07 October 2008

Looking at Next Year's Competition for Mito

Mito's loss on Sunday mathematically eliminated the team from promotion possibility, but realistically there are only a few teams who stand a chance to join Hiroshima in J1 next year. Yamagata, Shonan, Sendai, Tosu, and Cerezo Osaka look to have that chance, and one or two of them will cut their teeth on the premier league of Japan next year. The remaining teams will be competing it all over again with Mito in 2009.

More interesting is the race in the divisions surrounding J1. With barely a handful of matches left, Sapporo seems almost sure to return to J2 after barely winning it last year. The one or two teams to drop in addition will have been fighting it out to avoid that fate as the standings are very close. Only five points separate 9th through 17th place and to predict even likely candidates at this point would be premature. Current 16th and 17th place teams Tokyo Verdy and Omiya seem likely based on current form and would be best for Mito as far as having nearby rivals, but Chiba's resurgence this year and Omiya's season ending last year show not to count anyone out, and it only takes a good run or a single surprising win to stay in J1.

Below J2 in JFL, former favorites and Mito neighbors Tochigi SC have lost four in a row and hasn't won since seven matches ago. Yet, still in 2nd place in the standings, that team has a decent chance to join J2 next year. Just behind in 3rd and 4th are Fagiano Okayama and Katare Toyama. Also in the running is Gainare Tottori. Honda FC and Yokogawa aren't eligible for the pro ranks and it looks likely that at least one of them will finish in the top 4, so it seems likely that two or three of eligible teams will make it to J2 next year. Tochigi would be the pick for Mito fans of course.

There are some rumors going around among those in the know that an otherwise eligible non-league team able to win the Emperor's Cup would be offered a professional slot. This is not out of merit, but out of image in the newly important ACL tournament. It would be embarrassing to have a Hokushinetsu League midtable team battling it out to be Champion of Asia. This would be another, albeit highly unlikely, method of joining J2.

1 comment:

richy said...

Pretty much every week brings an unexpected win or defeat at the moment.. In the J1 - top to bottom is still undecided, J2 apart from Hiroshima, is the same. JFL is the same again!
Really is one of the most tightly contested years ever (probably!).
Great to see.