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Saturday, March 6, 2010
2010 J. LEAGUE PREVIEW
Team-by-team previews of the 18 teams competing in the first division.
Last season: fifth
After finishing fifth in the league and ending a five-year trophy drought by winning the Nabisco Cup, expectations surrounding FC Tokyo are sky-high heading into the new season. Given the strides the capital city club has made, it is easy to see why.
No other J. League squad contains as many improved individuals as the one at Hiroshi Jofuku's disposal. Naohiro Ishikawa was the big revelation last season, but previous underachievers Sota Hirayama and Yuhei Tokunaga upped their game so far they ended up in Takeshi Okada's national team.
A brilliant rookie season from Takuji Yonemoto added weight to the notion that Tokyo's time is coming, and Masato Morishige's arrival from Oita Trinita further strengthens a squad that looked a little on the thin side last year.
But whether it has filled out enough to challenge for the title is another matter. The Nabisco Cup has offered a glimpse of success, but Tokyo's rivals have winning experience that Jofuku's side can only dream about.
In truth, the title might be a step too far. Further trophies are not out of the question, though, and neither is a place in next year's Asian Champions League.