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 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.

FC Gifu v Mito Hollyhock – preview

Team news

The news from the training ground (and El Golazo) is that Henik has picked up an injury and will be struggling for Sunday. Also, I’m not too sure about the status of top scorer Nazarit, who missed the Jubilo game. Other than that, there are no suspensions or other new injuries to worry about.

My predicted FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi. Abe, Shuto Tanaka, Kitani, Mori, Masuyama, Higa, Takachi, Kleiton, Namba, Endo

Recent form (last 5 games, most recent first)

  • FC Gifu – LWDLL
  • Mito Hollyhock – LDDWL

Top scorers

  • FC Gifu – Nazarit, 14; Hiroaki Namba, 11
  • Mito Hollyhock – Makito Yoshida, 10

Previous meetings in Gifu

  • 2009  FC Gifu 3-3 Mito Hollyhock
  • 2010  FC Gifu 1-0 Mito Hollyhock
  • 2011  FC Gifu 2-1 Mito Hollyhock
  • 2012  FC Gifu 0-1 Mito Hollyhock
  • 2013  FC Gifu 1-4 Mito Hollyhock

Overall J.League record

  • Gifu wins – 7
  • Mito wins – 5
  • Draws – 3

What happened last time?

Back in May, FC Gifu looked as if they were on the way to an impressive win as goals from Nazarit & Keiji Takachi had them 2-1 up with 10 minutes, but strikes from Makito Yoshida & and additional time one from Keisuke Funatani gave the hosts an unlikely win.


Sorry for the lack of activity recently. I’ve been dealing with a cold that won’t go away, an achilles injury that is very painful at times and a heavy work schedule. A hat trick that no-one wants!! Let me update on some things happening around the club.

  • Defeat at Jubilo

Last weekend Gifu were beaten 3-1 by Hiroshi Nanami’s promotion chasing Iwata side. It could have been oh-so different had Masuyama not hit the bar before Jubilo got their first goal. But, that was the way it went last. FC Gifu played really well at times, but mental errors again cost them. Hiroaki Namba was once again on the scoresheet for Gifu

  • Mito calling

Mito Hollyhock visit Nagaragawa tomorrow for a spooky hallowe’en themed game. More on that in the match preview.

  • Matsumoto invasion!

Tickets for the away section behind the goal for the November 15th showdown are sold out. Yamaga might be promoted on that day if results so dictate. One thing is for sure, given that it is Gifu’s last home game of the season, there will be an electric atmosphere.

  • J1 challenge progress

FC Gifu’s J1 challenge support is going well. As of this week, volunteers & staff had collected 38,004 signatures and raised ¥1,397,521. The push will continue through the end of the year.

FC Gifu 1-0 Montedio Yamagata


Not without its drama, FC Gifu claimed an important win against play-off chasing Montedio Yamagata.


FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Abe, Nakamura, Mori, Tanaka, Sudo, Miyazawa, Masuyama, Ota, Namba, Nazarit

The home side were without the suspended midfield duo of Keiji Takachi & Henik, and so it was Yusuke Sudo & Miyazawa who were to patrol the middle of the park.

In the first half, Montedio played like a team who had eyes for the play-offs and they had some very good chances to score. Matsuoka was first up, controlling the ball in the area from a long throw before smashing a shot against the underside of the bar. Next, Kawaguchi denied Yamazaki in a one-on-one situation. Gifu had the final chance of the half, but Nazarit’s free-kick was saved by Montedio ‘keeper Yamagishi.

In the second half, the game evened up a bit with both sides looking for the win.

A huge moment of controversy came in the 58th minute, and it involved Masashi Miyazawa. The ex-Oita midfielder was dispossessed on the edge of the area by Diego but as he fell to the ground he stopped the ball rolling into the area with his hand. While everyone else stopped, Diego retrieved the ball and smacked it into the net, only for the referee to disallow it having apparently already blown for the free kick. The subsequent free-kick was wasted, and Miyazawa was replaced soon after by Taisuke Mizuno.

Kleiton Domingues was next to come on, and this substitution started to give Gifu more control as he, Mizuno & Sudo began to force the issue. Gifu almost took the lead in the 68th minute, but Hiroaki Namba couldn’t keep his header in the face of severe pressure from Yamagishi. Yamagata brought on Romero Frank to try and counter the influence of Kleiton & Mizuno, but Gifu still held the upper hand. Yusuke Sudo had a couple of efforts from outside the box, and Yamagishi made a good save from a Nazarit header before FC Gifu finally broke the deadlock in the 77th minute.

A long throw from Masuyama bounced over the head of Nazarit and into the path of strike partner Hiroaki Namba, who had his back to the goal. He swiveled and volleyed over Yamagishi and off the underside of the bar. It was close, but the ball was just over the line although Nazarit removed any doubt by smashing in the loose ball.


But, as FC Gifu supporters know, Gifu are vulnerable when they are winning – and Montedio didn’t waste any time trying to prove that vulnerability. In the last 10 minutes Miyasaka headed wide from 6 yards out, Hiroki Bandai had a goal ruled out for offside and Romero Frank somehow shot wide from close range. Masuyama nearly made the game safe for the home side, but Yamagishi produced a stunning one-handed save to deny him.

The final whistle was greeted with huge relief from the majority of the 5512 inside the Nagaragawa stadium, although the traveling Yamagata fans will probably feel they deserved something from the game.


FC Gifu played well, especially Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi & Shuto Tanaka who helped keep the second clean sheet in a row. But, once again, it was Yusuke Sudo who drove this team performance. He was superb, and he was almost everywhere on the pitch. He has a drive & energy that doesn’t seem to wane as the game goes on. If he keeps up this level of performance, he is someone that Gifu can build their team around for the rest of the season and beyond.


The schedule doesn’t get much easier as Gifu’s next appointment is with Hiroshi Nanami’s Jubilo Iwata. It will take another epic defensive display to keep Jubilo quiet, but Kawaguchi will be out for revenge. Should be an interesting afternoon at the Yamaha stadium.