The Top Team
The 2015 season J2 champion, Omiya Ardija, is warming up for the 2016 season. The new team structure was announced at a January 16 press conference in the attendance of Shigeru Suzuki (President), Daiju Matsumoto (Development Director), and Hiroki Shibuya (Head Coach). The team expressed enthusiasm and expectations for the coming season, and the 11 new members were introduced. Omiya Ardija’ also revealed their season objective, which is to establish and maintain the “Omiya style” of solid defense, copious offense, and controlling the game and finishing the season between 7th and 12th place with at least 48 points.
On January 17 the team got together at the Ardija training site (Takagi Football Field) for their first official training session of the 2016 season. Head Coach Shibuya opened the session pledging, “With solidarity, we will work hard to be one of the top contenders.” An event was held after the session where new members were introduced and had an opportunity to meet the club supporters and football fans. The team will be training in Okinawa and Miyazaki to prepare themselves for the new season in J1.
Omiya’s junior youth team participating in the 25th Saitama Prefecture Club Youth (U-14) Championship won their third match and the quarterfinal, making it to the Best 4. On January 9 they played against FC Coruja at Fukaya Sengenyama Park and snatched a 3-0 victory, and one week later shut out Higashimatsuyama Pelenia 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Ardija’s younger junior youth team took part in the 18th Saitama Prefecture Youth (U-13) Championship. They also advanced to the final stage where they defeated the Kamui Junior Youth 4-0 on January 10 and went on to win 4-0 against FC Kazo U-15, becoming the third representative to advance to the prefectural finals.
On January 10, Omiya Ardija Junior played their first round match in the 10th Saitama Prefecture Class 4 Rookie Championship, Southern District Tournament and demolished Ageo NEO 9-0. They captured a 1-0 victory over Urawa Reds Junior in the next match and advanced to the final tournament as the Southern District representative.
Serving on the top team from 2004 to 2013, Hayato Hashimoto just announced his retirement only to come back as a coach for the team. Hashimoto, a JFA certified Class C coach, has been appointed to the Development Headquarters Regional Produce Division U-12 coach. Said Hashimoto, “I’m excited to be able to contribute to the club as a coach.” Hashimoto’s predecessor since 2005, Atsushi Motoi, will be the head coach of AS Elfen Saitama that plays in the Japan Women’s Football League Second Division.
Forty fifth and sixth-graders from Ardija’s soccer school participated in the three-day “J School Winter Camp 2015” was held from December 28 to 30 at the Kashima Heights Sports Plaza. The event attracts soccer schools organized by J.League clubs in and around the Kanto region, and offers a wonderful opportunity for the students to demonstrate their acquired skills, get to know peers from other clubs and schools, and learn from the great experience.
The opening match-ups for the J.League 2016 season was announced, and Omiya Ardija will play against FC Tokyo on February 27 at Ajinomoto Stadium. The first home game of the season will be Match 2, scheduled to take place on March 5 against Kashiwa Reysol.
On January 16 the 2016 Omiya Ardija Supporters Meeting was organized at Saitama Super Arena TOIRO with 244 fans and supporters attending. The president of the club, Shigeru Suzuki, described the club’s overall plans and objectives for the 2016 season, while Development Director, Daiju Matsumoto, illustrated the top team’s aims, and Takeyuki Okamoto, Director of Youth Development, talked about the Academy. Marketing and compliance matters were explained by Marketing Director, Takeshi Kubota, and Administration Director, Kiyotaka Ogasawara. Many questions were asked during the Q&A session, and it was a valuable opportunity to exchange ideas and hear different voices.