Here's the Daily Yomiuri's distinctly positive preview for Omiya Ardija 2006...
Gamba Osaka and Urawa Reds were the talk of the town over the winter for all the signings they made. But quietly under the radar, Omiya Ardija shook up their team just as much. Omiya, which finished 13th last season, didn't sign a superstar like Shinji Ono or Akira Kaji, but it did sign a bundle of effective players who, once they figure each other out, should make a potent team.
"This is our second season in J1, but we do not plan on succumbing to the sophomore jinx," manager Toshiya Miura said. "With all the signings we made, we hope to crack the upper echelons of the league. "We will continue to play organized football, which Omiya has become known for. At the same time, I believe we will be able to attack more and I think we can show an improved Omiya Ardija team to catch up with the big clubs."
Yasuhiro Hato takes on Brazil
Starting at the back, the Saitama club swiped Yukio Tsuchiya and former Japan international Yasuhiro Hato from relegated Kashiwa Reysol. Tsuchiya is a tenacious centerhalf, and Hato will provide his new team plenty of pace down the right side. Ex-Vissel Kobe man Naoya Saeki and a pair of Kobayashis from Tokyo Verdy, Yoshiyuki and Daigo (no relation), join the midfield. Saeki was one of the few bright spots at Vissel last year, and both Kobayashis can create in the middle of the park. The issue with those two is not their talent, but how they fit into the rest of the group. Yoshiyuki, a native of Saitama, has always wanted to play at home and now he is getting the opportunity.
The 2005 Ardija strike force couldn't buy a goal, scoring 39 from the 34 league games. The man who was initially brought in to do the job, Christian, went home to Brazil after 18 matches and six goals. Omiya's top scorer for the year was the oft-injured Tuto, who had just seven goals. So Miura hit the market and bought two strikers who could earn a place in the starting XI on any team in the league: Kota Yoshihara formerly of Gamba and Saul Martinez from Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.
Kota Yoshihara in happier times at Gamba Osaka
Yoshihara, who does have one cap to his name, has been itching for regular football, having virtually been buried on the bench by manager Akira Nishino at Gamba. Barring injury, the 28-year-old Yoshihara should have every chance to secure a place in Miura's lineup, as he does have an instinct for scoring goals. Martinez will be a familiar name to some Japanese fans, as he was in the country in September as a member of the Honduras national team. While he did not score in the game, Martinez did wow the Miyagi crowd with flair and pace during the entertaining friendly, which Japan won 5-4. He spent the last four seasons at Shanghai, and was top scorer once in the league in 2003. A proven striker like the 30-year-old Martinez is exactly what Ardija need. "Everyone here is professional and passionate about soccer," Martinez said. "It just makes me want to compete harder, and I want to focus on doing my job, which is why I came here. I am ready." And so are Ardija.