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The J1 opening day is around the corner! Let’s look at the key players of all teams! (Yokohama FC, Kashiwa, Shonan)

Wed, 19 Feb 2020 - 07:15 JST
The J1 opening day is around the corner!  Let’s look at the key players of all teams! (Yokohama FC, Kashiwa, Shonan)

The 2020 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League kicks off on February 21.
Ahead of the opening day, let’s look at the key player of all 18 teams.

In this first installment, we look at the two newly-promoted sides as well as Shonan Bellmare, the team that finished at the 16th place last season.

■Yokohama FC
Achievements in 2019
J2: 2nd place (Promoted to J1)
Levain Cup: Did not participate

・Player to watch
MF 46 Shunsuke Nakamura
The Japanese legend is known well around the globe as a great free-kicks taker, and scored twice against Manchester United when he played for Celtic (Scotland). Even though he is now 41, his excellent passing and accurate free-kicks’ skills are intact. There are some concerns over his condition, but we are likely to see him play against Iniesta on the opening day!

■Kashiwa Reysol
Achievements in 2019
J2: 1st place (Promoted to J1)
Levain Cup: Group Stage

・Player to watch
FW 14 Olunga
A Kenyan international striker who boasts incredible physical attributes. J2 defenders could not handle his aerial strength and speed last season. In a historical performance, in the past season he scored 8 goals in one game against Kyoto Sanga on the final match-day proving that he is more than ready to succeed in J1.

■Shonan Bellmare
Achievements in 2019
J1: 16th place
Levain Cup: Group Stage

・Player to watch
MF 16 Mitsuki Saito
A “midfield dynamo” who could be a star of the Tokyo Olympics this summer as part of U-23 Japan. He wins balls, has seemingly endless stamina and great reading of the game. Another of his skills are speeding up the attack with accurate passes to the forwards. He plays an important role both in defense and offence and often displays powerful long shots.