Got off to a dreadful start to the 2007 season when his mistake led to Bare stealing a late winner in the opening game at Gamba Osaka - and never seemed to recover from that. Still was able to hang on to his place in the starting line-up alongside Yoshiyuki Kobayashi in the centre of midfield, but fans would argue that the ex-Kokushikan University student proved to be a weak link. Nevertheless appears likely to continue as a first teamer in 2008.
Has had what amounts to a stop / stop career since moving to Omiya prior to the 2006 season, when defensive midfielder Saeki took a loan deal at Avispa Fukuoka in order to pick up some playing time. Was a bit luckier last year and did actually turn out for the Squirrels in 17 league matches, but he has been conspicuous by his absence in pre-season and one must therefore assume that an unexplained injury is playing its part in Saeki being on the sidelines yet again.
Attacking midfielder always seeking to make the pinpoint killer pass, in 2006 was the team's main attacking option as the strikers themselves failed to take responsibility and Chikara Fujimoto had an injury-hit season. Became the club's first-ever full Japanese international and thus guaranteed legendary status, but Daigo himself was struck down by a niggling back injury in 2007 and he was half the player as a result. Squirrels supporters will be hoping that this year sees a return to fitness and form for the most talented player at the club.
Made 2007 captain by coach Robert Verbeek, left-sided midfield man Fujimoto had more responsibility on his shoulders than in his previous two years at the club - and turned out to be perhaps the biggest let-down of the squad's senior players. A desperately disappointing campaign saw him chip in with barely one assist and two goals, a lack of contribution made all the more significant due to Daigo Kobayashi's injury. No longer captain and it's hoped that Chikara will have greater freedom to express himself as a consequence.
Hard to imagine an Omiya squad without Saito, with the club as an amateur since the JFL days of 1998 and still technically an NTT employee. Calm, reliable and a notably intelligent footballer, he may not have the profile of other squad members but can be counted on to do a composed job in the centre of midfield or the back four. Will doubtless make a good number of appearances as a starting member or from the subs' bench throughout the season.
Hashimoto was first given a run in the side in late 2006 thanks mainly to Chikara Fujimoto's injury. Left-sided midfield player with a good cross and a fine line in free kicks, he actually emerged as one of the stars of the season and more or less forced then boss Toshiya Miura into keeping him in the side after the recovery of Fujimoto. But Hashimoto slipped out of contention last year and was clearly lacking in confidence when he did get first-team playing time. Pre-season friendlies would indicate he's not likely to feature too much in 2008, either.
Popular with the fans, having made his way through the Omiya youth set-up and then turning out for the first team between 2002 and 2005, Kanazawa now returns to the club after two years on loan at Verdy. A central midfielder who played a key role in the Squirrels' 2004 promotion campaign, he will potentially see action this time around when the likes of Yoshiyuki Kobayashi and Masato Saito are unavailable.
A rookie in 2007, promoted from Omiya Youth. Kawanabe went on to make just one first-team appearance in the Nabisco Cup and unsurprisingly appeared nervous playing in a side short on confidence. Whether he can fight for a place following the arrival of U19 international star Takuya Aoki remains to be seen.
A central or right-sided midfield player who joins from Yokohama FC, Uchida is Ardija's chief signing over the winter. Impressive in pre-season, he provides some flexibility by allowing star man Daigo Kobayashi to play in the middle for a more creative and attacking approach. He might not start, given that he mainly plays in Daigo's position, but hopes are high that the diminutive Uchida can be a key player.
28. Kohei Tokita - 土岐田 洸平 - 16 Mar 1986 - 176cm / 72kg - NEW
Perhaps the most exciting of the batch of ex-university and high school players that Omiya have snapped up, Tokita is a goalscoring midfielder who as a youngster turned out for Mitsubishi Yowa before going on to attend Hosei University. As such, he's typical of the sort of squad member that Ardija fans want to see and that the club more broadly need to be a success. The Squirrels need some dynimism and Tokita off the bench might be the man to provide it.
After a patchy frst season at Omiya in 2006, Yoshiyuki Kobayashi was one of the rare success stories of last season and he goes in to 2008 as Yasuhiro Higuchi's captain. A lynchpin in midfield who worked hard to get forward whenever possible, he stunned into silence a Saitama Stadium packed with Urawa Reds fans with a calmly taken finish that exemplified his controlled, thoughtful approach. Yoshiyuki is now a key player and needs to take on the role of leader with which his predecessor as skipper, Chikara Fujimoto, seemed so uncomfortable.
Just eighteen and the youngest of Omiya's new squad members. Aoki spent part of his winter in Qatar, driving the Japan U19 international side to victory over the likes of Poland and Germany. Some Squirrels supporters are already talking of the Gunma boy as potentially Ardija's first real star player and while it's probably unlikely that he'll get many first team starts this year, the expectation is that Aoki can bring much to the team.