• Kyodo


Defending J. League champion Yokohama F.Marinos were given a boost Tuesday when Japan international Yuji Nakazawa agreed to sign a new deal that will keep him at the club through January 2009.

The 27-year-old defender looked set to follow South Korean striker Ahn Jung Hwan and try his luck in Europe after receiving offers from a number of clubs.

But the 2004 J. League Player of the Year has decided to stay at Takeshi Okada’s side to focus on securing a place in Japan’s squad for next year’s World Cup finals in Germany.

Nakazawa, who has been rock solid for both club and country in the last year, has agreed on a new three-year, seven-month deal just two days before his current contract was set to expire.

No financial details were disclosed but the long-term deal is thought to be the first exceeding three years to be handed to a Japanese player in the J. League.

Kobe signs Souza

KOBE (Kyodo) Struggling J. League first-division side Vissel Kobe has signed Brazilian midfielder Diego Souza on a loan deal from Brazilian club Palmeiras, Kobe officials said Tuesday.

The 21-year-old, who has scored 16 goals in 111 league and cup appearances since making his professional debut for Palmeiras in 2002, joins Kobe on a deal running through Jan. 1, 2006.

Kobe is bottom of the first division with just nine points from 12 games played this season.

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