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Thursday, March 1, 2007

J. LEAGUE 2007


FC Tokyo

Staff writer

Last season: 13th

Manager: Hiromi Hara

Prospects: Title contender (seriously)

News photo
Sota Hirayama is one of three big forwards at FC Tokyo, along with Paulo Wanchope and Lucas. KYODO PHOTO

One to watch: Paulo Wanchope, an outrageously gifted forward who has a penchant for the spectacular.

After Bare, two of the best bits of business this offseason -- the signing of Costa Rican legend Paulo Wanchope and midfielder Takashi Fukunishi from Jubilo Iwata -- have transformed the team into genuine title contenders. It looks like Fukunishi's international career is over, which means he can concentrate on marshaling The Gasmen's midfield. Former Derby County, West Ham United and Manchester City striker Wanchope, who scored twice against Germany in the 2006 World Cup finals, also has finished with internationals and if the oft-injured forward can stay fit he should find it easy-pickings in the league.

Then again, Wanchope's wanderlust could be a problem. He gets itchy feet if things aren't going well, so FC Tokyo better hope he settles in quickly.

Add national team player Yasuyuki Konno and forwards Lucas -- he bagged 18 last season -- and Sota Hirayama into the mix and there seems to be the making of a very strong starting XI.

One headache is injured Japan international Teruyuki Moniwa, sidelined with a dislocated left shoulder, although he should be back to full fitness by the end of March.

See related stories:
Osim Jr. feels the pressure
Captain Sato wants 3rd cup triumph
S-Pulse's Fujimoto eyes national team
Manager Oliveira places faith in forwards
Vissel Kobe coach Matsuda welcomes changing of the guard
German Osieck embraces Reds challenge
Sef tips Grampus young guns

Urawa Reds Kawasaki Frontale Gamba Osaka
Shimizu S-Pulse Jubilo Iwata Kashima Antlers
Nagoya Grampus Eight Oita Trinita Yokohama F. Marinos
Sanfrecce Hiroshima JEF United Chiba Omiya Ardija
FC Tokyo Albirex Niigata Ventforet Kofu
Yokohama FC Kashiwa Reysol Vissel Kobe

J. League Schedule J. League Soccer

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