Yokohama FC struggled at the beginning of the past season in J2, but things started to click when manager Takahiro Shimotaira took charge after Match-day 13. They registered 19 wins, seven draws and three losses in the following 29 matches, and finished second after Kashiwa Reysol, to earn a spot in J1 for the first time in 13 years.
In addition to young talents such as rookie Yusuke Matsuo, 18-year-old Koki Saito and new signing Kazunari Ichimi, their attacking department also features legendary veterans; 53-year-old Kazuyoshi Miura, 42-year-old Shunsuke Nakamura, 39-year-old Daisuke Matsui and 36-year-old Leandro Domingues.
In the opening match, they managed a 1-1 draw with Andreas Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe. Although the opponents were the dominant side, Yokohama FC picked up a point away from home, thanks to a solid defensive effort. Their last season in J1 ended with an immediate return to J2 and only four wins. This time, the combination of veteran and young talents under Shimotaira must be the key to avoid relegation.
The Japanese legend who played in Italy, Scotland and Spain turns 42 this year. Despite his age, the accuracy of his left foot is still intact, as shown in this season’s opening match.
The Brazilian right back joined Yokohama FC on loan from Kawasaki Frontale. He can produce chances with his powerful dribbling and precise crosses, and also shines in one-on-one defending. After an unsatisfactory season in 2019, he aims to redeem himself at his new club.