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Thursday, March 1, 2007
J. LEAGUE 2007
TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS
Last season: 13th
Manager: Hiromi Hara
Prospects: Title contender (seriously)
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.