Gifu entertain high-flying Avispa Fukuoka on Saturday looking to gain valuable points in their survival battle.
There has been of flurry of activity at the club in the past week or so, with the arrival of three new players: Yuki Nakamura, Kayne Vincent & Do Dong-Hyun. This could provide a timely boost to the meagre squad that Gifu has. Yuki Nakamura will be eligible to play, but the international clearance of Do & Vincent are yet to be confirmed. In other team news, captain Hattori is back from suspension and will slot straight back into defensive midfield. Shuto Tanaka is more-or-less fit again and he could replace Arai at the back. Many will be hoping that he can replicate his stunning goal from the reverse fixture.
Avispa have surprised a lot of people, myself included. They were a mess last year both on the pitch and, if reports were to be believed, financially too. They opted for the little-known Marijan Pusnik to take charge of the team and it has proved to be a good decision. Avispa currently lie in sixth position after seeing off play-off rivals Tochigi SC at the Level 5 last week. I’ve said on more than a few occasions that Fukuoka forward Hisashi Jogo is one of my favourite players. He is everything a talisman should be. He is firstly a very, very good player that has turned down overtures from other clubs to stay in Fukuoka. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that he plays a lot out wide, supporting from the wings. Secondly, he will do anything for the team, as his stint in goal in the infamous Roasso Kumamoto game showed. Avispa also have other options up front like Go Nishida & Daisuke Sakata. I think Jun Kanakubo is back from suspension and he looks a good player when he is on form. All in all, they look a very decent team that on their day can give any team a run for their money.
It is going to be a difficult game for Gifu, but one they should approach with the will to get something out of it. Avispa are up in the top six on merit and are not to be taken lightly, but Gifu must start winning games at home if they are to get out of danger. They have beaten Nagasaki at Nagaragawa, so there is no reason why they can’t beat Avispa too.
*For the Fukuoka view, be sure to have a look at Avispa Eigo