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Friday, March 5, 2010


Omiya Ardija

Staff writer

Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.

Last season: 13th

Omiya should have had first-division survival in the bag long before the penultimate weekend last season, but nerves combined with Kashiwa Reysol's last stand to ensure a sixth straight season in the top flight did not come easy.

Ardija certainly looked to have the quality to wrap things up earlier. The richly deserved 3-1 home win over eventual champion Kashima Antlers will live long in the memory, but it was not the only time Chang Woe Ryong's side showed an aptitude for attractive attacking soccer.

Croatian colossus Mato Neretljak turned out to be arguably the best buy of any team during last year's offseason, and Omiya has done well to retain his services.

Brazilian striker Raffael also chipped in with important goals after arriving in the summer, but it remains to be seen how long the club can continue to turn up gems in the transfer market.

This winter's intake, led by North Korean An Yong Hak and former Kawasaki Frontale man Kazuhiro Murakami, looks decent enough for Ardija to beat the drop again, and quite conceivably earlier than they did last season.

Previews continued:

Yokohama F. Marinos

Jubilo Iwata

Kyoto Sanga

Omiya Ardija

Vissel Kobe

Montedio Yamagata

Vegalta Sendai

Cerezo Osaka

Shonan Bellmare

Kashima Antlers

Kawasaki Frontale

Gamba Osaka

Sanfrecce Hiroshima

FC Tokyo

Urawa Reds

Shimizu S-Pulse

Albirex Niigata

Nagoya Grampus

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