9. Kota Yoshihara - 吉原 宏太 - 02 Feb 1978 - 170cm / 66kg
The former Gamba and Sapporo striker moved to Omiya two years ago and has yet to convince that he can get the goals which the Squirrels so desperately need. 2006 was a disaster for Yoshihara, who picked up an injury pre-season and ended up making only a handful of starts in the latter stages of the campaign. Last year raised questions about his attitude and although he did end up as top scorer, the one-time international found the net only five times. Nevertheless looks set to begin 2008 as a first-team starter.
Signed for the Squirrels from Atletico Paranaense on a year's contract during the 2007 mid-season break. Performed well enough, is a clear talent and on occasions carved open opposition defences with jinking runs and insightful passing - but scored only twice, one of which was a penalty. Although arguably the most skilful player on the club's books, indications are that Denis may well end up on the subs' bench behind Kota Yoshihara and Pedro Junior.
13. Pedro Junior - ペドロ ジュニオール - 29 Jan 1987 - 182cm / 73kgLEFT 01 JUL 08 ON LOAN TO VILA NOVA UNTIL 31 DEC 08
Brazilian striker signed in mid-August 07. Made a handful of appearances, but seemed out of his depth and unable to make an impact in a side struggling to avoid relegation. Video evidence from his native country would nevertheless suggest Pedro has energy, pace and even - shock - an eye for goal. It would appear from pre-season that coach Yasuhiro Higuchi is giving strong consideration to the idea of starting with Pedro in the team and the youngster has set himself a target of fifteen goals in the year.
Since originally coming to Omiya from Niigata during the 2004 season has scored some vital goals, but always seems to offer too many examples of his limitations for the liking of many Ardija fans. Gets frustratingly few goals with his head for such a tall player and also poor at holding up play as a target man. Has been selected bewilderingly often by coaches Toshiya Miura, Robert Verbeek and Satoru Sakuma, but - at last - would appear to be heading for a year as a substitute.
16. Klemen Lavric - クレメン ラフリッチ - 12 Jun 1981 - 190cm / 80kg - JOINED 01 JUL 08
Slovenian international who moved to Omiya from German outfit MSV Duisburg in mid-2008, with a contract until the end of the calendar year. A replacement for the departed Pedro Junior, Lavric looks set to offer a real alternative up front as a big, strong centre forward, somewhat akin to 2007 transfer target John Aloisi. Interesting to see how he will tie up with the likes of Denis Marques and Kota Yoshihara.
Diminutive new forward signed along with midfielder Kohei Tokita from Hosei University. Looks set to be a reserve, but after the disaster of 2007 there is pressure on all the Squirrels' strikers to get goals when chances come along.
Brought from Verdy three years ago, like Chikara Fujimoto coming to the club to offer some top flight experience to the then J1 rookie Squirrels. An immediate hit, scoring the 2005 opener to set up a win at Gamba, the speedy Sakurai has subsequently had an injury-affected time with Omiya that has greatly restricted his contribution. Tends to shine in bigger games, but on the other hand can go missing when Ardija's under-pressure defence need reliable attacking outlets.
Rookie forward promoted from Omiya's successful 2007 youth team, for which he was top scorer. A pre-season foot injury will unfortunately keep Watabe out of contention during the early weeks of the 2008 season.