• Kyodo

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JEF United Chiba have acquired Romanian midfielder Gabriel Popescu and Bulgarian defender Ilian Stoyanov, the J. League first-division club said Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Popescu, who has scored four goals in 21 games for his country, joined Chiba from South Korean club Suwon Bluewings.

He was in the Romanian squad in the 1998 World Cup finals in France. Chiba signed Stoyanov from Levski Sofia.

The 27-year-old played in two matches at last year’s European Championship in Portugal and all three qualifiers Bulgaria played so far for a place in the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

Elsewhere in J. League news, first-division club Kashima Antlers have acquired midfielder Ari from Brazilian side Bahia, Kashima officials said Wednesday.

The contract for the 24-year-old midfielder runs through Jan. 1.

Also, Japan and Yokohama F. Marinos striker Tatsuhiko Kubo, who is nursing a sore back, is expected to return to action in a J. League match against Cerezo Osaka on March 12, Marinos officials said Wednesday.

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