The content includes my personal subjectivity.
This is just a forecast, so please consider it as a reference.
(The contents are as of January 30, 2022)
The J2 League will open on February 19 and 20, and the main feature of the J2 League is the promotion system. Last season, Jubilo Iwata and Kyoto Sanga were promoted to J1. There are many people who are wondering which teams will be promoted this season. In this article, we will introduce you to the J2 promotion candidates and the promotion system.
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J2: What is the promotion system for 2022?
Before we introduce the promotion candidates, let’s first take a look at this season’s promotion system.
There will be three promotion slots in J2 this season, with two slots reserved for the first and second place teams. The other two slots will be filled by a playoff between the 3rd through 6th place teams in J2 and the 16th place team in J1, with the winner of the J2 playoff playing the 16th place team in J1, who will play in J1 in 2023. This means that a minimum of two and a maximum of three teams from J2 will be promoted to J1 this season.
V. Farren Nagasaki
The first team is V. Farren Nagasaki. Nagasaki is not only a candidate for promotion, but is also the leading candidate to win the championship. There are three reasons why Nagasaki is a promotion and championship candidate.
The first is the presence of foreign helpers. In addition to Edigar Junio, who scored 15 goals last season, and Caio César, who scored 4 goals, Cristiano joined from Kashiwa Reysol in J1 this season. Cristiano scored 7 goals and had 3 assists in J1 last season, and in J2 in 2019, he scored 19 goals and had 18 assists. With the addition of this foul-mouthed player, the team is head and shoulders above the rest.
The second reason is that the coach and the main players have been retained, allowing the team to maintain last season’s lineup. Nagasaki’s only major loss will be right back Maikuma. Asahi Uenaka, who scored 10 goals last season, and Ken Tokura, who scored 7 goals, also remain in the team. Nagasaki scored 69 goals last season, the second most in the J2 League. The fact that their main players have stayed means that they are likely to be able to maintain this attacking power. While some teams are building a new team under a new coach, being able to maintain the base of last season’s team will be a plus.
The third is the results of the last two years. Nagasaki’s ranking was 3rd in 2020 and 4th in 2021. If there is a playoff system, this is a position where they can fight for promotion to J1. In view of the fact that they have been performing consistently well in recent years, we can assume that they will not suffer a major collapse.
With such good results in recent years and their outstanding strength, Nagasaki is considered by many to be the favorite this season.
Key players of V. Farren Nagasaki
The key player for Nagasaki will be newcomer Cristiano. If Cristiano can build on last season’s offensive performance, Nagasaki will be hard to stop. It will be interesting to see how Cristiano fits into the team.
The second team is Oita Trinita. There are three reasons why I have listed Trinita in my promotion predictions.
There is a big difference between J1 and J2, as some teams are promoted from J2 and relegated within a year. Trinita spent three years in J1, two of which were in the middle of the table. Although they were relegated last season, they were runners-up in the Emperor’s Cup, defeating Kawasaki Frontale. This experience in J1 is an advantage for teams that have been relegated.
The second is the retention of the mainstay of the team, which often happens when a team is relegated to J2. However, Trinita has retained many of its mainstays, such as goalkeeper and captain Takagi, defender Misao, and last season’s top scorer Machida. In other words, the members who have fought in J1 are still there. This will make the aforementioned advantage even stronger.
Third, there is a new coach. Trinita’s long-time coach Katanosaka has retired, and Shimodaira will take charge from this season. In 2017, he led Kashiwa Reysol to fourth place in J1. In 2017, he led Kashiwa Reysol to fourth place in J1, and in 2019, he led Yokohama FC to promotion and won the J2 Manager of the Year award. Of course, the hole left by Katanosaka is a big one. But given his track record, Shimodaira is likely to be able to fill the void.
For these reasons, I expect Oita Trinita to come out on top, despite the change of coach.
Key players of Oita Trinita
The key players are the newly appointed coach Shimodaira and the newly recruited helpers. The new coach has some concerns about the tactics that need to be instilled in the team. In particular, since coach Shimodaira is a tactician who plays possession, the key point will be how quickly he can perfect Shimodaira soccer.
Also, Trinita scored the lowest number of goals in J1 last season. Newcomer Samuel, a Brazilian, will be expected to help them with their scoring problem.
The third team is Yokohama FC. Like Nagasaki, Yokohama FC is one of the candidates for the championship. There are two reasons why Yokohama FC is a promotion and championship candidate.
The first is that, like Oita Trinita, they have the advantage of having competed in J1 last season. Yokohama FC competed in J1 for two years, in 2020 and 2021, and although there was no promotion/relegation system in 2020, they finished 15th, which would have been enough to stay in the competition even if there was. They also drew 2-2 with league leaders Marinos at the end of last season, and won 2-1 against Kashima. Although they finished in the bottom half of the table, they have the ability to compete with the top teams in J1.
The second is the presence of strong helpers. Yokohama FC’s team improved a bit last season after foreign players joined the team in the summer. The team has renewed the contracts of those foreign players. One of them is Saulo Mineiro. He joined the team in the middle of last season and scored four goals in eleven games, and since he is good enough to play in J1, we expect him to play well in J2 as well.
With such a strong supporting cast, Yokohama FC will likely come out on top and compete for the championship.
Key players of Yokohama FC
The key man for Yokohama FC is their new coach Shuhei Yomoda, who was the manager of Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo from 2015 to 2017 and the coach from 2018 to last season. During his time as coach of Sapporo, he led the team to promotion by winning the J2 championship. It will be interesting to see how his experience as a coach of Sapporo’s Mihailovic for four years from 2018 will play out at Yokohama FC.
JEF United Chiba
The fourth team is JEF United Chiba. There are two reasons why I have listed JEF as a candidate for promotion.
The first is their strong performance in the second half of last season. JEF did not lose any of their 13 games from the 30th to the last week of last season, a record of 8 wins and 5 draws. This is the same record as Jubilo Iwata who won the championship. Some people who watched JEF say that JEF in the second half of last season was capable of competing in J1.
The second is the continuation of the Yoon Jong-Hwan coaching system. This means that the team will be able to continue to build on the success they showed in the second half of last season. Yoon Jeong-hwan is a good defensive coach, and he won two Cup titles with Cerezo Osaka in 2017 using a solid defense. Last season, JEF also showed a solid defense, conceding 36 goals, the second most in the J2 League. If they can maintain this defensive strength and score more goals, they may be able to reach the playoffs and even the automatic promotion zone.
JEF United Chiba’s key players
The key players for JEF are Tomoya Miki and Hiroya Kazama. Miki is the team’s top scorer with 14 goals last season. Kazama is a midfielder who joined the team from Ryukyu and finished 5th in the assist ranking with 9 assists last season. The key will be whether Miki’s double-digit goals and Kazama’s assists can revitalize JEF’s attack.
The fifth team is Montedio Yamagata. There are two reasons why I have listed them as a promotion candidate.
The first is their solid reinforcement. This off-season, Montedio lost their main players, MF Hikaru Nakahara and FW Vinicius. However, they have been able to fill in some of the missing positions with players such as MF Aragaki from Kitakyushu and FW Fujimoto, who scored 10 goals for Ehime last season. The loss of Vinicius, who scored 14 goals last season, and Nakahara, who had 8 assists, is certainly painful, but my impression of Montedio is that they are making solid reinforcements.
The second is the manager and coach. Montedio has been under the direction of coach Cklamovski since the middle of last season. Although he took over in the middle of the season, he led the team from a lowly position to the top of the league with seven consecutive wins and no losses in 12 games. The team stalled a bit towards the end of the season and finished in 7th place, which was a good result considering the fact that he took over in the middle of the season.
This season, in addition to being able to start with a solid base, Susumu Watanabe has joined the team as coach. Mr. Watanabe spent six seasons in the J1 stage with Vegalta Sendai from 2014 to 2019. This means that Montedio has two people who can work as coaches. It is said that his tactical orientation is also close to that of coach Cklamovski. Therefore, it is expected that they will be able to further improve the perfection of the team.
If the solid reinforcements work for the team and the high-level coach and manager can build a sophisticated team, a breakthrough is possible.
Key players of Yamagata Montedio
The key man for Montedio is coach Kramovsky. As mentioned above, they were studied by the opposing team in the last half of last season, and in the last six games, they won one game, lost four, and drew one. It will be interesting to see how they overcome their opponents’ countermeasures and whether they can recover from their stalling in the last half of the season.
The sixth team is Fasiano Okayama. There are three reasons why Fasiano is a candidate for promotion.
The first is their defensive hardness. Last season, Fasiano was ranked 11th, but they scored 36 goals, which was the second highest in the league. If they can maintain this solid defense, they will not fall far behind.
The second is their performance at the end of last season. In the last 10 games of the season, Fasiano’s record was 6 wins, 1 loss, and 3 draws. Also, in the 19 games from the 24th to the last game, they lost only two, which is almost unbeatable. If we can maintain this momentum and win the many draws we had last season, we will be able to move up the table.
The third is a major reinforcement: despite the outflow of FW Uekado, we have acquired FW Thiago Alves from Gamba Osaka. In addition, we added two new players, DF Jordy Buijs from Kyoto Sanga, who played 41 games last season, and DF Yasutaka Yanagi from Tochigi SC. Both of these players are top class defenders in J2. These two are two of the best defenders in J2, so they are expected to boost Okayama’s solid defense. Yanagi and Jordy Buijs scored 8 and 5 goals, respectively, last season, so we can expect them to be good scorers.
They may be a dark horse team, but if their reinforcements are successful, they could advance to the top of the table.
Fasiano Okayama’s key players
The key man for Fasiano Okayama is their new coach, Kiyama. He has worked as a coach at Montedio Yamagata and Vegalta Sendai, and has been coaching at Gamba Osaka since the middle of last season. Can maintain the solid defense of last season, and can quickly incorporate the tactics, this area depends on the coach Kiyama.
The teams listed above are just predictions, so there is a good chance that teams not listed here will be included. J2 is said to be a more magical place than J1, so when you watch J2, keep an eye out for these teams to see how far they can go.