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Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003

Yutaka Akita, Naoki Soma axed

KASHIMA, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) Kashima Antlers on Tuesday told veteran defender and former Japan international Yutaka Akita they will not be offering him a new contract for next season.

Kashima also informed fellow defender Naoki Soma, another former Japan star, that he will not be part of the club's plans as both make way for a new generation at the four-time J. League champion.

Capped 45 times for Japan and a national team squad member for both his country's World Cup appearances, 33-year-old Akita played a pivotal role in helping Kashima to numerous league and cup titles, including an unprecedented domestic treble in 2000.

Soma, 32, who played alongside Akita in Japan's World Cup debut in France in 1998 and has 59 caps to his name, joined Kashima in 1994 and after a loan spell at Tokyo Verdy returned to the club this season. He has made a total of 277 appearances in the J. League.

Kobe cuts Miura

KOBE (Kyodo) Vissel Kobe will not renew its contract for next season with defender Yasutoshi Miura, the oldest player in the J. League first division at 38, club officials said Wednesday.

Coach Hiroshi Soejima, whose contract expires at the end of the club's Emperor's Cup campaign, will also not return next season, the club said.

Yanagishita to quit

Jubilo Iwata coach Masaaki Yanagishita will resign from the J. League first division club, soccer sources said Wednesday.

Jubilo tried to convince Yanagishita to remain with the club but the 43-year-old had already decided he would not return for next season.

This season Jubilo came second in the first stage and third in the second.

"As long as I am coach for Jubilo, I have to win the title," Yanagishita said.



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