The Top Team
The Omiya Ardija top team is making good headways toward returning to J1 in one year. After a bitter 0-2 defeat in Match 20 against Tokyo Verdy, Ardija marked eight consecutive victories, of which five were shutouts, demonstrating a good team balance in offense and defense. Though defeated 1-3 by Ehime FC in Match 29, Ardija continued to maintain its top position in the J2 league with a 16-point lead over second place Jubilo Iwata and 18 points ahead of third place Tokyo Verdy. Ardija is not wallowing in its league leader position. The team is giving detailed attention to every play in anticipation for the tough competition when they return to J1.
Leading the top-form team is Akihiro Ienaga, who was awarded the “Meiji Yasuda J2 League Coca Cola Monthly MVP” for the months of June and July. Ienaga played four matches in June and scored 1 goal, while in July he played six matches and had 3 goals and 1 assist. It was the first time a player was selected for this MVP award two months in a row.
The Omiya Ardija Youth was the runner-up at the 39th Japan Club Youth (U-18) Football Championship. In the preliminary round the Ardija Youth finished second place in their highly competitive group. They went on to defeat Kawasaki Frontale 4-1 in the Round of 16, conquered the quarterfinal and semifinal and advanced to the final, where they lost 3-5 and regrettably saw the championship title slip away through their hands.
After the Club Youth Championship, the Ardija Youth travelled to the Netherlands to participate in the Otten Cup. Going up against the world’s top level teams, including RSC Anderlecht ( Belgium), PSV Eindhoven (the Netherlands), and FC Barcelona (Spain), the Ardija Youth finished sixth out of eight teams.
Meanwhile, youth member Atsushi Kurokawa was selected to the U-17 Japan National Team for their tour to the Czech Republic, and travelled directly from the Netherlands to join the team.
On August 2 and 3, Omiya Ardija organized the Soccer School Summer Camp 2015 for the students attending the soccer school. A lottery was held to choose the 80 participants in third and fourth grade. The first day of the camp opened with various activities that took place in the natural surroundings. Participants spent the second day playing football all day long and having fun with their pals at the NTT Tonan Soccer Ground.
On Wednesday, September 23, which is a national holiday, the top team will play Match 33 against Tokyo Verdy at Ajinomoto Stadium. Prior to the match, Ardija’s and Verdy’s soccer school students who attend kindergarten will play a friendly match. Another friendly will take place on Sunday, September 27, prior to Match 34 against JEF United Ichihara Chiba between the teams’ fifth and sixth grade soccer school students.
A joint support effort between Omiya Ardija and the professional baseball team, the Saitama Seibu Lions, was carried out for the first time in three years. Titled “AxL (ALE) Omiya,” ticket discounts and exclusive items were offered at the home games of both teams held in August.
A series of festivals are organized during the summer in front of the east and west sides of Omiya Station: the “Heisei Hiroba Festival,” the “Spark Carnival,” and the “Nakasendo Festival” or jointly referred to as the Omiya Summer Festival 2015. Omiya Ardija’s mascots, Ardy and Miya, represented the club and took part in these events, reinforcing the relationship with the community.
For the purpose of promoting disabled sports, the “8th Omiya Ardija ORANGE! HAPPY!! SMILE CUP!!!” was organized on August 1 and 2. 15 teams and approximately 320 players/staff gathered from all over Saitama Prefecture and enjoyed the heated competition. Team Sakura captured its third consecutive title.