I’m a Gifu fan, but I’ve also become fond of the JFL and the teams that compromise the league. I was fortunate enough to be able to see JFL side AC Nagano Parceiro’s Emperor’s cup game against Nagoya Grampus which was played at the quaint Nagoya port stadium.

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There were plenty of Parceiro fans who had made the trip (or I assume they made the actual trip, as opposed to them being based in Nagoya) from Nagano for the game, almost all clad in bright orange. Not even the threat of rain was enough to keep them from going behind the uncovered goal, although some smart cookies had wisely taken a place underneath the scoreboard.

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Nagoya left out some of their “star” players like Tulio, Tamada & Kennedy but they boasted a sprinkling of internationals in Narazaki, Nagai and Fujimoto. But Nagano weren’t overawed and in fact took the game to their J1 opponents. The first 15 minutes was highly entertaining and included chances at both ends – one for Nagai which was blocked, and one for Parceiro’s Unozawa which was deflected away.

And then it came. The goal that the vociferous away support craved, and the goal that stunned the stadium. A nice move was worked down the right hand side by Takano & Sato. Sato made his away across the edge of the penalty area before striking a right foot shot into the bottom corner that beat Narazaki. Cue elation from the Parceiro fans, staff and disbelief from the Grampus faithful. Parceiro took a hold on the game and it was they who looked like the full time team as they sprayed passes around and kept the ball easily enough. When Nagoya did threaten, the chemistry between Nagai, Yakimovski and Kisho Yano was non-existant and they kept mis-placing passes, botching runs etc. They were woeful.

Parceiro got the second goal their performance deserved just before half time when Arinaga made the most of some space in the area to prod home and double the away sides lead. And boy were they full value for it.

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It was little surprise that Nagoya came out for the second half noticably quicker and sharper. Fujimoto and Yano in particular looked menacing and they created a couple of half chances, and Yano was a particular danger from corners, and it was from corner that he thundered a header on to the post. Nagoya were in the ascendency, but they were deflated when right back Ishibitsu was sent off for kicking out at a Parceiro player. It was stupid as he had already won a free-kick, but off he went and Nagoya struggled to retain control. Parceiro passed the ball about beautifully, taking the steam out of the hosts. They could have scored a goal for the ages, but after a passing move that must have included 50 passes, a Nagano forward blasted over from 7 yards out.

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The final whistle was greeted with massive celebrations amongst the ranks of Parceiro fans, and the Grampus sportingly stayed around show their appreciation of their efforts. The players joined the fans in a victory dance and savoured their moment in the sun.

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In one of the quirks of the draw, Parceiro will be back in Nagoya for their 3rd round game against Giravanz Kitakyushu. If they play like they did against Grampus, they will stand a great chance of going through to next round.

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