Omiya Ardija Youth are making excellent progress towards the First Round proper of this season's Emperor's Cup competition. The organisation of the tournament is such that all the matches currently being played are at prefectural level, and as such the Young Squirrels are involved in a series of games to decide Saitama's single sub-J-League representative. On holiday Monday, 16th July, they beat Heisei International University 5-3 on penalties after a 2-2 draw, followed at the weekend by a 3-2 after-extra-time win over Shobi University.
This success sees the team through to the last four of the Saitama competition. They are due to play experienced Kanto League side Luminozo Sayama - who in the last round beat Toda City outfit FC Passionate 7-0 - in the semi-finals on 19th August. A further win will see them through to the prefectural final against either Yonoshukonkai or Saitama SC, both also members of the Kanto League.
Ardija Youth prepare for their big cup run
If the Youth team battle that far, they will be able to take part in the First Round of the national tournament, in which the Saitama representatives are already scheduled to play the winners of the equivalent prefectural competition from Iwate - probably Tohoku Leaguers Grulla Morioka or conceivably even FC Ganju Iwate, now the team of ex-Squirrel reserve keeper Kenji Tanaka. The JFA have up to now confirmed the details of the draw to the third round stage, when the J2 teams enter the competition and Tokyo Verdy 1969 will stand in the way of further progress.