The Top Team
All clubs in the Meiji Yasuda J2 League played their eighth match-up by April 19. Omiya Ardija stands in sixth place with 4 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws. GK Nobuhiro Kato and the defense line held the team together and made up for the injured FW Dragan Mrdja and MF Akihiro Ienaga, who have been missing from action due to injuries. The team shut out the opponent in four out of the eight matches played so far with its solid defense. After losing 0-2 to unbeaten Jef United Ichihara Chiba in Match 7, Mrdja and Ienaga returned to the frontline in the next game for the first time since the opening match and the team finished with a clean 3-0 win. Although Ardija hasn’t been able to gain back-to-back victories in these first eight matches, there has been no loss to a lower-ranked club, and overall it has been a good start to the season.
The “Prince Takamado Trophy: All Japan Youth (U-18) Premier Football League East” kicked off on April 11. Omiya Ardija’s youth team opened with a two-match draw with a 0-0 score against the Kashiwa Reysol U-18 and 1-1 against one of the top high-school contenders, Funabashi Municipal H.S. Not a bad start for Omiya, who has high hopes to win the championship. Meanwhile, the junior team participated in two major competitions at the end of March with promising results. In the “JA Zennoh Little Olympic Elementary School Children's 8-a-Side Football Tournament in Kanto,” Omiya finished among the final 8 teams. They advanced to the semifinals in the “Danone Nations Cup 2015 in Japan” and finished in third place for the second year in a row, though they didn’t make it to the world championship.
With 11 locations across Saitama Prefecture, the Omiya Ardija Soccer School held a graduation ceremony on March 29 prior to Match 4 against Consadore Sapporo at NACK5 Stadium Omiya. Kazuma Takayama, who graduated from the School in Kawagoe, attended the ceremony and delivered a message to the more than 100 school graduates. A new class for girls called the “Nadeshiko Class” opened on April 7 at the Lumine Omiya School, featuring coaches with extensive experience at the women’s top level Nadeshiko League.
Four clubs with their home stadium in the Tokyo area – Omiya Ardija, Jef United Ichihara Chiba, Tokyo Verdy, and Yokohama FC – are carrying out a joint promotion called, “Battle of the Four ‘J1... not!’ Clubs from the Greater Tokyo Area.” These four clubs currently playing in the J2 League are competing with each other both on and off the pitch to see which club excels in four areas: the sales of a special T-shirt that serves as a match ticket; the number of fans who attend away matches; the teams’ level of fair play; and the best mascot. Keiji Hirahata, a comedian and avid soccer fan who claims to be an expert of J2, was appointed ambassador of the Battle of Four promotion. Another special event that has been popular ever since it was first organized in 2007 and will be conducted again this year from May to December is the “Stretching Exercises for the Elderly.” The exercise classes will take place at 12 community centers in Saitama City.