While the J.League has enjoyed great success in the quarter-century since its inception, the fact remains that these are still very young teams. They lack the history and political undertones that push many fans to other games in their current form. World football swears allegiance to a particular team. However, what will not change is the number of young talents that continue to roll off the production line at various clubs year after year and who arguably make Asia’s top national competition one of Asia’s funniest leagues.
Arguably the best Asian national competition, the Japanese J.League kicked off its 29th season with an expanded format of up to 20 teams for the first time in its history. FIFA 17 features Japan’s top professional soccer league for the first time in the series’ history, another sign that Konami has lost interest in developing console video games.
Just 25 years after establishing Japan’s first professional organisation, the Japan Professional Football League, which started as a single division of eight clubs, has now grown into a three-division league with 54 teams. Japan may not be the first country that comes to mind for significant football powers, but with 54 clubs to choose from and the overall “feel good” factor currently present during a great game here, it’s probably more did not have. It was the best time to join the J.League. Since Arsène Wenger’s role as a pioneer coach among Japanese fans, Nagoya Grampus, the J1 League has welcomed several foreigners in its illustrious 24-year history.
Sydney FC’s first success came at the start of the A-League when they won the 2005 Australian Championship and became Oceania champions, earning a place at the 2005 Club World Cup in Japan, where they finished 5th. In 1965, the Toyo Kogyo Football Club became the first team in Japanese history to win both the championship and the Emperor’s Cup and the first team to go undefeated in an entire national season. Initially founded in 1955 as Fujitsu FC, Kawasaki Frontale has a regular presence in the Kanto Football League and the Japan Football League.
The Japan Football League was based in Yokohama and gave Japanese professional football its first official derby. Professionalism opened up the Japan Football League to foreign players, and many teams in Japan sought help from overseas, signing the best international stars of their day.
The biggest threat to defending champion Kawasaki Frontale may come from the league’s most storied club, the Kashima Antlers, who have won three national championships 19 times in total — succumbing to the firepower of Ayase Ueda and Everardo. As the defending J1 league champions, Kawasaki Frontale is the best team in Japan, at least on paper.