FC Ryukyu Update 2020

It’s almost the end of the J2 season and yesterday was the penultimate home game for FC Ryukyu who hosted strugglers Ehime. The season has been a bit of a non-event for all but the three teams at the top battling for the two promotion places. The pandemic meant relegation was suspended for one year, and with Ryukyu unlikely to figure in the promotion race it has been a strange season.

Nevertheless – and with a limited number of supporters allowed in the stadium – yesterday was a good day to be a Ryukyu fan. There was very warm sunshine for the late afternoon kick-off and the team put on a sparkling performance to win the game 6-0, with five second half goals, including a hat-trick from midfielder Koya Kazama.  

J.League football is a very different experience from the sometimes tense and confrontational nature of matches in England. The atmosphere is more like a carnival as clubs, including Ryukyu, take pride in welcoming away supporters, putting on pre-match entertainments, and offering a variety of food, drinks, and local specialities outside the stadium.

Yesterday was advertised as ‘Home Town’ day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Okinawa City becoming the team’s home. The first 3,000 fans to enter the stadium were given specially produced FC Ryukyu shirts and there were gifts of food, drinks, and posters. Inside the stadium there was a pre-match performance by Sonda Seinenkai Eisa, and a live show by Okinawan pop duo D-51. Finally, after the 6-0 win, there was a firework display to send us all home in good spirits.

Easy access to the stadium is still problematic and there is the continual concern that FC Ryukyu will lose their best players after each season ends. The club are currently 17th in the 22-team league. Midfielder Yoshio Koizumi has been outstanding this season but already there are rumours of him moving on. But for now, we can savour the experience of a big win.

The final home game of the season is next Sunday 20th December, kick-off 14:00, when Ryukyu will play Machida Zelvia.


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