Gifu head to the Torigin Stadium in high spirits after their dramatic victory over V-Varen Nagasaki last week, but have been dealt a blow in defence.

Desmond has been given a leave of absence and has returned to Italy and that is all the information that has been given to us. Shun Nogaito will likely step into Desmond’s place with Masato Yamazaki moving into midfield. Elsewhere it should be the same unit that played so well against Nagasaki.

Gainare promised much before the season, but have reverted to type by languishing near the bottom. Hopes were high when they brought in attacking players Genki Nagasato from Kofu and Masao Tsuji from JFL side YSCC but they failed to address their defensive frailties (last year they conceded 75 goals) and so have been in freefall after a decent start. The 6-0 home defeat by Montedio Yamagata seems to have been a watershed moment and they have won two out of three since to ease some of the pressure. Expect Kubo to lead the line with Nagasato playing off him.

I expect a pretty tight game, but this is a game that is winnable for Gifu. How they deal with Desmond’s absence will be the key. Takagi, Des & Masuyama had given them a solid base to build from and hopefully Shun will slot right in.

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