Crunch time at the foot of J2, and Gifu can conceivably seal their J2 status for next year with a win here and a defeat for Gainare Tottori.
Coming off the back of a steely effort in Yamagata last week, there are question marks about the defence. Hiroshi Sekita picked up another little injury, but he was almost certain to be replaced by Tatsuya Arai anyway, after Arai sat out the Montedio game through suspension. Shuto Tanaka was taken off in the first half last week, but should be fine for Sunday. Other than that, it is clean bill of health for Gifu so I would assume that Stipe & Nakamura will continue up front.
For the visitors, Kazuhito Watanabe is suspended after being sent off in last week’s draw against Mito Hollyhock. The midfielder has been in and out of the side this year but they could miss his presence in midfield. One Ehime player I really like is Masaru Kato. The young attacking midfielder has eight goals and five assists this season, is a dead ball specialist, and generally looks to have some stardust sprinkled on him. Gifu will have to watch Kato very closely indeed.
It is worth noting that, although most people would consider this a winnable game for Gifu (especially given the circumstances both teams find themselves in), Gifu have only beaten Ehime once in the J.League and that was back in 2009. In the previous meeting this season Shogo Tokihisa was the hero as he saved a late Tomic penalty, to go along with a missed penalty in the first half, as Gifu escaped with 0-0 draw.