IN 1999
Emperor attend Emperor's Cup
The Emperor and Empress was present at the semi-finals of the Emperor's Cup held between Kashima Reysol and Nagoya Grampus on Dec. 26. It's the first time ever that the imperial couple attended a pro soccer match. They were able to witness 2 goals by Grampus which won 2 to 0.

1999 J.League Awards
Presented on Dec.13 at Yokohama Arena.
Title Player
Player of the YearAlex (Shimizu S Pulse)
Top Striker Hwang Sun Hong (Cerezo Osaka)
Rookie of the Year Yuji Nakazawa (Verdy Kawasaki)
Manager of the Year Steve Perryman (Shimizu S Pulse)

J.League Championship
The winner of J.league's first stage and second stage, Jubilo Iwata and Shimizu S Pulse compete in this championship. Both teams are from Shizuoka Prefecture.
1st leg
On Dec. 4, the game was held in the packed Iwata Stadium. The turnout was 17,337. In the first 30 minute, Masashi "Gon" Nakayama kicked in a goal. 4 minutes later, Shimizu caught up with Masaaki Sawanobori's goal. The game in the end was extended. 7 minutes into it, Shimizu's player accidently used his hand. Jubilo won a penalty kick. It was again Gon who succeeded in scoring to clinch the game 2 to 1.
2nd leg
The site moved to Nihondaira Stadium also in Shizuoka on Dec.11. In the first 34th minute, Jubilo's Toshihiro Hattori drove the ball into the goal. Soon after, Shimizu's Alex was dismissed from the game. He was penalized for kicking his opponent in the stomach. Shimizu had to fight with only 10 players. But team leader Massaki Sawanobori succeeded in scoring a penalty kick immediately following. Neither teams scored in the later half, so the game was extended. Brazilian Fabinho was the one to break the tie with a goal. Usually, you'd think the game would end with Shimizu's 2 to 1 victory. However, according to the championship rule, since Jubilo won the previous game, it was given a chance to play in a penalty shoot out. And what happened was Fabinho, as the second Shimizu to miss the goal determined the loss for his team, ironically. Jubilo with the 4 to 2 penaly shootout won the championship title.

Urawa faces demotion
The J.League's J-1 division 2nd stage closed on Nov. 27. At the same time, one of the most supported teams Urawa Reds demotion to J-2 was decided. Moving to the lower decision was between the Reds, Avispa Fukuoka and JEF Ichihara. JEF won, and even though Avispa lost, the Reds' draw gave it a higher finish in the division. The Reds, as a result of a prolonged game won--but it was too late. Reds consists of stars such as Shinji Ono. Earlier, Bellmare Hiratsuka's demotion was determined too. Meanwhile in the J-2, besides Kawasaki Frontale, FC Tokyo have secured their place in the higher division for the coming season.

Shimizu clinches 2nd stage
On Nov. 23, Shimizu S Pulse faced Yokohama F Marinos in Yokohama. Shimizu were the first to goal. Yokohama quickly caught up. But Shimizu scored again and won the game 2 to 1. The victory has given Shimizu it's first J.League stage title with only one more game to go. Shimizu will play Jubilo Iwata in the J.League Championship in Dec.

Frontale secures J1 berth
Kawasaki Frontale defeated Sagan Tosu 2 to 1 on Nov.5. This win has promised Frontale's surge to the J1 division of the J.league. Frontale was founded in 1955 by soccer fans working with electronics giant Fujitsu.

Kazu faces former teammates
On Sept.11, Kazuyoshi Miura faced Verdy Kawasaki. It's the first time ever he plays against the team he was with for 9 years. He attached the goal aggressively, but was unable to goal. Kyoto Purple Sanga finished the game 1 to 0, and placed 3rd in the J-1 rankings.

Fabulous start for Kazu with Purple Sanga
Kazu played his first game with the Purple Sanga on Aug. 28 facing Vissel Kobe. As Shu Kamo had commanded, he took scoring positions. In the later half, he headed in a goal--his first goal in Japan in 329 days. He also kicked in a goal in the 31st minute. He left the game immediately after, but the fans were satisfied. Thanks to Kazu, Purple Sanga won 3 to 1.

Kazu returns to the J.League
Kazu Miura of Croatia's Zagreb officially signed with Kyoto Purple Sanga on Aug. 24. The main reason why he decided to take the plunge was because Sanga manager was Shu Kamo. Kamo was a national team head coach who Kazu got along well with. Kazu's contract with Sanga is valid for 5 months.

Zico is at last Antler's manager
On Aug. 19, it was disclosed that the Antler's will fire Ze Mario. He is taken responsible for the team's 3 straight loss from the beginning of J.League's 2nd stage. And Zico, who has long been Antler's technical manager will be the official manager-- taking control of the team completely for the first time..

Jubilo victorious in first stage
Masashi "Gon" Nakayama pushed himself despite a leg injury in the game that if Jubilo Iwata wins would give them the first stage victory. Jubilo played against Avispa Fukuoka on May 26. Jubilo attacked the goal aggressively. Neither teams could score. So the game was extended. Daisuke Oku kicked in the game winning goal giving Jubilo a 1 to 0 before a crowd of 17,000 at Iwata Stadium. Jubilo has for the 3rd time clinched a stage victory.

Jubilo is back on top
Jubilo clinched its 7th straight win by defeating Grampus Eight 2 to 1 on May 15. All scores were assisted by Nanami. On the other hand, Verdy lost to Avispa Fukuoka 0 to 3 and it tumbled down the first spot, giving it to Jubilo. By the way, Urawa Red Diamonds ended its losing streak at 6 with a win over Kashima Antlers. Shinji Ono completed a beautiful penalty kick.

Upheated Golden Week
Fans crowded to soccer games held all around Japan in the end of "Golden Week" or a holiday season. That's on Children's Day on May 5. The J.League had its largest single game turnout this season at the national stadium. Over 51,000 cheered on Kashima Antlers and Jubilo Iwata. The game went into extra time. Jubilo clinched it 2 to 1 with "Gon" Nakayama's pass assisting its victory. The once super popular team Verdy Kawasaki continues to win. It defeated Avispa Fukuoka 2 to 1 for its 7th straight victory. Verdy is on top of the league with regards to goals scored. But Jubilo is still the front runner.

Gon is contributing again
Jubilo Iwata's MVP striker for the 1998 season, Masashi "Gon" Nakayama contributed the team with 2 goals. His lifetime goal has totaled 88--placing him only 2nd after Kazu Miura who is currently playing for Zagreb in Croatia. Gon's team was able to keep the lead in the J1 division of the J-League.

A goal by goalie
In the game against Montedio Yamagata on Apr.7, former national goalkeeper Shigetatsu Matsunaga picked up the ball from his side casually, kicked it up high and quite a distance. It even bounced over Yamagata's goalkeeper's head and the consequence was unbelievable. The 3853 fans were taken by surprise. The ball skid into the goal. It's the first time ever that a goalkeeper kicked in a goal from his position. In the end, Kyoto Purple Sanga won 5 to 0. 36 year-old Matsunaga was a national player in from 1987 to 95.

Verdy wins before small crowd
For a long time, Verdy Kawasaki was Japan's most popular soccer team. But it's without its superstars. Kazu left for Croatia, Ramos Rui became a futsol player, and former captain Hashiratani retired. Verdy's heydays were gone a few years ago. It ended last season with 7 straight losses. It even lost this year's opener. Well, Verdy won at last on Mar. 13 over Cerezo Osaka 2 to 0. It's president, Nobuhisa Sakata responded with tears. The team won in front of 6045 in Todoroki, Tokyo. Compare that number to last year's opener when they recorded a crowd of 27,680. But, a win is a win.

J.League opens to 7th season
On Mar. 6, 16 teams in J.League's J1 division kicked off their 1999 season. The lower division of J2 includes 10 teams. Yokohama F. Marinos made their debut after the controversial merger between Flugels and the Marinos during the off season. They fought against Bellmare Hiratsuka who suddenly lost a sponsorshop fee of 30 million yen during the week, because their sole sponsor Fujita decided so. The new team won 2 to 0.

Xerox Cup: Antlers vs. Shimizu
Emperor's Cup champions Yokohama Flugels were supposed to play against 98 J.League champion Kashima Antlers. But the match was not realized because the Flugels do not exist anymore. Runner up Shimizu S. Pulse replaced the Flugels. Tokyo's national stadium attracted 28,520 people. Not a large crowd. The game itself was competitive. The first to score was Antlers' Yanagisawa. In the first 24 minutes. Only a minute after, Antlers' Sawanobori used his head for a draw. Antlers' Narahashi kicked in the goal to give the team its 3rd straight Xerox Cup victory.

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