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Saturday, March 8, 2008
J. LEAGUE 2008
TEAM BY TEAM ANALYSIS
Last season: 14th
If preseason omens are anything to go by, Oita coach Pericles Chamusca will not be looking forward to the big kickoff.
First the inevitable happened, and J. League heavyweight Urawa Reds came swooping for Trinita's talented young midfielder, Tsukasa Umesaki.
Chamusca must have been prepared for this, however, and the club pulled off a great piece of business by securing the loan services of Olympic team member Akihiro Ienaga from Gamba Osaka to fill the gap.
What could not be foreseen was Ienaga injuring his knee and consigning himself to the treatment room for at least six months.
Nonetheless, Trinita has also brought in striker Ueslei from relegated Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and although the Brazilian may turn 36 a month into the new season, he has been a consistent goalscorer throughout his seven years in Japan.
With little to differentiate between the teams set to scrap it out near the bottom of the table, Oita will be looking for a better start than last season, when the club took just 12 points from its opening 13 games.
A defense that conceded 60 goals will also have to shape up fast, no matter how many Ueslei can put away at the other end.