Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-0 FC Gifu

Despite dominating possession, FC Gifu fell to 0-2 defeat to very clinical Giravanz Kitakyushu side.

FC Gifu starting XI: Ota, Masuyama, Abe, Henik, Tanaka, Takachi, Mizuno, Kleiton, Kiyomoto, Namba, Nazarit

The big surprise was Gakuji Ota coming in to make his J.League debut in place of Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi. Ramos opted to put Henik back in defence and go with four ball-playing midfielders in the middle of the park.  

The first half was, in all fairness, a rather uneventful affair. For Giravanz, Kazuki Hara had a shot easily saved, and Naito blasted over the bar from a tight angle. For Gifu, there was lots of possession, lots of passing but not a lot of creation. The only meaningful effort on goal was when Kleiton Domingues latched on to a through ball but had his goalbound shot blocked by a defender.

Half time saw Junki Endo replace Takumi Kiyomoto and Gifu’s boy wonder made an instant impact, gliding past a defender on the left and showing extreme pace to get into the box, but Endo was denied by a last ditch tackle by Watanabe. Gifu forced three corners in quick succession, one of which resulted in a deflected Henik header being cleared off the line. Gifu were in the ascendancy, but were undone by a Kitakyushu sucker punch in the 65th minute from Koki Kazama. Kazama exchanged passes with Hara before cooling rounding Gakuji Ota and passing into the empty net.

Gifu’s fate was sealed in the 83rd minute when a long ball out of defence caught Masanori Abe out of position which allowed Tomoki Ikemoto to run through and notch his 15th of a highly impressive season

It was never going to be an easy assignment, but Gifu were well in the game (could possibly say  in control) before Giravanz showed what Gifu have been lacking: ruthlessness. When they got chances, they took them. Gifu didn’t. And therein lies the reason that Giravanz are 4th, and Gifu now find themselves in 18th.

Gakuji Ota showed up well on his full J.League debut, and he couldn’t really do anything about the goals. I doubt he’ll take over full time from Yoshikatsu this year, but he has certainly put himself in the frame to be Gifu’s number two goalkeeper next year.

Things don’t get any easier for Gifu as they host play-off chasing Oita Trinita at Nagaragawa next weekend.

Another public viewing scheduled

FC Gifu have announced that there will be another public viewing of an away game, this time the game at Tochigi SC on November 9th.


The viewing will take place at Kasamatsu racecourse, just to the south of Gifu city itself. It is a big place, with a pretty big screen and is easily accessible by public transport, so if the weather is good it should be a well attended event.

It won’t just be about the game either. There will be fan events, giveaways and other stuff promoting the local area. I’d rather be in Tochigi, but if I can’t make it, I’ll be at Kasamatsu racecourse!

Giravanz Kitakyushu v FC Gifu

FC Gifu head west on Sunday for a date with J2’s surprise package Giravanz Kitakyushu at Honjo Stadium.

Team news & my predicted FC Gifu starting line up: Kawaguchi, Abe, Henik, Tanaka, Mori, Masuyama, Takachi, Mizuno, Kleiton, Namba, Nazarit

I feel bad for leaving Junki Endo and Ryoto Higa out as I think that they should be given playing time to assess them for next year, but there is no doubt that Nazarit & Namba play really well together so when they are both fit, they will automatically start together. I’d really like to see Yuki Nakamura, Hirofumi Moriyasu & Tomohiro Tanaka in the squad as well as it would be good for them to get some playing time. In defence it will be a bit of a lottery. I think Henik will move back there to combat the physical presence of Kitakyushu forward Kazuki Hara. Keiji Takachi came off injured last week, but he is expected to start.

Why are Giravanz doing so well?

1. They have an excellent coach in Hashiratani, and he has been trusted by the Giravanz board to rebuild after the gutting of their side when Yasutoshi Miura went to Tokyo Verdy

2. Everyone knows their role. Giravanz play a pretty old school 4-4-2, but within that system there is room for flexibility. For example, Koki Kotegawa usually lines up on the right side of the midfield four, but he is given license to roam wherever he pleases – on the express understanding that he’ll never leave the right full-back, usually Kenta Hoshihara, over exposed. The same goes for top scorer Tomoki Ikemoto. He is almost always listed as a striker but he drops back, drops to the right & to the left to pick up the ball in positions where he can create something.

3. Ability to grind out results. This year, Kitakyushu have won seventeen games. Thirteen of those wins have come by a single goal, and that tells me that they know how to see out close games, which is something that FC Gifu have struggled to do.


Current form (last 5 games, most recent first)

  • FC Gifu: LLWDL
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu: WDDWD


Top scorers

  • FC Gifu: Nazarit (14), Hiroaki Namba (11)
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu: Tomoki ikemoto (14), Kazuki Hara (7)


Previous J.League games in Kitakyushu

  • 2010 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 0-1 FC Gifu
  • 2011 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 3-2 FC Gifu
  • 2012 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-1 FC Gifu
  • 2013 – Giravanz Kitakyushu 2-0 FC Gifu


Overall J.League record

  • FC Gifu wins: 4
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu wins: 4
  • Draws: 1

The reverse fixture

The teams drew 1-1 at Nagaragawa back in May. After a pretty average first half, Keiji Takachi gave FC Gifu the lead in the 61st minute and Gifu looked set for the win after Giravanz defender Kazuya Maeda was sent off for kick at Hiroaki Namba. But just four minutes after the visitors were reduced to 10 men, Kazuki Hara found space in the box and pounced to make it 1-1 and give Hashiratani’s a point they would feel extremely happy with.

Yuki Fukaya on the run-in

FC Gifu central defender Yuki Fukaya spoke to Japanese magazine El Golazo! about what he expects to see during the last few weeks of the season.

  • “I’m feeling OK, but if I come back into the team, I want it to be at full fitness. Otherwise I don’t think it would be good for the rest of the players. I’d love to play against Oita Trinita as they are one of my former clubs and, for one reason or another, I’ve never played against them.”

He then went on to speak about his previous club, Omiya Ardija, and their plight in J1.

  • “Yes, I always look for Omiya’s results and once again they are in a relegation battle. I hope they can lift themselves away from the danger zone. When I was there, we use to think that we got power from Hikawa Shrine (a shrine which is close to Omiya’s NACK5 stadium), but of course we can’t be sure! I know they lost against Yokohama F.Marinos last time out, but they have to put that behind them and focus on their next game.”

You can read the original interview at the El Golazo! blog site here

The Mito curse strikes again! FC Gifu 0-2 Mito Hollyhock

FC Gifu were beaten at home by Mito Hollyhock for the third year in a row on Sunday night in a game that lacked any real spark.

FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Shuto Tanaka, Abe, Kitani, Iwasaki, Masuyama, Henik, Takachi, Kleiton, Namba, Endo

Mito were the better team in the first half of the first half, forcing a few half chances. Kawaguchi got down to palm away a Funatani shot from distance; Henik cut out a dangerous looking cross from Baba; and Kawaguchi blasted the ball against one of his centre backs (possibly Abe) and was lucky to see the ball roll wide of the post.

Gifu started to come into the game as the half wore on, with Junki Endo, Gifu’s precocious 19 year old forward, involved in everything good. He led a counter attack that was desperately defended by the visitors. He then manouvered himself into space in the area before forcing Mito ‘keeper Kasahara into a smart save. Endo then went close again right before the half time whistle when side-footed a half volley just over the bar. Gifu would have been the happier side going into the break, and would have surely looked to have kicked on in the second half. But…..

The second half was a really flat affair. No urgency, and a glaring lack of quality haunted both sides and it was no surprise that the first goal of the game was a very scrappy/lucky one. Kohei Uchida laid the ball off to substitute Kenta Nishioka around 30 yards and his shot, which seemed destined for Kawaguchi’s arms, took a wicked deflection off Shuto Tanaka and the ball ended up in the net. Tetsuji Hashiratani’s side made the points safe 10 minutes from the end with a goal that was out of place (like a gem on a coal face) in this game due to its class. Keiji Takachi was dispossessed in midfield, Mito broke and the ball found its way to Keisuke Funatani who weighed up his options before clipping a delightful semi-chip past the stranded Kawaguchi.

Game over, although there was time for Hiroaki Namba to head wide from 3 yards out which kind of summed up this performance.

During half time at every FC Gifu home game, the local TV station provides a segment called “ラモスの言葉” – Ramos’ words. Today’s half time words were very prophetic:

  • できないからって諦めたらアカン。できるまで続ける ことが格好いいんだことなんだ” – “Never give up. If it is still possible to achieve, you must keep trying.”

FC Gifu would do well to adhere to that phrase when they make the long trip to Kyushu to face high-flying Giravanz Kitakyushu next Sunday afternoon.