East Asia Japan

King Kazu and Kawin Get J.League Cup Bows

Legendary Yokohama FC striker Kazuyoshi Miura and Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo’s Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan earned themselves valuable playing minutes as they were named in their respective clubs’ starting lineups on Wednesday night’s J.League Cup action. 53-year old Kazuyoshi saw out a majority of the action as his Yokohama FC side beat hosts Sagan Tosu 1-0 at the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium, while Kawin played the full 90 minutes as his Consadole side edged out Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2-1 at the Sapporo Dome.

Having been born on the same year as current Liverpool head coach Jurgen Klopp and Italian legend Roberto Baggio, Kazuyoshi, affectionately known as “King Kazu” by Japanese football fans, is on his 35th year as a professional footballer. Age, fatigue, and injuries meant that the once formidable journeyman striker did not see much action in recent seasons, however Kazuyoshi was named by Yokohama FC head coach Takahiro Shimotaira in his starting line up for Wednesday’s clash against Tosu. The J.League Cup provide opportunities for head coaches to start their fringe players and Yokohama FC was no exception, hence allowing King Kazu to taste his first competitive action of the 2020 season.

By taking the pitch against Tosu, Kazuyoshi officially became the oldest player to ever play in the competition, beating the previous record set by Ventforet Kofu’s Yukio Tsuchiya in 2017. Tsuchiya’s record stood at 42 years and 10 months, while Kazuyoshi was 53 years old, 5 months, and 10 days when he was named in the starting lineup on Wednesday – a record that would surely stood for years to come.

King Kazu enjoyed an hour’s worth of game time, manning Yokohama FC’s attack alongside 24-year old Yuki Kusano, his junior by 29 years. In fact, Kusano was born during the first golden era of Kazuyoshi’s career, when he made 192 appearances and scored 100 league goals for Verdy Kawasaki (now Tokyo Verdy). The scores were still balanced at 0-0 when Kazuyoshi made his exit in the 63rd minute – with Shimotaira replacing the veteran with 22-year old striker Kazunari Ichimi, who, like Kusano, was born during Kazuyoshi’s golden tenure with Verdy.

It wasn’t until injury time that Yokohama FC broke the deadlock, with a late goal from Yuji Senuma ensuring the three points for Yokohama FC. But at the end of the day, it was King Kazu’s hour-long performance on the Ekimae Real Estate Stadium pitch that would make an impression that lasted longer than the result itself.

Meanwhile, at the Sapporo Dome, Thai international Kawin finally got the nod by Consadole head coach Mihailo Petrovic, having been playing second fiddle to Takanori Sugeno and the now departed Gu Sung-yun throughout the 2020 season. Kawin’s Thai teammate Chanathip Songkrasin was rested for Wednesday’s showdown against Sanfrecce, having played the full 90 minutes during Consadole’s last match, a 3-2 home defeat at the hands of Vissel Kobe in the league over the weekend.

Kawin, who was on loan at Consadole from Belgian side OH Leuven, played the entirety of the match against Sanfrecce that ended 2-1 in favor of Consadole. The Northerners scored first through Takuro Kaneko in the 14th minute, before Yuya Asano equalizes things for Sanfrecce in the 22nd minute. Brazilian striker Douglas Oliveira became Consadole’s hero in the 61st minute as he scored the winning goal for the hosts, ensuring that Kawin’s debut bow for Consadole would end on a sweet note.

Other results from Matchweek 2 of the J.League Cup saw hosts Cerezo Osaka edging out Urawa Red Diamonds 1-0, while a spirited performance from Kashima Antlers was not enough to turn the game around as they went down at home 3-2 at the hands of defending J.League Cup champions Kawasaki Frontale, who continue their blistering start to the season. Oita Trinita and Gamba Osaka played out a 1-1 draw at the Showa Denko Dome, while Kashiwa Reysol earned themselves a 1-0 home victory over Shonan Bellmare.

Last but not least, Thai international Teerasil Dangda started and played for an hour as his Shimizu S-Pulse side were crushed 3-0 at home by Nagoya Grampus.