When Júbilo Iwata won the last of their J. League titles in 2002, several of their biggest names were pushing the wrong side of thirty.
34-year-old striker Masashi Nakayama was joined by veteran midfielders Toshiya Fujita and Hiroshi Nanami in a vastly experienced but rapidly ageing squad, as the elder statesmen of the Shizuoka side maintained a tight grip on the squad.
Júbilo clearly needed an injection of fresh faces if they were were to continue their dominance of Asian football, but rather than see their declining veterans depart, fans instead saw top scorer Naohiro Takahara exit for the German Bundesliga.
Fast forward to 2010 and the club’s Keluaran HK crippling lack of foresight has had a dramatic knock-on effect. In a land where experience is venerated above all else, Júbilo’s failure to renew their playing stocks has seen the club suffer a dramatic fall from grace.
No longer regarded as a powerhouse of Asian football, the one-time continental champions have even been overtaken by Shimizu S-Pulse as the strongest club in the region.
Average attendances have dropped to their lowest point this decade, Júbilo have not won a piece of silverware since 2003 and a new nadir was reached in 2008 when this once-proud club was forced into the relegation/promotion playoff to salvage their top-flight status at the expense of Vegalta Sendai.
Not even the form of striker Ryoichi Maeda has been enough to fire Júbilo out of their slump, after the Japan striker became the first Júbilo player since Takahara to top the goal-scoring charts while blasting home 20 goals for his struggling side last season.
Last weekend just 7,258 fans turned out at
Júbilo’s compact Yamaha Stadium to witness the home side lose to Kyoto Sanga on their …
Far from the tinderbox of the Gaza strip there’s a pocket of South America where you can see the Palestine flag flying high and football fans decked out in keffiyeh headdresses.
These fans are the loyal followers of Club Deportivo Palestino, a team that narrowly missed out on Chile’s Primera División last season. They lost to Colo Colo in the championship play-off decider and were denied the third league title of their history.
Chile has the largest population of displaced Palestinians outside the Middle East region and in 1920 a group of them decided to start a football team in Santiago. While in its infancy Palestino competed in the colonial championships of Osorno.
These days home games are played at Cisterna Keluaran HK Municipality Stadium and a capacity crowd produces a 12,000 strong sea of red, green and black.
When a national league was established by the Federación de Fútbol de Chile in 1952 Palestino joined the second division and won an instant promotion to the top-flight.
Three years later they won the national championship under the guidance of former Argentine captain Guillermo Coll. Their only other title came in 1978 with a league and cup double, this time with legendary Chilean captain Elías Figueroa at the helm.
Another familiar face to have passed through the ranks at Palestino is former Chilean international midfield Clarence Acuña who had a spell at Newcastle United as well as appearing at 1998 World Cup for Chile.
Despite Palestine remaining unrecognised as a country by everybody from the United Nations to Myspace, FIFA has allowed a Palestinian national team compete in World Cup qualifiers for the last 10 years.
Faced with the problems of assembling a team able to compete within World Cup …
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