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Oka-chan tips Nakazawa for MVP

15 Dec 2003(Mon)

Yokohama F Marinos manager Takeshi Okada believes his central defender Yuji Nakazawa should be named J.League MVP at the official awards ceremony Monday.

Oka-chan, who guided Yokohama to a two-stage slam in his first season as manager, says Nakazawa emerged as the life and soul of the team during the campaign.

"I always knew he was a good defender in one-on-one situations, but I was surprised by his positioning and his covering," Okada said recently at the club's training ground in Higashi Totsuka.

"He has improved his decision-making on the pitch, and his mentality is very strong.

"He is always positive and never lets his head go down." Okada described the 25-year-old national team defender as a solid and reliable professional.

"He always makes the mood of the team, on the training pitch and during a game," said Okada, Japan's head coach at the 1998 World Cup in France.

The other player Okada named from his championship-winning team was Olympic squad member Daisuke Nasu, who has been a revelation in central midfield.

Nasu is one of three players nominated for the Rookie of the Year, and seems certain to get the vote ahead of forward Masaki Fukai (Kashima Antlers) and central defender Mitsuru Nagata (Kashiwa Reysol).

Yokohama's South Korean defender, Yoo Sang Chul, has a different opinion to his manager Okada in his choice for MVP.

Yoo thinks that Marinos captain Daisuke Oku should be given the honor. "His play has been very consistent throughout the season. But not only that, he has shown a strong mentality to lead the team," said Yoo, South Korea's captain at the East Asian Championship.

It is interesting to hear the opinions of the people in the know, and basically the choice comes down to Nakazawa, Oku or Tatsuhiko Kubo, who scored some crucial goals in the second stage to keep Marinos in the hunt.

But who is going to argue with Oka-chan?

After all, he got everything else right this season.

ends

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