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An unprecedented season ended in a historic night for Kashiwa Reysol striker Michael Olunga, whose J. League-leading 28 goals saw him named Most Valuable Player during last week’s J. League Awards, writes Dan Orlowitz.

The league’s first African MVP’s tally accounted for nearly half of Reysol’s 60 goals this season, and was the highest in the league since the 33 Araujo scored for Gamba Osaka in 2005.

Joining Olunga in the Best XI were Kashima Antlers’ striker Everaldo as well as nine players from league champion Kawasaki Frontale, adding another line to the list of records shattered by manager Toru Oniki’s men this season.

Crazy goal skills — Michael Olunga, Kashiwa Reysol | PEPE-ANI
Crazy goal skills — Michael Olunga, Kashiwa Reysol | PEPE-ANI

On Sunday, Frontale young guns Kaoru Mitoma and Ao Tanaka delivered a goal in each half to help their team into the Emperor’s Cup decider in a 2-0 semifinal win against visiting third-division champion Blaublitz Akita. In the final, they will face Gamba Osaka, which beat Tokushima Vortis with the same score earlier in the day.

Last Thursday, J2 champs Vortis named former Real Madrid youth coach Dani Poyatos as the club’s new manager ahead of their return to the top flight next season. The same day, Nagoya Grampus announced the signing of former Japan forward Yoichiro Kakitani from Cerezo Osaka, who the same day added Australian forward Adam Taggart.

And finally, Kashima Antlers and former Japan international keeper Hitoshi Sogahata announced his retirement Thursday, ending his career with 533 appearances in the J. League’s first division — and a record 169 clean sheets.

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