JEF United will have the chance to defend their League Cup title, after seeing off Kawasaki Frontale in a dramatic semi-final second leg clash. With the scores locked at 2-2 deep into extra-time, captain Yuki Abe stepped up to convert a hotly disputed penalty which sealed JEF United’s place in the final.
Yokohama F. Marinos 2 – 1 Kashima Antlers
In the final JEF United will meet three time League Cup champions Kashima Antlers, who saw off Yokohama F. Marinos. Holding a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, Kashima advanced on the away goals rule after losing 2-1 in Yokohama on the night. Atsushi Yanagisawa scored the crucial goal for the Antlers.
Japan National Teams
Gamba Osaka striker Ryuji Bando may be in line for a Data Sgp call up to Ivica Osim’s squad for the Kirin World Challenge match against Ghana in Yokohama on October 4. Bando scored again at the weekend, taking his tally to 14 goals from 23 J-League games this season. He is the highest scoring Japanese player in the J-League. Japan’s strikers have scored just twice in four games under Osim – both times as substitutes.
Japan’s under-17 national team were crowned Asian champions on September 17. They came back from a two goal deficit to defeat DPR Korea 4-2 after extra-time at the AFC Under-17 Championship Final in Singapore. Substitute Hiroki Kawano was the hero, scoring a brace in extra-time. Cerezo Osaka’s Yoichiro Kakitani, who also scored in the final, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Japan have now qualified for the FIFA under-17 World Cup, along with fellow Asian nations DPR Korea, Syria and Tajikistan.
Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com
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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2006
Marc Fox talks exclusively to Scot Gemmill for Soccerphile
Former Nottingham Forest and Everton schemer Scot Gemmill is the latest former Premier League player to succumb to the growing temptation of prolonging his career with a stint down under. For Gemmill, the location is Auckland on New Zealand’s north island, home of the Knights, last season’s wooden-spooners.
But whereas in times past, playing ‘soccer’ in an Australian league would have signalled your intentions to wind down in the sunshine, the newly refreshed Hyundai A-League is prompting quite the opposite.
Gemmill’s move to New Zealand on a one-year-deal was based on pure footballing reasons and ended up being a straight swap between that and life in England, or Scotland’s lower leagues.
Following over 250 Premier League appearances with Forest and Everton, the 35-year-old’s most recent employers were Oxford United in League Two where he had been enticed by the opportunity of working under managerial legend Jim Smith in a player-coach capacity.
But within a fortnight of arriving at the relegation-threatened club, he soon realised that, by his own admission, his heart wasn’t in it. By then discussions with Knights boss Paul Nevin, who was well aware of Gemmill after eight years in the employment of Fulham including reserve team coach, were already underway.
“I just wanted to come down here and experience living abroad but still doing what I love to do,” explains Gemmill. “To come to the other side of the world and live a different life but at the same time play football, I really couldn’t have asked for more.
“There are thousands of footballers that would love to come and play in the A-League but they don’t all get the opportunity. I keep saying it but I do realise how lucky I am, I really do.
Dwight Yorke was the first well-known player to take a risk by accepting terms with eventual champions Sydney FC last year. Yorke eventually fought his way back into first-team reckoning with Trinidad and Tobago, captained his country at the World Cup and last month was offered the chance of another two year’s in England at Roy Keane’s Sunderland.
But he is not the only one. Before the second season started at the end of August, current Socceroos Stan Lazaridis, Tony Vidmar and Joel Griffiths all returned home while former Australian national team captain Paul Okon also made the switch. Dutch winger Bobby Petta has linked up with the premiers Adelaide United, former China international striker Yuning Zhang with Queensland and Grant Brebner joined Melbourne.
In the latest Socceroos squad, eight of the 26 players selected by interim coach Graham Arnold call the A-League home.
“Without doubt there are some great players,” Gemmill responds without hesitation to the question of the league’s standing. “There are some standout individuals in each team and the level is high. That’s something people around the world don’t realise yet. But they will do when the league gets the chance to grow.”
The Scotsman has just landed in Brisbane ahead of New Zealand’s round four clash with the Roar at Suncorp Stadium when we chat. He admits he’s still coming to terms with the players being greeted by stony silences when they disembark and retells a story of how one man, noticing the tracksuited players leaving the arrivals lounge, innocently asking what the A-League to prove his point.
“It’s weird when somebody doesn’t know what the A-League is,” he says. “If I’m being honest, nobody knows me really and I’m fine with that. I mean in England I lived the normal life. I’m not a recognised famous face – I don’t pretend to be.
“I’m very grateful to be given a chance to part of it. I could easily be at home unemployed right now if I’m honest. I’m at that age where I’m just grateful to be still playing and I intend to repay the manger’s faith by playing my part in the team. He’s given me a chance to come down and play and I don’t want to let him down.
“I haven’t got any pressure on me from supporters to do well. But I feel I put myself under pressure. I’ve had a good career, I’m extremely proud of what I’ve achieved and I don’t want to spoil it now. I’m not under any financial pressures. If I really thought I couldn’t play my part in the team, I wouldn’t be here.”