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Club World Cup 2012 Team Intros: Sanfrecce Hiroshima

By Dan Orlowitz

The 2012 Club World Cup kicks off in less than one week, and is set to cap off the year in football as the world's most well-known clubs vie to be named the best.

The tournament, which runs from December 6 to 16 in Japan, will see the top sides from all the world's confederations battling it out, and, while most football fans are familiar with the likes of Chelsea and Corinthians, several of the other competitors deserve introduction.

Now, presents to you all seven teams that will be taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here, we profile Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima may not be known outside their native Japan, but within the country they have been pioneers of the sport. As the Tokyo Kogyo Skyukyu Club they completed the nation's first double when they won the semi-professional Japan Soccer League and the Emperor's Cup in 1965. Four years later they participated in the Asian Club Cup, becoming the first Japanese club to participate in a continental tournament.

As Mazda SC in the 80s the club were managed by Dutchman Hans Ooft, who went on to become the first foreign coach of the Japan national team. Then in 1992, Sanfrecce were one of 10 clubs to found the fully-professional J-League.

But far from the seats of power located in the Kansai (west) and Kanto (east) areas, Sanfrecce struggled to raise attendance and produce results. A second-place finish in the 1994 season and four runners-up results in the Emperor's Cup were the best they could manage until their shock relegation to the second division in 2007 heralded an era of change under manager Mihailo Petrovic, who guided the team back to J1 and even to a place in the 2010 Asian Champions League.

Two years later under the direction of manager Hajime Moriyasu, the Purple Archers captured their first J-League Division 1 crown with one week to spare after scoring the second-highest and allowing the third-fewest goals in the league.

A long-time coach at the club, Moriyasu was promoted to the managerial role in order to preserve the style of play implemented by previous manager Mihailo Petrovic. For several years Sanfrecce have favoured attractive attacking centered on agile Japanese players; in a league where Brazilians have for years been tasked with goal-scoring duties, Sanfrecce's production still catches opposing teams by surprise. Mihailo Mikic is the team's European midfielder and will be tasked with setting up Hisato Sato, who can score from just about anywhere.

The team's biggest concern will be their defence; while they have one of the best back lines in the J-League, they will undoubtedly be challenged by teams such as Corinthians. Goalkeeper Nishikawa will need to play at his best.

THE STAR | Hisato Sato

After seven years with the club, Sato has captured the hearts and minds of supporters across the country as Japan's best domestic striker. He's recorded double-digit tallies in every season since 2004, and won the J-League's golden boot with 22 goals; a personal J1 record.

Sato has mostly been out of the national team picture and at 30 appears to have little chance of breaking through under coach Alberto Zaccheroni. But as one of a dwindling number of Japanese icons who have played their entire career in Japan, a memorable performance at the Club World Cup could cement his status as one of the country's greatest strikers.

THE SYMBOLS | Koji and Kazuyuki Morisaki

After growing up playing for Sanfrecce's youth squad, twin brothers Koji and Kazuyuki Morisaki were both promoted to the top team in 1999 and have remained defensive ever since, eventually donning the No. 7 and 8 uniforms respectively.

In total they have made over 800 appearances for the Purple Archers, scoring 100 goals across every competition in which they've taken part including the J1, J2, J-League Cup, Emperor's Cup, and Asian Champions League. Now at 31 years old, the defensive midfielders will at last face the world's best in the Club World Cup.

THE YOUNGSTER | Kohei Shimizu
The 23-year-old joined Sanfrecce out of high school in 2008, but was unable to make more than a token number of appearances until this season when he stepped in to replace the injured Satoru Yamagishi in midfield. In 24 appearances this season, Shimizu has scored four goals and grown as a player. The Oita native has gained the confidence of coach Moriyasu, and is a strong contender for a starting role in 2013 and beyond.
  • 'Sanfrecce' is a portmanteau of 'San', the Japanese word for 'three', and 'Frecce', the Italian word for Arrow. The name comes from the story of Mori Motonari, a prominent 15th and 16th-century Japanese ruler who told his three sons that while a single arrow can be snapped easily, three arrows held together would remain unbroken.
  • Upon scoring a goal, Sanfrecce players often celebrate by taking a knee and pantomiming an archer releasing his arrow.
  • The team's goalkeeper in the late 80s was Dutch footballer Dido Havenaar, who remained in Japan and is currently a coach at Shimizu S-Pulse. His family adopted Japanese citizenship in 1994, and son Mike Havenaar plays for the Japan national team as well as Vitesse in the Eredivisie.


Unlike 2011 J-League representatives Kashiwa Reysol, Sanfrecce clinched the title with a week to spare and were therefore afforded the luxury of resting many starters in last weekend's league finale. Sanfrecce's attack-minded 4-5-1 sees Hisato Sato as the lone striker up top, flanked by youngsters Shimizu, Croatian midfielder Mihailo Mikic, and Yojiro Takahagi.

Chiba, Mizumoto, Moriwaki, Aoyama
Ko. Morisaki, Ka. Morizaki
Takahagi, Mikic, Shimizu