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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