FC Gifu’s pre-season training camp gets under way in Oita tomorrow. Plenty of new players to bed in, on field relationships to build and there are some key questions that will need answering in readiness for the new season. Here, in my view, are some of the more important ones.
Who starts in goal?
Gifu signed two goalkeepers in the winter, while letting go of three. The only link to last season is Shogo Tokihisa who ended the season as the first choice custodian. Gakuji Ota has come in from university and seems more like a future project rather than someone to start now. That leaves Takahiro Takagi who signed from Consadole Sapporo. Takagi hasn’t played much in the last few seasons so my money is on Tokihisa to start the opening J2 game.
Gifu were woeful in front of goal last year, only scoring 27 league goals. Koichi Sato, who scored 10 of those goals, is no longer at the club, so that leaves a big shortfall in goals to make up. Hiroyuki Sugimoto has come in from Thespa Kusatsu but that, plainly, is not going to be the solution. Probably what happens behind the striker is of more importance. Kazuki Someya will again be important on the left side and hopefully Jinushizono will fully recover from his broken leg. When fit, Jinushizono is a good, energetic midfielder with the propensity to get forward. The new youngsters Hirano and Kiyomoto could be wildcards. Both come in with reports of being skillful, creative with a touch a flair. That is exactly what the team needs. How they fare in camp will be a good indicator as to how much they will utilized when the season starts.
A role for Desmond
Desmond has come in from Fujieda in the JFL. He is still young, but has a lot of experience already. I was a little bit surprised when he arrived because Gifu seemed pretty set in defence. This has made me wonder whether Desmond is earmarked for a slightly more advanced role. At first glance he seems to have the requisite size and physicality for a role just in front of the (presumed) back four. Hattori won’t be able to play all games due to his age so there would appear to a chance for someone to slip in alongside new signing Atsushi Mio.