Emperor’s Cup – JEF United Chiba v FC Gifu

After winning their first Emperor’s Cup game in what seems like an eternity, Gifu are rewarded with a trip to face fellow J2 outfit JEF United Chiba. It is a bit early in the week for team news, so I’ll just provide a few stats regarding the teams.

FC Gifu recent away form:

  • 7/26 – Omiya Ardija: Lost 0-5
  • 8/15 – Cerezo Osaka: Lost 0-1
  • 8/23 – Tochigi SC: Won 1-0
  • 8/26 – ThespaKusatsu Gunma: Won 1-0

Defensively, Gifu are a completely different team than the one that capitulated to Omiya back in July. A lot of that has to do with the effect that Masaki Watanabe has had, and also the form of Satoshi Tokizawa in goal. Both of these players missed out in the opening round (Watanabe possibly through the terms of his loan contract, Tokizawa was rested) so it will be interesting to see if Tokizawa returns for this game.

Ramos’ calculated gamble of leaving out many first teamers on Sunday just about worked, but I don’t think they’ll be as fortunate against JEF. I expect to see Keiji Takachi come back in, Henik too. I’m not sure what the plans are for Hiroaki Namba, but it wouldn’t surprise if Gilsinho was given a start.

Gilsinho came on to make his debut
Gilsinho could start against Chiba

JEF United recent home form:

  • 7/26 – Roasso Kumamoto: Lost 2-3
  • 8/1 – Tokushima Vortis: Won 1-0
  • 8/15 – V-Varen Nagasaki: Drew 1-1

A veritable mixed bag of home results for the Fukuda Denshi Arena based team. But last year’s Emperor’s Cup run for them was a different story.

2014 Emperor’s Cup results – JEF United:

  • 1st round – JEF United 3-2 Nagano Parceiro
  • 2nd round – Kashiwa Reysol 1-1 JEF United (JEF win on pens)
  • 3rd round – V-Varen Nagasaki 1-2 JEF United
  • Quarter final – Cerezo Osaka 0-1 JEF United
  • Semi final – JEF United 2-3 Montedio Yamagata

So JEF do have some very recent history in this competition, and they’ll be eyeing this game as a chance to progress into the later rounds once again.

JEF United vs FC Gifu history in Chiba:

  • 2010 – JEF United 2-0 FC Gifu
  • 2011 – JEF United 3-1 FC Gifu
  • 2012 – JEF United 0-1 FC Gifu
  • 2013 – JEF United 1-1 FC Gifu
  • 2014 – JEF United 1-0 FC Gifu
  • 2015 – JEF United 3-1 FC Gifu

Last time?

  • Gifu gave a very good account of themselves in the first half, going ahead via a Hiroaki Namba header and having numerous other chances. But, as is often the way with Gifu, they conceded a soft goal right on half time, and Chiba dominated the second half and deservedly ran out 3-1 winners, Necj Pecnik putting the icing on the cake with JEF’s third of the day.

Emperor’s Cup roundup

Sorry for the lack of updates on here recently, a case of real life overpowering FC Gifu! But, don’t despair as I bring you excellent tidings from the 95th Emperor’s Cup!

FC Gifu 2-1 Kwansei Gakuin University (AET)

It was a close one, but Gifu just about managed to see off the youthful exuberance of the acclaimed Kwansei University team. Gifu’s lineup showed the need to rotate the squad at this time of year; there was no Takachi, no Namba, no Henik, no Watanabe, and no Kazama (the latter two possibly due to the terms of their loan deals).

Gifu took a first half lead when Keisuke Ota followed up on a blocked shot to score his first goal for…..well, a long time. In the second half, the weather deteriorated and the heavy legs of Gifu started to fall away, and it wasn’t really a surprise when the students equalized, Takuya Fukutomi bundling in at the far post.

In extra time, it was KGU that looked like the team that would win it, squandering numerous chances as Gifu visibly tired. But, seemingly out of nowhere, Shun Nogaito surged into the area and was chopped down resulting in a penalty with less than two minutes to go. Leo Mineiro stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to book Gifu’s passage into round two.

Ruy Ramos wasn’t particularly happy after the game, bemoaning that it took such an effort to beat a university team. But he must be reasonably happy that he was able to rest so many players and still get through. Whether he will rest the same players for the next round, where they travel to JEF United Chiba, will be interesting to see.

Thespa Kusatsu Gunma 1-2 FC Gifu Second

One of the stories of this round was FC Gifu Second, of the Tokai regional league, going to J2 side Thespa Kusatsu Gunma and winning – just as the top team did on the previous Wednesday.

Second, coached by Ramos’ son Fabiano, took a swift two goal lead – goal coming from Yuya Mori and Toshihiko Kida. Gunma pulled one goal back in the second half, but Second stood firm and claimed a famous victory. Massive props go to Fabiano Ramos and Masayuki Katsuno, the two brains behind this side. There are good young players coming through this team, and it is to be hoped that some of them will follow the path of Ryoto Higa, Junki Endo and Yun Chang Soo but graduating to the top team.

The reward for FC Gifu Second is a trip to another J2 side – Tokushima Vortis. The top team have already lost there this season, so Fabiano will be looking to get one over on his dad – that would be a sight to behold!

Tochigi SC 0-1 FC Gifu

There is a pulse! Gifu are still on life support in J2, but their chance of survival received a huge shot in the arm after an own goal gave them a huge win at fellow relegation candidates Tochigi SC.

FC Gifu starting XI: Tokizawa, Masuyama, Watanabe, Okane, Nogaito, Miyazawa, Henik, Kazama, Takachi, Leo Mineiro, Namba.

Tochigi started off on the front foot, and it took a good block from Satoshi Tokizawa in the tenth minute to keep the score blank. Gifu did show signs of attack. Henik, never one to shy away from a long range effort, skied a shot from 30 yards just on the half hour. Hiroaki Namba, currently in a goal drought, had a chance to end that just before half time, but his close range effort was blocked by the Tochigi keeper.

Half time came with the game goalless, but that changed in the 60th minute, when Gifu snatched a priceless goal. Koya Kazama’s dangerous cross from the right was inadvertently glanced into his own net by Tochigi defender Lee Joo Young and Gifu had the lead they craved.

Tokizawa had to make a good save from a Sakano free-kick to preserve the lead, but preserve it they did and the three points took them level with Oita and within four of Tochigi with a game in hand.

Gifu’s defensive situation has improved since the Omiya game, and they’ll need that to continue as they play their game in hand, against Gunma, on Wednseday night. A win there, and Gifu’s pulse will be racing…..

Thespa Kusatsu Gunma v FC Gifu

Gifu head to the famous hot spring area with a spring in their step after coming away from Sunday’s must win game in Tochigi with a win.


FC Gifu current form and condition:

  • 8/23 v Tochigi SC (A) – won 1-0
  • 8/15 v Cerezo Osaka (A) – lost 0-1
  • 8/8 v Roasso Kumamoto (H) – lost 0-1
  • 7/26 v Omiya Ardija (A) – lost 0-5


  • The last time an FC Gifu player scored for the team was on July 18th, when Kazumichi Takagi’s 95th minute goal rescued a point against Zweigen Kanazawa.
  • The goals in Gifu’s last two wins (against Jubilo & Tochigi) were courtesy of own goals
  • Gifu’s last three games have been decided by the only goal of the game, indicating increased tightness at the back, but sacrificing some attacking intent

Team news:

  • FC Gifu will be without forward Leo Mineiro and versatile defender Shun Nogaito due to suspension
  • Taisuke Mizuno is still out with an injured elbow

Football Lab’s predicted starting XI is: Tokizawa, Masuyama, Watanabe, Okane, Fuji, Henik, Aoki, Sunakawa, Kazama, Takachi, Namba

GK Tomii prepares to take a goal-kick last time the teams met.

Thespa Kusatsu Gunma form and condition:

  • 8/23 v Omiya Ardija (A) – drew 1-1
  • 8/15 v Zweigen Kanazawa (H) – won 1-0
  • 8/8 v Kamatamare Sanuki (A) – won 1-0
  • 7/26 v Oita Trinita (A) – lost 0-2

Info & Stats:

  • Gunma have yet to be a side in the bottom two this year: they’ve drawn and lost against Oita, while they were fortunate to escape with a draw when they came to Gifu earlier in the summer
  • On the flip side, they are adept at holding their own against the top clubs in the league: so far this year they’ve beaten JEF United (twice), Jubilo (away), Cerezo (away) and they took a point from Omiya last week.
  • Gunma have lost only twice in their last ten games, those were back to back defeats in Kyushu against Nagasaki & Oita.
  • Their top goalscorer is the exciting Ataru Esaka with 9 goals this year. He scored when Gunma drew in Gifu

Team news:

  • Centre back Daichi Inui is suspended for this game
  • Brazilian Tanque is still out injured

Football Lab’s predicted starting XI is: Tomii, Aoki, Arizono, Koyanagi, Kobayashi, Sakai, Matsushita, Oliveira, Kobayashi, Yoshihama, Esaka

Relegation battle is heating up

These are the results from the bottom of J2 from last weekend:

  • Cerezo Osaka 1-0 FC Gifu
  • Tochigi SC 2-1 Yokohama FC
  • Kyoto Sanga 2-1 Oita Trinita
  • Mito Hollyhock 0-1 Kamatmare Sanuki

Huge wins for Kyoto Sanga and Tochigi SC. Kyoto’s win, on the back of goals by Yuta Ito and Masashi Oguro, has taken them 6 points clear of Oita and out of relegation trouble until further notice. Tochigi SC were the latest team to take advantage Milos Rus’ woefully out of form side, Akito Kawamoto getting what turned out to be the winner in the 38th minute. Gifu’s defeat can be read about in detail here, while Mito’s poor form continues – they’ve won only once in their last five outings.

These results mean the table looks like this:

19 29 7 9 13 26 31 -5 30
20 29 7 9 13 27 38 -11 30
21 29 5 11 13 27 35 -8 26
22 28 6 5 17 26 53 -27 23

Next weekend’s fixtures look something like this:

  • Tochigi SC v FC Gifu
  • Giravanz Kitakyushu v Mito Hollyhock
  • Oita Trinita v Cerezo Osaka

The game at Tochigi’s Green Stadium has the potential to be an absolutely pivotal game for both sides. Should Tochigi win, they can breathe very easily knowing there is a 10 point gap between them and Gifu, but a win for Ruy Ramos’ men will invigorate Gifu’s season and give them hope going into the final quarter of the year. Mito’s task looks difficult on paper as Giravanz have won their last two games, while Oita Trinita find themselves facing a Cerezo Osaka side that has taken 10 points from the last 15 available and are gunning for promotion.

Cerezo Osaka 1-0 FC Gifu

A hot and sunny Kincho Stadium

Another defeat, this time at the hands of a team looking for promotion, leaves FC Gifu desperately trying to figure out how they can get out relegation hell.


FC Gifu starting XI: Tokizawa, Abe, Okane, Watanabe, Nogaito, Aoki, Henik, Sunakawa, Takachi, Kazama, Namba

FC Gifu had already survived a half hearted penalty shout when Cerezo claimed handball against Makoto Sunakawa before the hosts were awarded a spot kick after just 10 minutes. Some neat interplay on the Cerezo right led to Sakemoto apparently being brought down by Nogaito, but the replays showed that the contact was minimal at best. Still, those things go against you when you are at the foot of the table, and it was no surprise to see ex-Nagoya forward Keiji Tamada slot his penalty right down the centre of the goal.

Tamada puts Cerezo 1-0 up

After this, the game seemed to settle into a slower pace, possibly due to the fact that the game, despite kicking off at 7pm, was being played in some serious humidity. Gifu broke dangerously a couple of times, once when Keiji Takachi drove into the area but his cross was diverted behind. Cerezo looked to spread the ball wide at every opportunity, and Pablo did a good job finding that space and causing problems for Masanori Abe. Pablo came close to adding a second for Cerezo, but his free-kick flashed just wide.

Masanori Abe gets a talking to from the referee

Home ‘keeper Tanno had to be aware as Henik let fly from 25 yards out, but the custodian got over to tip the ball over the bar. The half ended with Cerezo coming close, Japanese international Hotaru Yamaguchi firing just past the post.

Gifu in their pre-kick off huddle

The second half started with Gifu on top, and they missed a glorious chance to level things just two minutes into the half. A nice passing move saw Hiroaki Namba get into space on the left and his cross beautifully picked out Koya Kazama but, with all the goal to aim at, he put his header wide. It was THE chance for Gifu and unfortunately it went begging again.

Gifu players get ready for a corner
Gifu players get ready for a corner

Just after this, Cerezo’s Yusuke Maruhashi looked pretty lucky to only receive a yellow when he seemed to kick Masanori Abe on the floor. Naoya Okane was also booked in the same incident for coming in and fanning the flames. He needs to learn to calm down a bit.

Gifu brought on Gilsinho & Leo Mineiro to spark their attack, but it was Cerezo’s Brazilian signing Edmilson who really should have put the game to bed but he inexplicably missed an open goal from six yards out. Gifu tried to apply pressure in the closing stages but only really had a long range Leo Mineiro effort to show for their exertions.

Gilsinho came on to make his debut
Gilsinho came on to make his debut

Another defeat, and now Gifu run the real risk of getting cut adrift at the bottom. We now sit three points behind Oita Trinita, who also lost at the weekend, but we are seven points behind Tochigi SC and Mito. Gifu travel to Tochigi next week knowing that a defeat is almost unthinkable, but a win is almost a necessity.


Gifu supporters will continue their efforts
Gifu supporters will continue their efforts

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