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Saturday, March 8, 2008

J. LEAGUE 2008


Kawasaki Frontale

Staff writer

Last season: fifth

No other team can call on such a formidable attacking arsenal going into the new season as Frontale.

North Korean international Chong Tese emerged as a powerful front-runner last season, to complement the guile of last season's J. League top-scorer Juninho and the brilliance of playmaker Kengo Nakamura.

Opposing defenses will now also have to deal with Hulk, who returns to Frontale after bagging an incredible 62 goals during two seasons in J2 with Consadole Sapporo and Tokyo Verdy.

The young Brazilian is a cast-iron guarantee of goals, and with Japan international Satoru Yamagishi also joining the ranks, and the forgotten Kazuki Ganaha returning from suspension, Kawasaki looks like a serious prospect for the title.

That will only be the case, however, if a weak-looking defense can stop the goals from flying in at the other end, and much will depend on how effectively midfielder Hiroyuki Taniguchi can bring balance to the side.

The 22-year-old was named to the 2006 J. League team of the year, and another standout performance could force him into national team coach Takeshi Okada's plans.

Frontale will have to find consistency to be considered contenders, however. Beating Gamba Osaka 4-1 only to lose to Kashima Antlers by the same scoreline the next week is hardly the stuff of champions.

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