Mito's first match in the all-Japan soccer tournament will take place on Sunday, October 7, at Kasamatsu stadium.
Mito will face one of the following:
Zweigen Kanazawa, currently playing in the Hokushin-etsu league in central Japan. On the current roster is midfielder Yusuke Gondo, who played on Mito's roster last year.
FC Kariya, currently playing in the JFL and struggling near the bottom of the standings, with a strong possibility of relegation at the end of the season.
Rosso Kumamoto, a JFL powerhouse that, barring a disaster, will be promoted to J2 this year. With only 9 games to go, Kumamoto has a full 12 points ahead of the 5th place team that could stand to prevent promotion. Mito played against the team in the 2004 Emperor's Cup under the same circumstances, beating the then-named Allouette Kumamoto 4-0.
It seems most likely that Kumamoto will defeat Kanazawa and then Kariya to face Mito in October. With the likelihood of Kumamoto being a new league opponent next year, the first Emperor's Cup match looks to be much more exciting than in previous years.
For those who don't know, the Emperor's Cup is the perfect stage for a team unfortunate in the standings (similar to Mito) to refocus and make a name for itself. It would especially benefit a team with Mito's strengths and low expectations to do well at the beginning to attract attention. Even a team at the bottom of the 2nd division, as Mito is now, could have a string of good matches and end up national cup winners, representing Japan in the AFC Champions League in 2009. Sapporo came close to doing that last year.