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Saturday, March 8, 2008

J. LEAGUE 2008


FC Tokyo

Staff writer

Last season: 12th

FC Tokyo has performed woefully for a number of seasons now, and last season's 12th-place finish was no more than it deserved.

Things look unlikely to change this year, and the club has taken a huge gamble by allowing a number of key players to leave.

Goalkeeper Yoichi Doi, arguably the team's most consistent player, has joined crosstown rival Tokyo Verdy, as has former national team midfielder Takashi Fukunishi.

But Fukunishi will not be as badly missed as striker Lucas, who has joined Gamba Osaka after plowing a lone furrow up front for a Tokyo team that has never been able to bring in players to match his endeavor or ability.

The Paulo Wanchope experiment was an unmitigated disaster, and Sota Hirayama has looked utterly lost since returning to Japan from Holland at the end of 2006.

What FC Tokyo can achieve after such hammer blows remains to be seen, but there are signs that such a pessimistic outlook may prove unfounded.

Yasuyuki Konno is still at the club despite strong rumors of a move, and national team midfielder Naotake Hanyu should thrive following his move from JEF United Chiba.

A decent cup run could be a possibility, but FC Tokyo may have to settle for derby-day bragging rights over Verdy this season.

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