Still anchored to the bottom of the table, FC Gifu head west to the fine city of Fukuoka to face Avispa Fukuoka at the Level 5 stadium.
Gifu still have a host of injury concerns, the latest being Desmond who was subbed last week at Mito after appearing to pull his hamstring. The latest reports from Gifu have him at the training ground but it is uncertain as to how much he is actually doing. Also Hiroshi Sekita has been ruled out for a number of weeks. From being the only ‘strong’ area of the team, defence has suddenly become a bit thin. Luckily Shun Nogaito is making his way back from injury and Moriyasu & Sugiyama can play there too. Up front, Kohei Nakashima is still out so Hiroki Higuchi will look to find his scoring boots. I hope Hiroyuki Sugimoto plays, but I can’t see it.
Avispa are coming into this game on the back of a hard-earned win at Kataller Toyama last week. Daisuke Ishizu is their man in form having scored three goals in his last two outings. They also have the ever dangerous Hisashi Jogo who, in my opinion, is one of the best players in this league. Brazilian forward Osmar is serving his one game suspension for this match. Avispa are in pretty reasonable form having lost only two of their last ten games – those defeats coming against Matsumoto Yamaga & Gamba Osaka.
Avispa’s new coach Marijan Pusnik has turned the club around this year. Last year, in the second half of the year especially, they were woeful. There were also rumours of financial problems around the club based upon their falling attendances, but they have put those to the side this year and currently sit in a credible 10th place.
The corresponding game last year was a 0-0 draw, something that I’m sure coach Koji Gyotoku would gladly take.
Match details: Avispa Fukuoka v FC Gifu, Level 5 Stadium Fukuoka, KO 4pm