Sport Football ‘Australian first’: Ange Postecoglou on verge of claiming Japanese league title

‘Australian first’: Ange Postecoglou on verge of claiming Japanese league title

Ange Postecoglou (C) has been a big hit in Japan at Yokahama.
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Ange Postecoglou is on the verge of becoming the first Australian coach to win the J-League title after steering his Yokohama F. Marinos team to the top of the standings with two games remaining.

Former Socceroos coach Postecoglou guided Yokohama to the summit with a 1-0 win at Matsumoto Yamuga on Saturday.

That result and FC Tokyo’s surprise 1-1 draw with lowly Shonan Bellmare saw the top two change positions.

Yokohama is on 64 points, with Tokyo on 63.

Kashima Antlers, the only other team in title contention, are on 60.

Postecoglou’s men could clinch the title as soon as next weekend if they beat fourth-placed Kawasaki Frontale away and Tokyo loses to 13th-placed Urawa Red Diamonds.

However, it is more likely it will come down to a final-round home showdown with Tokyo on December 7.

Postecoglou’s side is unbeaten in the league since August 17, a span of nine games.

However, the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory boss, who recently signed a one-year contract extension with Yokohama that will take him through till the end of next season, was not getting carried away with the title up for grabs.

“Just keep playing our football, that’s what’s got us to here,” said Postecoglou.

“We look forward to a big game next week against Kawasaki. They’re a fantastic team and we look forward to that challenge.”

The 54-year-old Postecoglou is wildly popular in Yokohama for driving the five-time champions to within reach of a first success since 2004 with minimal spending, as well as establishing an exciting brand of attacking football.

It’s an impressive improvement for the club that finished 12th last season and narrowly avoided a relegation playoff in Postecoglou’s first campaign in Japan’s top flight.