Antlers eye double despite lucky charm's death
Japan's Kashima Antlers have set their sights on a domestic soccer double despite the death of their "guardian angel" - a furry bat.
The fluttering clubhouse inhabitant, which would often sit above a framed photograph of former Kashima coach Zico, died on Wednesday morning after the team won the J-League on Saturday.
Players and staff discovered the lifeless bat on the floor upon returning from Saitama on Sunday where a 1-0 win gave them a record third successive league title.
Kashima staff had refused to have the bat removed from the premises believing it to be a lucky charm.
Antlers players put a brave face on the death of the talismanic creature by vowing to win the season-ending Emperor's Cup.
"It's a duty for this team to win the championships," defender Daiki Iwamasa told Wednesday's Japanese media. "We will continue trying to win every competition."