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Engels sets survival target for Kyoto

By Jeremy Walker
 TOKYO (June 27)--Kyoto Purple Sanga's new German manager, Gert Engels, believes his team must win no fewer than half their remaining matches to stay in the J.League's first division.
Engels, who was promoted from head coach when previous manager Shu Kamo was dismissed after the first stage, thinks Sanga will be safe if they can reach a target of 31 points.
 So far they have 10 from 16 games, meaning they must win at least seven of their remaining 14 to escape the drop.
 Engels said: "Last season, Urawa Reds went down on goal difference with 28 points, but I think it's going to take more than that to stay up this time.
"I would say we need to win seven or eight games over the course of the second stage, and I think it's possible because we have no injuries and there's good spirit and communication in the squad."  Engels made a perfect start in his first match as manager when the second stage kicked off last Saturday.
 Sanga, who finished bottom of the first stage with only seven points, picked up all three with a last-gasp 3-2 victory at home to JEF United Ichihara, the club who sacked Engels as manager midway through last season.
 "Yes, it was a great start, especially to do it against JEF United, and hopefully this is just the first step," said Engels.
 "We had been working hard towards this game for three weeks because everyone understands our position and we are fully concentrated to stay up."
 Sanga led 1-0 and then 2-1, only to be pulled back for a second time with 10 minutes to go. But Makoto Atsuta popped up with his second goal of the game in injury time to secure a dramatic win.
 The one disappointment for Engels was the low turn-out at the Purple Sanga home ground of Nishikyogoku Stadium, on the outskirts of Kyoto. The crowd was only 4,251, a quarter of the capacity.
 "I think a lot of fans are unhappy with the management of the club so stayed away, but I hope they can get behind us for the rest of the season," added Engels.
 "Unfortunately, we have to wait one month for our next league game at Nishikyogoku because the club have sold our next home game (against the Yokohama F Marinos on July 8) to Tottori (city).
 "It's difficult for the fans in this situation, but hopefully they won't forget our win last Saturday."  Two of the 16 teams are relegated when the points are added up from both stages.
 Kyoto and Kawasaki Frontale both have 10, with Avispa Fukuoka in the "safe" 14th slot on 18 after winning 1-0 at Frontale on Saturday.