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Kawasaki Teams Set Up Quarter-Final Derby in the J. League Cup

By Michael Plastow

  TOKYO (July 13)--Verdy Kawasaki and Kawasaki Frontale stole the headlines in the J. League Yamazaki Nabisco Cup on Wednesday night, between them knocking out the holders and one of the favourites and also setting up a derby quarter-final clash.

  Verdy and Frontale each went into the second leg games with a 1-0 advantage from the first leg, Verdy having won away to Cerezo Osaka and Frontale at home to Kashiwa Reysol. But it required committed defensive displays by both teams to hang on and win their quarter-final berths.

  At Todoroki, the home stadium of both Kawasaki teams, Cerezo came out attacking and created all of the best scoring chances. But South Korea midfielder Yoon Jong Hwan had been left behind at the hotel with a cold and fever, and somehow the Cerezo midfield never quite settled into its normal attacking rhythm.

  Defender Satoru Suzuki fired the first serious shot of the game, a 20 metre drive parried by Verdy keeper Kiyomitsu Kobari, and Cerezo skipper Hiroaki Morishima nodded the rebound over the bar. Three minutes later, Cerezo wing back Kiyokazu Kudo, signed this season from Jubilo Iwata, crossed well but tall centre forward Takashi Uemura couldn't quite connect and his shot went wide.

  Cerezo had two more golden chances on the brink of half time. First, Akinori Nishizawa brought the ball through and Morishima's first time shot under pressure skidded narrowly past the post. Then Uemura had a glancing header saved for a corner.

  Cerezo began the second half as if they'd never stopped, with Uemura heading his next shot within thirty seconds of the restart. Instead, though, it was Verdy who took the lead five minutes later when Cerezo defender Daisuke Saito unluckily deflected a corner kick past his own keeper.

  Verdy were two up on aggregate, and well contented to sit back and consolidate their unexpected victory. Verdy only managed one shot in the entire second half, but that hardly mattered given their two goal lead.

  It was, in fact, an outstanding defensive performance by Verdy. The two centrebacks, Yuji Nakazawa and Atsushi Yoneyama, never relaxed their concentration and new South Korean signing Kim Doh Keun marshalled the team superbly from rear midfield in concert with Kentaro Hayashi.

  "I'm very pleased with this victory," said Verdy manager Chang Woe Ryong. "Our football is now taking shape."

  Cerezo manager Hiroshi Soejima made it clear that his priority now is to put these defeats behind him and get on with preparations for the Osaka derby against Gamba on Saturday. "We attacked hard but couldn't get into shooting positions," he said about the game. "We were tired and missed Yoon. We needed to create more shooting opportunities from midfield."

  Kawasaki Frontale also faced an enormous challenge defending their 1-0 first leg lead away to the holders, Kashiwa Reysol. Reysol won the game 1-0 in 90 minutes but Frontale hung on to take the tie in extra time, the all-important goal coming from their new Brazilian signing, Isidoro.

  In other games, Shimizu S-Pulse struck back with four goals against Vissel Kobe to win 4-2 on aggregate. Kashima Antlers edged Avispa 3-2 in extra time following a 1-1 draw last week. Jubilo Iwata won on penalties against Gamba Osaka despite losing the game 2-1, after beating Gamba 1-0 away last week. FC Tokyo were shocked 1-0 at home by Kyoto Purple Sanga after drawing 1-1 last week.

  Nagoya Grampus Eight won the other quarter-final berth with a 2-1 win against JEF United Ichihara, which put them through 3-2 on aggregate. Yokohama F. Marinos qualified last week.

  The quarter-finals will be played on August 30th and September 6th. Draw: Verdy v Frontale, Sanga v Jubilo, Antlers v Marinos and Grampus v Shimizu.