Kyoto Sanga the team to Watch in J2 This Season?

As the 2019 season gets underway Kyoto Sanga have started with a creditable draw - against Albirex Niigata, with the away team fortunate to come away with a point - and a win over J2 new boys Kagoshima United. Pre-season Sanga made some important acquisitions, not the least of which was, in this writer's opinion, bringing in Gert Engels as Head Coach. Engels (pictured) will trigger fond memories for Sanga fans of a certain vintage, as he was manager of the team from 2000-2003, when he took the team back into J1, as well as capturing the club's lone Emperor's Cup trophy. Engels told me in late 2018 that he would be moving to Sanga, but not as "manager" but as head coach, as he wanted to work with the players directly, as opposed to being held back by other duties, meetings, paperwork, whatever - on the training ground, on the field, all the time! The work is underway! I have a feeling that this Kyoto Sanga team will not be fighting relegation this season... but can they improve enough to make the play-offs? Or even better?!

Another key acquisition for Sanga this season is the return of prodigal son Takumi Miyayoshi. I had the pleasure of seeing him come onto the field for his debut - against Yokohama F.Marinos, if I remember correctly, back in 2008, and he almost had the ball in the net within minutes. A precocious 16-year-old with talent that was easy to see. After a few seasons with Sanga (including a loan period at Kataller Toyama in 2014) he was enticed away to Sanfrecce Hiroshima, where he spent a couple of seasons in and out of the team due to various injuries. He spent the 2018 campaign at Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo, who he helped to their best-ever finish, before returning to captain Sanga for the 2019 campaign. Are good days ahead for Sanga? Watch this space!

Above - Gert Engels

Pre-match team picture.

 

Sanga celebrate!

Tulio in action - without shirt badge! There was no story here, though, just a faulty shirt (Puma to blame, not Tulio - he didn't rip it off in disgust!!).

 

Takumi Miyayoshi returned to Sanga for 2019.

Katsuya Nakano celebrates a goal!

 

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J1 Standings

 

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Marinos 70 22 4 8 68 38 +30
2 FCTokyo 64 19 7 8 46 29 +17
3 Antlers 63 18 9 7 54 30 +24
4 Frontale 60 16 12 6 57 34 +23
5 Cerezo 59 18 5 11 39 25 +14
6 Sanfrecce 55 15 10 9 45 29 +16
7 Gamba 47 12 11 11 54 48 +6
8 Vissel 47 14 5 15 61 59 +2
9 Trinita 47 12 11 11 35 35 0
10 Consadole 46 13 7 14 54 49 +5
11 Vegalta 41 12 5 17 38 45 -7
12 S-Pulse 39 11 6 17 45 69 -24
13 Grampus 37 9 10 15 45 50 -5
14 Reds 37 9 10 15 34 50 -16
15 Sagan 36 10 6 18 32 53 -21
16 Bellmare 36 10 6 18 40 63 -23
17 Yamaga 31 6 13 15 21 40 -19
18 Jubilo 31 8 7 19 29 51 -22

J2 Standings

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Reysol 84 25 9 8 85 33 +52
2 Yoko FC 79 23 10 9 66 40 +26
4 Vortis 73 21 10 11 67 45 +22
3 Ardija 75 20 15 7 62 40 +22
5 Ventforet 71 20 11 11 64 40 +24
6 Montedio 70 20 10 12 59 40 +19
7 Hollyhock 70 19 13 10 56 37 +19
8 Sanga 68 19 11 12 59 56 +3
9 Fagiano 65 18 11 13 49 47 +2
10 Albirex 62 17 11 14 71 52 +19
11 Zweigen 61 15 16 11 58 46 +12
12 VVaren 56 17 5 20 57 61 -4
13 Verdy 55 14 13 15 59 59 0
14 FCRyukyu 49 13 10 19 57 80 -23
15 Renofa 47 13 8 21 54 70 -16
16 Avispa 44 12 8 22 39 62 -23
17 JEF United 43 10 13 19 46 64 -18
18 Zelvia 43 9 16 17 36 59 -23
19 Ehime FC 42 12 6 24 46 62 -16
20 Tochigi SC 40 8 16 18 33 53 -20
21 Kagoshima 40 11 7 24 41 73 -32
22 FCGifu 30 7 9 26 33 78 -45

J3 Standings

. Team Pts W D L GF GA G.Dif.
1 Giravanz 66 19 9 6 51 27 +24
2 Thespa 63 18 9 7 59 34 +25
3 Fujieda 63 18 9 7 42 31 +11
4 Kataller 58 16 10 8 54 31 23
5 Roasso 57 16 9 9 45 39 +6
6 Cerezo U23 52 16 4 14 49 56 -7
7 Gainare 50 14 8 12 49 59 -10
8 Blaublitz 49 13 10 11 45 35 +10
9 Parceiro 49 13 10 11 35 34 +1
10 Vanuraure 48 14 6 14 49 42 +7
11 Fukushima 43 13 4 17 45 53 -8
12 AzulClaro 39 11 6 17 35 43 -8
13 YSCC 39 12 3 19 53 65 -12
14 Kamatamare 39 10 9 15 33 49 -16
15 Sagamihara 38 10 8 16 36 45 -9
16 FCTokyo U23 36 9 9 16 43 52 -9
17 Gamba U23 35 9 8 17 54 55 -1
18 Grulla 26 7 5 22 36 63 -27