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Saturday, March 8, 2008

J. LEAGUE 2008


Consadole Sapporo

Staff writer

Last season: first in J2

Consadole will not lack support in its first season in J1 since 2002 — more supporters watched the club's penultimate game of the season at Sapporo Dome than saw Antlers clinch the first division title in Kashima.

Sapporo also has an expert on first-division survival at the helm. Coach Toshiya Miura led Omiya Ardija into the top flight in 2004, before consolidating the Saitama club's position with two solid campaigns.

Consadole fans would settle for more of the same, and the club did well to achieve promotion last season after losing the services of prolific striker Hulk to J2 rivals Tokyo Verdy at the start of the year.

Brazilian Davi proved a capable replacement, hitting 17 goals, and he will be joined by compatriot Nonato for a crack at the first division's defenses.

But the optimism is also tempered with caution. Midfielder Alceu looked like an excellent aquisition from Kashima Reysol, only for the Brazilian to have second thoughts and walk out on the club after a week, and the loss of Bruno Quadros is another big blow.

Defender Yushi Soda remains the key man for Consadole, and the club will need him to live up to that reputation if Miura is to work his relegation-avoiding magic again.

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