The Top Team
An event announcing the new Omiya Ardija organization for 2020 was held on January 10 at the Saitama Civic Hall Omiya with about 1,000 fans and supporters in attendance. New players were introduced, and all players were present when their numbers were announced. A huge round of applause came when Shunsuke Kikuchi, Atsushi Kurokawa, and Kanji Okunuki came onto the stage one after another. Kikuchi transferred from Shonan Bellmare and used to play on the junior youth team. Kurokawa, who played two seasons with Mito Hollyhock on a limited transfer, returns to Ardija and he will be wearing the number 10 jersey. Okunuki’s jersey number will change from 33 to 11 this season.
Head Coach Takuya Takagi announced this season’s slogan “WIN☆WIN” and pledged his determination to “compete with conviction”. The slogan comes from Takagi’s goal to score two goals and win the match, thus repeating “win” twice. Takagi’s objective is to see everyone involved with the club to share the same goal and reinforce their teamwork.
At the end of the event, Takagi and the players lined up on the stage and posed for a photo with the attending guests. It was a good start to the 2020 season for Ardija, whose goal is to win the J2 title and be promoted to J1.
The Omiya Ardija U18 team took part in the 2019 J.League International Youth Cup, which kicked off in the middle of December 2019.The competition is organized to offer players more international experience and to become more competitive. Four teams participated from the J.League clubs, and Ardija’s U18 finished top of the group in the group stage with 2 wins and 1 draw. They advanced to the final where they played against Ghana’s Right to Dream but was crushed and finished in second place.
Meanwhile, Omiya Ardija’s U15 team participated in the Prince Takamado Trophy JFA 31stt U-15 Japan Football Championship, held from mid to late December 2019. They advanced to the semifinal without conceding a single goal in three matches, but they lost to Gamba Osaka Junior Youth in the semis after a penalty shootout. They finished in third place.
Shin Kanazawa, who announced his retirement after completing the 2019 season, was appointed coach of the Development Headquarters Regional Produce Team and held a press conference at the clubhouse on January 8. Kanazawa was one of the first members of the youth team (current U18) that was inaugurated in 1999, and in 2002 he became the first player to be promoted to the top team from the Academy. Except for the 2006 and 2007 seasons when he played for Tokyo Verdy 1969 on a limited transfer, Kanazawa devoted 16 years to Omiya Ardija, playing 366 matches and scoring 14 goals. He holds the record for the number of matches played and is considered a legend of the club. Kanazawa thanked everyone during the press conference saying, “I consider myself very lucky that I played football all these years at my local club, Omiya Ardija. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone through my future activities for the club and in the community.”