While five teams remain in the hunt for the 2008 J. League crown, several of the league’s most recognisable clubs are in serious trouble at the wrong end of the table.
There’s an epic relegation six-pointer at Ecopa Stadium in Round 25, where three-times J. League champions Jubilo Iwata host another three-time champion in the form of Yokohama F. Marinos.
Jubilo sacked coach Atsushi Uchiyama Judi Onlen after a recent scoreless draw at home to JEF United and replaced him with veteran tactician Hans Ooft, but the Dutchman’s second spell in charge of Jubilo got off to a shaky start when the Shizuoka outfit were beaten 2-0 away at Kyoto Sanga FC, with striker Gilsinho missing a penalty for the visitors.
Yokohama F. Marinos also had a change of coach mid-season, but Kokichi Kimura is yet to find a winning combination after taking over from Takashi Kuwahara – ironically a former Jubilo man. Marinos needed a last-minute own goal from Leandro to eke out a 1-1 draw at home to Vissel Kobe last time out, and both teams will be desperate for the three points on offer, with Jubilo currently occupying the relegation/promotion playoff place on 26 points, as they look to leapfrog fifteenth placed Yokohama F. Marinos, who are on 27 points.
Looking to make up ground on the promotion/relegation playoff place are JEF United. One of just six teams to have played every season in the Japanese top flight, the Chiba side gave themselves renewed hope of avoiding the drop by beating Tokyo Verdy 2-0 at home last weekend.
Alex Miller’s side may be second-from-bottom, but they take on last placed Consadole Sapporo in Hokkaido in Round 25, with Consadole yet to win a league game at their summer home Atsubetsu Stadium this season.
Australian defender Eddy Bosnar remains confident that his team can stay up, and the Sydney-born stopper has made plenty of sacrifices for the cause, turning down an opportunity to represent his country in favour of focussing on his club’s relegation dogfight.
“He (Australia manager Pim …