Ex Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou is on the verge of an historic J-League title. The self exiled Aussie has the Yokohama F-Marinos just one point from the top of the J-League table with five games remaining.
On Saturday F-Marinos leapt a sizeable hurdle on the run in to the final round. After beating local rivals Shonan Bellmare, Postecoglou’s tri-colores are virtually assured a place in the 2020 Asian Champions League. They are now 5 points clear of fourth placed Sanfrecce Hiroshima and with a three goal superior differential.
The 3-1 win over Shonan was as comfortable as the scoreline indicates. The home team went ahead late in the first half courtesy of a superb left strike from forward Nakagawa, Teruhito. And it didn’t take long for F-Marinos to add the their lead in the second half with a Mateus free kick in the 52nd minute, while J-League top goalscorer Marcos Junior put the game beyond Shonan’s reach in the 68th minute. Shonan Bellmare now find themselves in the relegation zone in 3rd last. If they remain in 3rd last (currently two points clear of 2nd last) Shonan will be required to win a playoff against the third placed J2 team in a promotion play-off.
One thing that may be in the back of the F-Marinos players’ minds is the final two games of the season. They’re both away fixtures and both opponents will have plenty of motivation. In the 33rd round F-Marinos travel cross town to derby rivals Kawasaki, while in the 34th and last round its FC Tokyo, who are currently tied at the top of the table with Kashima.
In other news for J-League fans should not forget to tune into the Asian Champions League eastern conference final tonight when Urawa carry their 2-nil first leg lead to Guangzhou in China.