Nadeshiko League kicks off with big results

Nadeshiko League kicks off with big results

By Tiago Bontempo

The 2012 edition of the Japanese women’s football league, better known as Nadeshiko League, started with few surprises besides the high scorelines in most matches.

18-year-old forward Mai Kyokawa scores twice on her Nadeshiko League debut PHOTO: Nikkan Sports

Most of the title favorites had easy wins while the less-rated teams struggled and suffered heavy losses.

The results from the opening round were as follows:

Albirex Niigata Ladies 3-0 Iga FC Kunoichi
INAC Kobe Leonessa 7-0 Speranza FC Osaka Takatsuki
NTV Beleza 5-0 Fukuoka J. Anclas
AS Elfen Sayama FC 0-5 Urawa Red Diamonds Ladies
Okayama Yunogo Belle 2-1 JEF United Ladies

In the league opener, two mid-table bound teams competed in Niigata as the home side had the edge with a comfortable 3-0 win over Iga FC Kunoichi courtesy of an own goal and a brace by Sayaka Oishi.

Of the top-four clubs, Yunogo Belle had the hardest time of them all. Chihiro Nakagawa and Saori Arimachi scored for Belle while Nodoka Hosaka accounted for the lone reply of JEF United Ladies. National Team star Aya Miyama provided the assist for both Belle goals.

Last years third placed team, Urawa Reds, cruised over fellow Saitama-based AS Elfen Sayama in a 5-0 rout. Goals to Akiko Niwata, Eriko Arakawa, Kira Chinatsu [x2] and Yuki Yasuda gave the Reds the perfect start to the season.

The same score saw last year’s runner-up, NTV Beleza, dominate against Fukuoka J. Anclas, with goals to Asano Nagasato [x2], Azusa Iwashimizu, Kanako Ito and Mina Tanaka).

As if they wanted to make a statement as to who is the big show in town, current champions of both league and cup and unbeaten since 2010, INAC Kobe Leonessa scored the biggest victory of the opening weekend.

Even with national team star, and FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, Homare Sawa sitting on the bench for 90 minutes (Sawa has still not fully recovered from the vertigo which kept her away from recent National Team matches), no fewer than seven goals (Ji So-Yun, Shinobu Ohno, Megumi Takase, Mai Kyokawa [x2], Nahomi Kawasumi and Junko Kai) put the Leonessas on top of the table and provided a less than warm welcome for league newcomers Osaka Takatsuki.

There is only one question yet to be answered:can anyone stop INAC Kobe?

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