FC Gifu bowed out of the 93rd Emperor’s Cup after a 2-1 defeat at fellow J2 side Fagiano Okayama.
Instead of saving key players for the crucial games coming up, Gifu fielded more-or-less their starting 11 with Stippe playing up front with Mio supporting him.
Gifu went one behind in the 20th minute when young midfielder Yuzuru Shimada put the home side in front. Things got worse for Gifu when Hiroshi Sekita was sent off just after the half hour and Fagiano compounded the misery by going 2-0 up thanks to a goal from Tetsushi Kondo.
Gifu pulled one back after half time through talisman Kazuki Someya but despite the introduction of Ilijovski & Hiroki Higuchi, Gifu couldn’t force an equalizer.
The Emperor’s Cup is not so important in the grand scheme of things for Gifu (and maybe for Fagiano, considering the measly crowd of under 3000). Much more important games are on the immediate horizon – Thespa Kusatsu Gunma next week and Gainare Tottori the following week. It. is these games, and NOT cup games, that will have the influence on Gifu’s season and their future.