This week’s edition of this column is a fairly easy one as the two other relegation threatened teams are playing each other.
Gainare Tottori v Thespa Kusatsu Gunma (4pm KO)
To say that Gainare are drinking in the last chance saloon would be a fairly accurate description. I don’t know what kind of events/PR the Tottori club have been doing this week, but I hope they have been vigorous at them. They need the Torigin Stadium to be full & rocking, and for their players to be 100% up for this game – they would do well to realize that a lot of livelihoods are on the line now. Thespa on the other hand know they will be safe with a win, but they also know that if they don’t get a win then games against title chasing Gamba Osaka & Vissel Kobe loom large on the horizon.
Gainare go into this game having not won any of their previous seventeen (yes, seventeen) games; their last win came on July 7th in Yamagata while their last home win came against Matsumoto Yamaga on June 1st. If ever there was a time when they needed Genki Nagasato & Yuichi Kubo to fire, then this is it. The duo have talent, but haven’t been consistent. They absolutely must turn up if they are to get anything from this game.
The difference between relegation and survival for Thespa? Probably Ryuichi Hirashige. Another goal last week took his season’s tally to 12 – four times as many as anyone else in the Thespa squad. He has also chipped in with 5 assists so he has had a direct involvement with 17 of Thespa’s 39 league goals. Without him, they would be in quite a worse state.
It is going to be a huge game in Tottori. Will 6pm be closing time for Gainare in J2? Or will they get an extension?