian Cup with a performance that announced the country's presence as a football nation. Under national team coach Phillippe Trousseir the team -- drawing mainly on a core of young players in their early twenties, overpowered even the strongest Asian opponents. The stars of these National Team victories helped to attract a steady stream of new fans to J.League matches.

J.League 2000, First Stage

Rank Team Pts GP Win D L GF GA G.Dif
90 ET
1 Yokohama Marinos 30 15 10 0 0 5 32 21 11
2 Cerezo Osaka 29 15 9 1 0 5 34 25 9
3 Shimizu S-Pulse 28 15 8 2 0 5 21 17 4
4 Kashiwa Reysol 26 15 6 4 0 5 25 22 3
5 Jubilo Iwata 25 15 7 2 0 6 32 25 7
6 FC Tokyo 23 15 7 1 0 7 24 22 2
7 Vissel Kobe 22 15 7 0 1 7 21 17 4
8 Kashima Antlers 22 15 6 2 0 7 20 17 3
9 Verdy Kawasaki 20 15 5 2 1 7 26 23 3
10 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 19 15 4 3 1 7 17 15 2
11 JEF United Ichihara 19 15 6 0 1 8 22 22 0
12 Nagoya Grampus 19 15 4 3 1 7 17 18 -1
13 Gamba Osaka 17 15 5 0 2 8 20 23 -3
14 Avispa Fukuoka 15 15 3 3 0 9 19 28 -9
15 Kawasaki Frontale 10 15 2 1 2 10 14 29 -15
16 Kyoto Purple Sanga 7 15 2 0 1 12 16 36 -20
Scoring: Win in regulation time=3pts Win in extra time=2pts Draw=1pt Loss =0

 

J.League 2000, Second Stage

Rank Team Pts GP Win D L GF GA G.Dif
90 ET
1 Kashima Antlers 33 15 9 1 4 1 28 10 18
2 Kashiwa Reysol 32 15 9 2 1 3 23 10 13
3 Jubilo Iwata 30 15 10 0 0 5 35 17 18
4 Gamba Osaka 28 15 8 2 0 5 27 20 7
5 Yokohama Marinos 24 15 7 1 1 6 24 24 0
6 Avispa Fukuoka 22 15 6 1 2 6 22 20 2
7 Nagoya Grampus 22 15 7 0 1 7 25 27 -2
8 FC Tokyo 20 15 5 2 1 7 23 19 4
9 Cerezo Osaka 19 15 5 2 0 8 20 24 -4
10 Verdy Kawasaki 18 15 5 0 3 7 20 21 -1
11 Sanfrecce Hiroshima 18 15 5 1 1 8 23 25 -2
12 Kyoto Purple Sanga 18 15 5 1 1 8 23 30 -7
13 Shimizu S-Pulse 14 15 2 3 2 8 13 19 -6
14 Vissel Kobe 11 15 3 1 0 11 19 32 -13
15 Kawasaki Frontale 11 15 1 3 2 9 12 27 -15
16 JEF United Ichihara 9 15 2 1 1 11 15 27 -12
Scoring: Win in regulation time=3pts Win in extra time=2pts Draw=1pt Loss =0

 

Championship Series

3 Dec Yokohama Marinos 0 - 0 Kashima Antlers
     
10 Dec Kashima Antlers 3 - 0 Yokohama Marinos

Takayuki Suzuki
Akira Narahashi
Koji Nakata

   

In the first stage, the Yokohama Marinos edged out Cerezo Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse, thanks to the emergence of Shunsuke Nakamura as a key playmaker for both the Marinos and for the national team. In Osaka, Cerezo midfield general Hiroaki Morishima also had a fine year both for his team and as a key member of Japan's Asia Cup championship team.

 

However, in the second half of the year a resurgent Kashima Antlers team snatched victory from Kashiwa Reysol in the final match of the season -- a head to head contest that ended in a scoreless draw to allow Antlers to sneak through. The Antlers rode to victory on the backs of several young stars from the Japan Olympic team, such as Masashi Motoyama, Mitsuo Ogasawara, Koji Nakata and Tomoyuki Hirase. The emergence of these core players suggested that the Antlers were ready to become a dominant force in the league for years to come.

 

In the two legs of the Championship Series, the Antlers put their stamp on one of their most successful seasons ever. Although Yokohama was probably the most worthy opponent in the league, the Antlers had reached their peak by the end of the season, while Yokohama peaked early. The Antlers defence, in particular, was in fine form, allowing not a single goal from their opponents over the final two regular season matches and both of the championship games.

 

Yokohama battled to a scoreless draw at the match in Yokohama Stadium, so the return leg in Tokyo's National Stadium was for all the marbles. The first 20 minutes of the contest were dominated by the Marinos, with the Antlers just sitting back in a defensive shell, fending off the Marinos attacks and occasionally sending a long ball forward for Atsushi Yanagisawa or Takayuki Suzuki to run for. Yet this seemed to be almost deliberate. Though the Antlers were on the defensive, they never looked in danger of cracking. In fact, the Marinos didnt even get off a single shot on goal. The rock-solid back line of Soma, Fabiano, Akita and Narahashi coolly broke up every single Marinos thrust.

 

As the game wore on, the strategy began to pay off. Frustrated by their inability to penetrate into the final third of the pitch, the Marinos midfielders began pushing further forward in support, leaving acres of open space on the wings. In the 21st minute, the Antlers finally got the counterattack they had been patiently waiting for. After a sudden surge into attack and a mad scramble in front of the net, the ball bounded into the net for the opening goal . . . but the linesman's flag was up. The goal was disallowed. Despite this disappointment, it was apparent that the tide was starting to turn. In the 29th minute, lightning finally struck.

 

After breaking up a Marinos play in the center of the field, the Antlers broke out of their zone and Ogasawara found Takayuki Suzuki with a defender on his back. Suzuki screened the ball beautifully, fending off the challenge and leaving his defender on the ground as he broke into the Marinos zone. Turning the left corner, Suzuki sent the ball inside to his partner up front, Atsushi Yanagisawa, who was posting up the final two defenders. Yanagisawa one-timed the ball back to Suzuki who now had an open path to the left post. As Yanagisawa broke to the center of the penalty area, Suzuki faked the pass and got Kawaguchi leaning the wrong way, then drilled the ball just inside the upright to put the Antlers up 1-0.

 

Having conceded the lead, the Marinos attacks grew even more desperate and their midfield more overextended. With no weapons to crack the Antlers defence, it seemed to be only a matter of time before another counterattack would shove the dagger in deeper. The Antlers got their second goal on a set play after just such a counterattack resulted in a foul on the right sideline. Bismarck took the free kick, which was headed out to defender Yutaka Akita at midfield. As the Marinos rushed out, Akita spotted Akira Narahashi on the right wing and looped the ball over the top as Narahashi broke for goal. With all of the Marinos players running at top speed in the opposite direction, Narahashi had 20 meters of open space when he received the ball, and the only challenge was trapping it before Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi could get out of his net, and fire it into the roof of the net.

 Just before time expired in the first period, the Antlers put the final nail in the coffin. Picking up a loose ball on the left sideline, Nakata Koji looked up and saw that Kawaguchi was well off his line. From the very edge of the field, he lofted a perfect shot that sailed towards the top corner. Kawaguchi scrambled back to try to make the save, but his momentum carried him right into the crossbar, knocking the ball loose from his grasp and into the net. After such a heartbreaking finish to the first half, and in a 3-0 hole, the Marinos didnt stand a chance. The Antlers were content with the score line, and after 45 minutes of clock-watching, Kashima had the second of what would be three trophies on the year -- an unprecedented treble of the Nabisco Cup, League Championship and Emperor's Cup. Only one team has ever matched this feat -- Gamba Osaka, in 2014.


 

Scoring Leaders

20 Masashi Nakayama Jubilo Iwata
18 Hideaki Kitajima Kashiwa Reysol
17 Tuto FC Tokyo
17 Yoo Sang-Chul Yokohama Marinos
17 Kazuyoshi Miura Kyoto Purple Sanga
16 Kim Hyun-Seog Verdy Kawasaki
15 Hiroaki Morishima Cerezo Osaka
15 Akinori Nishizawa Cerezo Osaka
13 Baron JEF United
13 Amaral FC Tokyo
11 Tomoyuki Hirase Kashima Antlers
11 Tatsuhiko Kubo Sanfrecce Hiroshima
10 Naohiro Takahara Jubilo Iwata
10 Wagner Lopes Nagoya Grampus
9 Hiromi Kojima Gamba Osaka
9 Montoya Avispa Fukuoka
8 Daisuke Tonoike Yokohama Marinos
8 Toshiya Fujita Jubilo Iwata
8 Mitsutoshi Watada Vissel Kobe

 

J.League Awards, 2000

MVP Shunsuke Nakamura 22 Yokohama Marinos
Rookie of the Year Kazuyuki Morisaki 19 Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Golden Boot Masashi Nakayama 33 Cerezo Osaka
Coach of the Year Akira Nishino 45 Kashiwa Reysol

Best Eleven

GK Daijiro Takakuwa 27 Kashima Antlers
DF Yutaka Akita 30 Kashima Antlers
Hong Myung-Bo 31 Kashiwa Reysol
Naoki Matsuda 23 Yokohama Marinos
MF Shunsuke Nakamura 22 Yokohama Marinos
Tomokazu Myojin 22 Kashiwa Reysol
Junichi Inamoto 21 Gamba Osaka
Hiroaki Morishima 28 Cerezo Osaka
FW Tuto 22 FC Tokyo
Masashi Nakayama 33 Jubilo Iwata
Akinori Nishizawa 24 Cerezo Osaka