The revolving door at Vissel Kobe hardly stopped spinning after Hiroshi Matsuda’s team was promoted from J2.

As soon as the dust settled on Vissel’s promotion playoff victory against Avispa Fukuoka in December, the team got to work on building a squad strong enough to prevent a quick return to the J. League’s second tier.

More than a team’s worth of players has departed and about the same number has arrived, but coach Matsuda isn’t concerned with the effects of the wheeling and dealing.

“We don’t mind changing players and had to do it anyway because we were in J2 last year,” Matsuda told The Japan Times.

“You can’t expect the same players to do as well because the level is a lot higher.”

The end product is a young squad Matsuda believes is good enough to spring a few surprises in the league.

“We’ll keep challenging,” Matsuda said. “I know we are the team that just got promoted, but we need to forget about that and give it all we’ve got. We’re not here to just make up the numbers. “

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