The J3 League opens the 2018 season tomorrow. This is the third season for Cerezo Osaka U-23, consisted mainly of top team players whose ages are below 23 and academy players, to play in the league.
The team under former first team manager and younger brother of GM Kiyoshi Okuma, Yuji Okuma, have not had results worthy of praising in the past 2 seasons, finishing the 12th and 13th in the league, but at the same time the U-23 time is also a place for development. Especially Yasuki Kimoto’s rise to the first team demonstrated the value of the U-23 team, while more young players should also follow his way in the future.
Under the league’s rule, a player who is 23 years old or below as of December 31 of a season can be registered for the U-23 team (In principle, the U-23 team can also use 3 overage players in a match). Among the current top team members, the following players are allowed to play for the U-23 team (the numbers are their ages as of December 31, 2018).
GK: Takumi Nagaishi (22), Shu Mogi (19)
DF: Kakeru Funaki (20), Reiya Morishita (20)
MF: Hirofumi Yamauchi (23), Naoya Uozato (23), Masaki Okino (22), Masataka Nishimoto (22), Chaowat (22), Musashi Oyama (20), Toshiki Onozawa (20)
FW: Rei Yonezawa (22), Towa Yamane (19), Motohiko Nakajima (19), Hiroto Yamada (19), Mizuki Ando (19)
From this list, we can see there are many players in midfield and forward positions, but very few defenders in the squad. To fill in the blanks, Cerezo already registered 12 academy players ahead of the season opening.
New loan signing Osmar is set to make his J.League debut in the J3 League opener against Blaublitz Akita tomorrow. Initially, Sports Nippon reported there was a possibility for him to travel to Kashiwa with the first team, but today writer Hisashi Oda reported that U-23 captain Masataka Nishimoto and he are likely to form a duo in the defensive midfield tomorrow. “He’s very good at positioning and technique. Despite a language problem, he can give directions and there are a lot of things I can learn from him. With him I can demonstrate my strength and I’ll also try to exploit his ability,” the 21-year-old said.