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Who are Kashiwa Reysol, the new home for Kenyan striker Michael Olunga?

7:09 AM GMT 10/08/2018
Michael Olunga signs for Kashiwa Reysol in Japan.
The towering striker has penned a three-year-contract move to Japan's top division side Kashiwa Reysol from Guizhou Zhicheng

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga will now play in the Japanase league after ditching China on Thursday.

The towering striker has penned a three-year-deal move to Japan's top division side Kashiwa Reysol. The deal is worth about Sh300m and will see him pocket Sh15m per month.

Several clubs in Europe were in the race to sign the former Gor Mahia striker but he opted to try out the Japanese league and end his short stay in China with Guizhou Zhicheng. Olunga was on loan with Girona FC in La Liga last season.

But, who are this club that has signed the former Gor Mahia striker?

Kashiwa Reisoru is a Japanese professional football club-based in Kashiwa, Chiba. The team competes in the J. League Division 1 from 2011 season.

Formed in 1940, Reysol were founding members of Japan Soccer League in 1965 and have spent the majority of their existence in the top tier in Japan. They have been Japanese league champions twice, in 1972 and 2011, and have won three Emperor's Cups.

Reysol have a rivalry with neighbours JEF United Chiba and the two sides contest the Chiba derby. The club is based at Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium since 1985.

Founded in 1940 as Hitachi, Ltd. Soccer Club in Kodaira, Tokyo, the team was a founding member of the Japan Soccer League. It had some success during the mid-1970s, winning several Emperor's Cup and JSL titles and contributing several players to the Japanese national team.

In 1986, the team relocated from Kodaira to Kashiwa, but it took a while to adapt to the new town, as they were relegated to the JSL Division 2 at the season's closing. They made it back to the top flight in 1989, only to drop back in 1990 and return in 1991. As the J. League advent had come too soon for them, Hitachi chose to relegate itself in the last JSL season.

Over the next two seasons, management changes, in particular the tenure of English coach Steve Perryman, unsettled the team and they lost ground.

Things got worse still. Following a 16th place out of 18 finish in the 2005 standings, Kashiwa Reysol lost the promotion/relegation play-offs against the 3rd place J2 team Ventforet Kofu. For the first time, three J1 teams were sent down to J2.

Following relegation, the team lost all its former players. It began 2006 with both a new coach, Nobuhiro Ishizaki, and an almost entirely new squad. Kashiwa lead J2 for much of 2006, but a series of poor performances in the later stages saw them slip down the table.

It was only in the final game of the season that the team secured automatic promotion to J1 as first-placed runners-up. In 2009, they were relegated again, but in 2010 they won the J2 title and in 2011, against all predictions, won the J1 title, becoming the first Japanese team to win the second and first tier titles back-to-back.

By winning the title in 2011, they also qualified for 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.