FC Gifu 1-1 ThespaKusatsu Gunma

A good performance, but an ultimately disappointing result as FC Gifu were held to a home draw by the visiting Gunma side.

A beautiful day down by the Nagara river

FC Gifu starting XI: Ota, Masuyama, Abe, Takagi, Nogaito, Henik, Ono, Rodrigo, Takachi, Leo Mineiro, Namba

It was the visitors that started the brighter with forward Ataru Esaka & Kaique combining well in some short passing combinations, although Leo Mineiro came close to scoring with a volley that went just wide. Gunma took the lead midway through the first half and although it was a fine goal, it was a goal that, on deeper reflection, Gifu could have prevented. The lively Esaka picked up the ball near halfway and ran at the Gifu defence. He was allowed to run almost to the edge of the area without anyone trying to tackle him and as Gifu sat off him, he arrowed a beautiful shot straight into the bottom corner to put Gunma 1-0 up.

Gifu had a good chance to equalize when Kazumichi Takagi found some space in the area, but the big centre-back couldn’t direct his header on target. Gunma went up the other end and nearly took a two goal lead when Ryo Kobayashi’s cross/shot hit the Gifu post and that proved to be the last meaningful action of the first half as Gunma went into changing rooms 1-0 up.

Gifu supporters
Hiroaki Namba comes so close to scoring….

Gifu came out for the second half fired up, and almost equalized straight away as Keiji Takchi’s free kick found the head of Hiroaki Namba, but the division’s top scorer could only watch as his header hit the post and rebounded to safety. Gifu kept pushing and Leo Mineiro had a couple of half chances to equalize before Henik got the all important leveler. The ball fell loose around 25 yards out and Henik made it his before unleashing a rocket past Gunma ‘keeper Daiki Tomii, a superb strike and one that gave renewed hope & enthusiasm to the fans.

Gifu had a scare when Gunma sub Yuichiro Nagai blasted over from close range, but apart from that it was all one-way traffic as the hosts went for the win. Leo Mineiro had a header saved by Tomii, and Tsukasa Masuyama came so close when flashed a shot just wide of the post. Full time came, and both teams had to settle for a point.

Gunma ‘keeper Tomii prepares to take a goal kick

Despite the result, this was a good performance from the team. Henik was immense, and his form recently has been superb. Leo Mineiro again troubled the opposition with his pace and energy. Just the one lapse in concentration from Gifu cost them this game, when no-one went out to close Esaka down and that is what will disappoint Ramos the most.

Gifu players salute the supporters at the end of the game

Next week, a trip to the Fukuda Denshi Arena to take on promotion chasing JEF United.

Gifu supporters get behind their team

FC Gifu v Thespakusatsu Gunma

FC Gifu will be looking to build on their fine win in Iwata last week when they host unpredictable Gunma this evening.

FC Gifu Recent form:

  • 6/21 – Jubilo Iwata 2-3 FC Gifu
  • 6/14 – FC Gifu 0-1 Consadole Sapporo
  • 6/6 – Yokohama FC 3-2 FC Gifu
  • 5/31 – FC Gifu 1-1 Mito Hollyhock

Gifu will be without the suspended Naoya Okane who picked up his fourth booking of the year last weekend. My guess is that Masanori Abe will replace him in the centre of defence with Tsukasa Masuyama moving to right back. further forward, I don’t expect any changes and I expect the blossoming forward partnership of 11 goal leading scorer Hiroaki Namba & Leo Mineiro to cause Gunma’s defence lots of problems. I suspect that Ruy Ramos is willing to sacrifice some defensive stability in order to keep Yuto Ono in the starting line-up. Kazumichi Takagi was supreme last week, and while Gunma don’t have the individual talent that Iwata did, he will again have to be at the top of his game to marshal the Gifu defence.

Hiroaki Namba & Leo Mineiro

Thespakusatsu Gunma recent form:

  • 6/21 – Thespakusatsu Gunma 0-1 Mito Hollyhock
  • 6/14 – Thespakusatsu Gunma 1-1 Fagiano Okayama
  • 6/6 – Tochigi SC 5-1 Thespakusatsu Gunma
  • 5/31 – Thespakusatsu Gunma 2-0 JEF United

The visitors have blown hot and cold this year. Their two most recent victories have come against promotion chasing Jubilo Iwata & JEF United, but they’ve lost two of their last three with the defeats coming against Tochigi SC and Mito Hollyhock. Gunma’s man in form is young winger Ataru Esaka, their top scorer with 5 goals this year. They will look to rely on the experience of wily veterans Yuichiro Nagai and Yuki Matsushita to guide them along.

Recent history:

FC Gifu are actually unbeaten in the last five games against today’s opponents, and really should have done the double over them last year, but a Ryuichi Hirashige injury time equalizer secured a 2-2 draw in Gunma last season.

2014 season

  • FC Gifu 1-0 Thespakusatsu Gunma
  • Thespakusatsu Gunma 2-2 FC Gifu

This game is a “free admission” game for Gifu residents, and the weather is going to be fine so hopefully a large crowd will come down and see an FC Gifu win.


Public viewing for the JEF United game

On Saturday July 4, FC Gifu make the daunting trek to the Fukuda Denshi Arena to face Nejc Pecnik, Paulinho, Ado Onaiwu & promotion chasing JEF United Chiba. Those supporters (probably myself included) who are unable to make the trip to Chiba can watch the game at JR Gifu Station’s Active-G viewing area.

The club did the same thing last year as well, showing the away game against V-Varen Nagasaki on the big screen there. FC Gifu won that game 2-0, let’s hope the public can inspire another against the odds victory!

FC Gifu v ThespaKusatsu Gunma – free admission for Gifu residents

For Sunday’s game against Gunma, FC Gifu are implementing their free admission for Gifu residents plan. Last year they did it against V-Varen Nagasaki and it resulted in a crowd of over 13,000. This year, they are hoping the initiative will push the crowd above their current season average of 5,907. There will be 5,000 free tickets available on the day for the back stand, and if the weather is nice (currently 50% chance of rain though) there should be a decent crowd there – especially after the win last week.

See you there!


The bottom of J2

It was a mixed weekend for teams at the bottom. Here are the results from last week:

  • Jubilo Iwata 2-3 FC Gifu
  • Tokyo Verdy 0-2 Roasso Kumamoto
  • Kyoto Sanga 1-2 Tochigi SC
  • Thespa Kusatsu Gunma 0-1 Mito Hollyhock
  • Oita Trinita 0-1 JEF United
  • Cerezo Osaka 1-0 Tokushima Vortis

Very important away wins for Gifu, Mito & Kumamoto squeezed Tokushima down into 21st place and staring at the abyss. Another defeat for Oita keeps them rooted to the bottom – and two teams that were recently in J1 now occupy the bottom two slots of J2. Kyoto Sanga’s horrible season continued as they were toppled at home by mid-table Tochigi. Masahiro Wada has some serious problems there.

The bottom of J2 currently looks like this:

17 19 5 4 10 22 30 -8 19
18 19 4 6 9 15 27 -12 18
19 19 5 3 11 21 38 -17 18
20 19 4 5 10 15 22 -7 17
21 19 2 10 7 14 22 -8 16
22 19 2 7 10 17 26 -9 13

If Oita aren’t careful, they’re going to get cut-off soon – they desperately need a spark from somewhere. Can they get it this week? Here are the fixtures relevant to the battle at the bottom this week:

  • FC Gifu v Thespa Kusatsu Gunma
  • Mito Hollyhock v Yokohama FC
  • Tokushima Vortis v JEF United
  • Roasso Kumamoto v Kamatamare Sanuki
  • Zweigen Kanazawa v Kyoto Sanga
  • Consadole Sapporo v Oita Trinita (Monday night)

There are some difficult looking games for Oita, Tokushima & Kyoto and you’d think they’ll do well to get anything from those appointments. With Oita playing on Monday night, their worst case scenario is that they’ll be six points adrift of safety before they kick-off, although that assumes that all the teams above them win.

If FC Gifu follow up last week’s superb victory in Iwata with another win, they could start to build the confidence they need to drag themselves away from the drop zone. They still need to improve defensively although having Kazumichi Takagi back will help them immensely. Mito Hollyhock are another team that will grow in confidence with another win, and they have a winnable game at home to Milos Rus’ Yokohama FC. Roasso Kumamoto will also fancy their chances when they entertain Kamatamare Sanuki, who are winless in their last four outings.

It looks to be another nailbiting slate of games down in J2 this weekend.

FC Gifu’s new “supporter manager”

As is the trend these days in Japan, FC Gifu have appointed a cute young girl to act as the “supporter manager” – although what will happen is she will a focal point of PR activities.

The cute young lady in question is Nene Ito, a performer from the very popular idol group Nogizaka 46.


photo from www.fc-gifu.com

Ms. Ito is from Gifu and, interestingly, started on the road to stardom as part of the FC Gifu cheerleading group “Green Angels”. She said about this appointment:

  • “I’m very excited to get this chance to help FC Gifu and Gifu itself. When I was a junior high school student, I was in the Green Angels and I also used to come to games at the stadium. I can’t wait to start doing PR things for the club, it is very exciting!”

I look forward to meeting Miss Nene! If you want to follow her on twitter, you can at @nene_ito1212

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