J.League Awards
Announced on Nov.21.
Title Player
Player of the YearJorginho (Kashima Antlers)
Top Striker Kazu Miura (Verdy Kawasaki)
Rookie of the Year Toshihide Saito (Shimizu S.Pulse)
Fair Play Award Masayuki Okano (Urawa Reds))
Manager of the Year Nicanor (Kashiwa Reysol)
Referee of the Year Zoran Petrovic
Assistant Referee of the Year Sadanori Hiroshima

J.League championship finals
It was cold and raining most of the time during the Suntory Cup championship match on Nov. 20, between J. League champion Kashima Antlers and runner up, Nagoya Grampus Eight. The Antlers were in control of the ball more often, but was not able to achieve a goal, so the game went into sudden death. Grampus striker and former Yugoslav international, Dragan Stojkovic kicked in the winning goal to end the game. The victory takes Grampus to the Sanyo Bank Cup--the game between Japan and US pro soccer league champions.

Just for your information, the Suntory Cup is played between top 2 teams of the Nabisco Cup and the top 2 of the J.League this season.

Antlers become J. League champion for the first time
Kashima Antlers clinched the 1996 J. League on Nov. 9. They lost that day to Kawasaki Verdy 5 to 0. But because the 2nd runner, Yokohama Flugels lost 0 to 3, their victory was decided. It's the first time for the Antlers to win the J. League season since the league was formed 4 years ago. The Antlers finished the season with 21 wins and 9 losses. The team is supported by a very famous man. He's Zico, who has been dubbed "White Pele". Zico played for the Antlers from 1991 and has recently been their technical director. Even though the team lost that day, after the game, the team surrounded Zico and tossed him into mid air 5 times.

In this game, Japan's soccer star, Kazu Miura kicked in 2 goals. Kazu became the pro soccer league's top stricker.

Spectator record
A record was broken! It's unfortunately, not something to be proud of. J. League teams, Cerezo Osaka and JEF Ichihara played at a brand new stadium in Sapporo, the site of the '72 Winter Olympic Games. Can you guess how many fans the game and the spick and span stands attracted!? Two thousand two hundred eighteen. The number dropped from the previous record of 5231 spectators which was set in the March 31, 1996 game between Kyoto Purple Sanga and Cerezo Osaka. 7 other soccer games held on that "special" day attracted on the average, 10 thousand or so people.

Michiyo's Note: If you'd like more information on soccer, click here

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