Masatada Ishii’s Kashima Antlers have won the 2016 Meiji Yasuda J1 League season on away goals in the Championship Series. Champions of the first stage with a record of 12-3-2 (39 points), the Antlers took it easy with a second stage record of 6-2-9 (20 points) for an overall record of 18-5-11 (59 points). After defeating Yahiro Kazama’s Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 in the semifinals on a 50th minute goal from Mu Kanazaki on Nov. 23 at the Todoroki Stadium, the Antlers defeated Mihailo Petrovic’s Urawa Red Diamonds 2-1 on away goals following a 2-2 aggregate draw.
In the first leg on Nov. 29 at the Kashima Soccer Stadium, a 57th minute goal from Yuki Abe gave Urawa a 1-0 lead in the first leg. On Dec. 3, Shinzo Koroki’s seventh minute goal powered Urawa to a 1-0 lead in the second leg. But a brace from Kanazeki in the 40th and 79th minutes were enough to give the Antlers their eighth league title. Here is the list of honors that Kashima have earned thus far.
Sumitomo Soccer Club (Amateur era)
Winners (1): 1973
Japan Soccer League Division 2
Champions (2): 1984, 1986–1987
Kashima Antlers (Professional era)
Champions (8): 1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2016
J.League 1° stage
Winners (2): 1993, 1997
J.League 2° stage
Winners (3): 1998, 2000, 2001
Winners (4): 1997, 2000, 2007, 2010
J. League Cup:
Winners (6): 1997, 2000, 2002, 2011, 2012, 2015
Japanese Super Cup:
Winners (5): 1997, 1998, 1999, 2009, 2010
A3 Champions Cup:
Winners (1): 2003
Suruga Bank Championship:
Winners (2): 2012, 2013
“I’m so happy,” Ishii said. “Regardless of how the overall league table finished, we knew that the team that won the J. League Championship would win the title. I’m delighted that we were able to do it. This is a result of the strength of the players and everyone connected with the club. All I can say is how happy I am. I’m so proud of the players.”
“We would have liked to have finished top of the overall table but the rules are the rules and a win is a win,” said Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara. “The most important thing was to all stick together like we did tonight. We all believed in each other, helped each other out and did everything we could to win. I think that part of our game showed tonight. I’m really happy but it’s also an important title in terms of putting us on the road to winning more. I think we can get even stronger.”
“We had ups and downs all year,” Kanazaki added. “But I’m happy that we were able to finish it off in the best way possible.”
However, Kashima aren’t done just yet. Following the FIFA Club World Cup (they start with a play-in game against Oceanian club champions Auckland City FC), the Antlers host Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Dec. 24 in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Emperor’s Cup.
Keep it right here on The Stoppage Time, powered by Azteca Soccer, for more world football news. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.