Gifu head into this difficult trip having recently re-found their shooting & scoring boots, but with injury concerns. Ri Han Jae was forced off in the first half of the defeat against Kataller Toyama on Wednesday and so far there has been no news about him. They say “no news is good news” but Ri’s injury looked like a muscle strain of some kind and those don’t tend to clear up in 3 days. Ri’s absence could mean that Tsukasa Masuyama moves into midfield and Tatsuya Arai could step in at centre back. Shun Nogaito is touch and go for this game. New signing Makoto Shibahara will look to force himself into the matchday squad.
Tochigi currently sit in sixth place after having won three of their last four. They are not the “sexiest” team in that they don’t have many star names, but hey have some very good players. The forward duo of Yusuke Kondo & Koji Hirose will give the Gifu defence a severe test and in Cristiano they have someone who is willing and capable to shoot from almost anywhere he sees fit. He gets a lot of power behind his shots and he seems to generate some wild movement, something Shogo Tokihisa will have to be aware of.
All in all, this will be a very difficult game for Gifu against a team who will more than likely be pushing for the play-offs come seasons end.
Details: Tochigi SC v FC Gifu, Tochigi Green Stadium, KO 1pm