New boys continue to shine
FIFA.com’s weekly review of domestic matters across Asia and Oceania is headlined by action in Japan and China PR, where the standard continues to be set by newly-promoted clubs. It is a polar opposite situation in Korea Republic where the traditional names are impressing, while there is also a look at the latest from Uzbekistan, Iran and Vanuatu.
Japan’s J.League: Kashiwa continue to defy odds
Newly-promoted Kashiwa Reysol's red-hot form continued unabated after nine matches, with a 2-0 victory over Yokohama Marinos opening up a four-point margin at the top. Vegalta Sendai remains unbeaten but lost their grip on second, slipping five points from the apex after a 1-1 draw with Vissel Kobe.
Big game: Japan international striker Hisato Sato gave Sanfrecce Hiroshima a 1-0 win thanks to a stunning last-minute goal against Albirex Niigata. The result propelled Sanfrecce into second, four points of the pace, while the Albirex remain entrenched in midtable.
Headline-grabber: The unlikely attacking duo of Junya Tanaka and Hideaki Kitajima continue to shine for Kashiwa Reysol scoring the goals in the win over Yokohama Marinos. The 23-year-old Tanaka and the 33-year-old Kitajima have now combined for nine of Kashiwa Reysol's 18 goals.
Korea Republic’s K-League: Jeonbuk on the up, Suwon in the blues
Lee Dong-Gook stuck his tenth goal and set up another as Jeonbuk Motors beat Gyeongnam 2-0 to extend their lead to four points over second placed Pohang Steelers, who were held to a 1-1 draw at defending champions FC Seoul. Jeju United came from behind to claim a 3-2 win over struggling Suwon Bluewings to move up to third place, while Gangwon picked up their first win in their 13th attempt thanks to an own goal from Busan I’Park.
Big game: With both Seoul and Pohang led by legendary former Korea Republic strikers in the shape of Choi Yong-Soo and Hwang Sun-Hong respectively, the clash between the pair promised to be a feast of attacking football. Dejan Damjanovic put the hosts ahead with his seventh goal of the season before Hwang Jin-Sung equalised for the Steelers, as the War of the Birds ended in stalemate.
Headline-grabber: Kwon Yong-Nam has become an overnight sensation after scoring the late goal that earned Jeju United a dramatic 3-2 victory over Suwon Bluewings. Having had a brief spell with Cheonan City in the second division last year, the defender-turned-forward returned to the island this season and netted his first professional goal in his third appearance.
China PR's Super League: Guangzhou back to the summit
Guangzhou Yiyao continued their stunning run in their debut Super League season, overcoming hosts Tianjin Teda by a solitary goal for their sixth win from ten outings. This result, allied with Beijing Guoan's 1-1 draw at Henan Construction, saw the promoted side return to the top of the standings at the capital club’s expense. Hot on their heels are Shanghai Shenhua, who edged out Jiangsu Sainty 3-2, while Liaoning Whowin climbed to fourth with a resounding 4-0 triumph at Chengdu Blades.
Big game: Chinese international Qu Bo scored a goal and set up another as Shaanxi Chanba came from behind to defeat the on-song Hangzhou Greentown at home. Sebastian Vazquez struck on 26 minutes to give the visitors a first-half lead but the home side drew level ten minutes after the restart, as Qu Bo perfectly crossing for Wilson to tap in. The provider then turned scorer in added time when he unleashed a powerful drive into the top-left corner to seal the three points.
Headline-grabber: Imported strikers have dominated the Chinese scoring chart over recent years and this season has so far proved to be no exception, with Shanghai's Argentinian forward Luis Salmeron in prolific form. The former Atlanta marksman netted twice as his side dispatched Jiangsu, with the brace extending his tally to nine goals.
In Uzbekistan, Nasaf saw their 19-match unbeaten run come to an end when they lost 2-1 against Bunyodkor in a table-topping encounter. Serbian Milos Trifunovic scored a double for Bunyodkor, while Andrejs Perepljotkins pulled one back for Nasaf. Victory saw Bunyodkor move four ahead of Nasaf with a game in hand, while Pakhtakor lifted into second, three points off the summit, thanks to a 2-0 win over Shurtan.
In Iran, Persepolis sealed their participation in next year’s AFC Champions League by winning Iran’s Hazfi Cup, despite losing the second leg 1-0 to Malavan. The Tehran giants getting home 4-3 on aggregate to retain their cup crown. Ali Daei’s side, who finished fourth in the league, also equalled rivals Esteghlal's record of five Hazfi Cup triumphs.
Fenedy Masauvakalo notched a quickfire double to reclaim the Vanuatu National Super League title for Amicale, and also ensure the OFC O-League runners-up will have another tilt at continental glory. The league leaders collected a 2-1 victory over second-placed Tafea in front of over 4,000 supporters at the PVL Stadium in Port Vila, to open up an unassailable eight-point lead going into the final round next weekend.