IN 2000
Kazu joins Kobe
"King" Kazu who was released by Kyoto Purple Sanga was given offers by several teams. On Dec.27, he announced that he has made up his mind to join Vissel Kobe. His earning for a year is estimated at 60 million yen.

2000 J.League Awards
Presented on Dec.11 at Yokohama Arena.
Title Player
Player of the YearShunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F.Marinos)
Top Striker Masashi Nakayama (Jubilo Iwata)
Rookie of the Year Kazuyuki Morisaki (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Manager of the Year Toninho Cerezo (Kashima Antlers)

J.League Championship
The competition is between first stage winner Yokohama F Marinos and second stage champ Kashima Antlers.
1st leg
The first game was held at the Yokohama International Stadium on Dec. 2. Spectators exceeded 40,000. In the first half, the Antlers were more in control. But they could not score. In the later half, it was the Marinos. But the game ended scoreless for both side.
2nd leg
The site on Dec. 9 was Tokyo's National Stadium. There were more than 44,000 in the stands. It was a very different game from the previous. The Antlers succeeded in 3 goals already in the first half. Blond Takayuki Suzuki was the first to goal. It was in the 24th minute. Then in the 39th, Akira Narahashi goaled. Marinos' goalkeeper Yoshikazu Kawaguchi caught the ball kicked by Koji Nakata, but he dropped together inside the goal to give the Antler another point. The Marinos brought Shoji Jo in the later part of the game, but he did not help. The game ended 3 to 0. The Antlers' clinched the J.League title for the 3rd time. It's the most among J.League teams.

Kazu fired from Kyoto
On Nov. 30, 33-year Kazu Miura reported to the press that he was notified his team Kyoto Purple Sanga that he is not considered for next season. Then the next day, he told the press that he asked the team his monetary value, and he received the response "zero". The team owner said at a press conference that a player as valuable to the soccer world as Kazu should play for some other team--not for a team that has been demoted to J2. Kazu meanwhile gave a cynical smile. This incident is angering soccer fans because of the bad treatment the team is giving Japan's soccer superstar. Kazu kicked in the 3rd most number of goals in J1 this season. But there's good news too. On Dec. 1, it was decided that Kazu play on the national team in a game against South Korea on Dec. 20.

Antlers clinch 2nd stage
Kashima Antlers and Kashiwa Reysol competed for the 2nd stage title on Nov. 26 at Tokyo's National Stadium. The game attracted 50,000 fans. The game itself was a competitive one. Neither team could goal even into sudden death. The game ended a 0 to 0, but due to past points, the Antlers won the J1 2nd state title.

Hat trick rush in J1
It was a great day on Nov. 23 for veteran star players. Masashi "Gon" Nakayama kicked in goal after goal for Jubilo Iwata to defeat SanFrecce Hiroshima 3 to 0. The team which is on the verge of falling to J2, Kyoto Purple Sanga was saved, at least for the time being by King Kazu. His hat trick gave the team a 3 to 2 win over his former long time home, Verdy Kawasaki.

Urawa secures place in J.1
On November 19, Urawa Reds defeated Sagan Tosu 2 to 1. This has finalized the Reds promotion to the J1 level. 20,000 fans at Komaba Staium chanted with joy witnessing the victory. The Reds fans are regarded as the most loyal supporters in the J.League.

Gamba falls from top replaced by Antlers
On Nov. 11, Gamba Osaka lost 3 to 1 to Kashiwa Reysol, while Kashima Antlers, thanks to Shunsuke Nakamura's playing well, surged to first place. It kept the top position on Nov.18 clinching the game in extra time over Sanfrecce Hiroshima. On the other hand, Frontale Kawasaki's demotion to J2 was finalized the same day.

J.League resumed
The J.League season was resumed on Nov. 8 after a 2 month break due to the Asian Cup which of course Japan won. Gamba Osaka defeated Kawasaki Frontale 4 to 0 to remain first place. Kashima Antlers kept 2nd place beating Shimizu S. Pulse 2 to 1, and so did Kashiwa Reysol at 3rd against Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2 to 1. Shoji Jo was back and goaled twice. That helped the Yokohama F. Marinos win 4 to 2 over Vissel Kobe.

Jo back in J.League
Shoji Jo was back playing with the Yokohama F. Marinos from Oct 2. He left the Spanish league, but he is reported to still have ambition to return there.

Nanami back in J.League
Hiroshi Nanami who was playing with Italy's Venezia announced formally on Sept 3 that he's back with Jubilo Iwata. He will play the remaining season with the team. Nanami was looking into working conditions from other European club team, negotiations have not been working out.

Gon celebrates 100th goal
Masashi "Gon" Nakayama of Jubilo Iwata kicked in a goal in the later 15th minute of the game against Kobe Vissel. He not only broke the tie, but achieved his 100th career goal on July 26. Gon is only the 2nd Japanese to mark a 100th goal after Kazu Miura who's with Kyoto Purple Sange. Jubilo in the end won 3 to 2 for 4th place. Meanwhile, Kashima Antlers keep 1st place.

Bebeto out
Brazil's former ace striker who had joined the Antlers just this year was learned to have been fired by the team July 7. He played in 8 games but goaled only once.

Marinos clinches first stage
Yokohama F. Marinos defeated Ichihara 2 to 0 on May 27. If Osaka Cerezo losses, the Marinos would clinch the 1st stage of the J1 League. Since the Marinos finished the game first, the players had to wait for the result. Cerezo played a tied game against Kawasaki Frontale, and played sudden death. But Frontale succeeded in the PK. So Marinos marked its 2nd victory, and the first since the merger of Yokohama Marinos and Yokohama Flugels.

Marinos loses first place
Yokohama F. Marinos which had secured first place for the past 3 games would have been declared J1's first stage champ if they won on May 20 within 90 minutes. That's because Shimizu S.Pulse marked its loss earlier that day. But it turned out the Cerezo Osaka, not only won 3 to 2 over the Marinos in pouring rain, but replaced it for the top post.

Kazu marks 100th goal
Kazu Miura who currently plays for Kyoto Purple Sanga kicked in his 100th goal in the J.League on May 13. He's the first to do so. And he succeeded in scoring another goal in the same game to take his team to a 3 to 2 victory over Vissel Kobe.

Hat trick rush
Kashima Antlers' Tomoyuki Hirase who's contributed to Japan's clinching a berth to the Sydney Games scored three times. He was everything to the teamfor the 3 to 0 victory over Vissel Kobe on Apr. 29. FC Tokyo's Tuto of Brazil also marked a hat trick and defeated Kyoto Purple Sanga 3 to 0. But it was Yokohama Marinos who climbed to the first spot in J1 with its victory over Gamba Osaka 4 to 1.

Bebeto's first goal
Bebeto kicked in his first goal in the J.League on Apr. 1, and the first for his team that day. But it was not a good day for him. He succumbed to a bloody head wound and had to leave the game. The Antlers, in fact, lost 2 to 3 to Yokohama F. Marinos. That day, newcomer FC Tokyo lost its first game in the J. League. It was defeated 3 to 2 by Kashiwa Reysol. Another news that day was that Shimizu S.Pulse's Alex will apply for Japanese nationality. The Brazilian player had expressed desire to play for Japan's national team.

Bebeto's first game
In the 2nd game since the season's opened, Bebeto started. On Mar.18 he played against Frontale Kawasaki. Although he was unable to score a goal, he's in pretty good shape for someone who hasn't played a game since last fall. He's been in Japan for only 2 weeks. Antlers defeated Frontale 1 to 0.

Season kicks off
FC Tokyo, the newcomer in the J1 division challenged Yokohama F. Marinos on the opening day Mar. 11. In the later half, FC Tokyo's Brazilian striker Amaral goaled a penalty. This goal gave the team it's first win in the top league. To the disappointment of Kashima Antlers' fans, Bebeto did not play. Still Antlers defeated Emperor's Cup champion Nagoya Grampus Eight 1 - 0. Last J.League champion Jubilo Iwata, however, lost 1-0 to Kashiwa Reysols.

Jubilo victorious in Super Cup
In the final of the J.League's pre season games on Mar. 4 were Emperor's Cup winner Nagoya Grampus Eight and last season's J.League champion Jubilo Iwata. Former national team captain Masami Ihara who was released by Yokohama F. Marinos was there in Jubilo's uniform. The full game ended a draw, so the win or the loss depended on a shootout. Jubilo clinched in 3 to 2, and was award prize money worth 30 million yen. Runner up Grampus won 20 million.

Bebeto ties the knot with Antlers
It was learned on Feb. 19 that Brazil's superstar Bebeto has signed with Kashima Antlers to play this season. Bebeto is 36 years old and has played in the World Cup 3 times. He has played in clubs in Brazil, Spain and Mexico.

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