Gifu’s last home game, and it is a very important one for both sides. Obviously Gifu are still fighting for J2 survival, but Consadole come to town eyeing a play-off spot.
It is quite possible that the focus will be on Toshihiro Hattori, seeing as it is his last home game before his retirement, but as the true professional he is, he won’t let that distract the team from its primary aim – namely the win that would secure their J2 status for next year. Gifu have suspension problems (yet again) as Blazhe (grossly unfairly red-carded last time out) and Mr. Gifu himself Shun Nogaito (yellow cards) miss out. I would think Shuto Tanaka replaces Shun in the starting line-up, while Blazhe’s bench place could go to either Sugimoto or Mizuno.
Consadole themselves will be without a couple of forwards due to suspension with the giant Brazilian Ferro and Shunsuke Maeda both having to miss the trip to Gifu. Consadole come armed with one of the premier strikers in the division in the form of Yoshihiro Uchimura, scorer of 15 goals this year. He has proved a handful for most defences in J2 this year, and will be the focal point of the team. He will probably be assisted by Vietnamese star Le Cong Vinh, who scored the winner against Vissel Kobe last weekend.
Gifu have lost the last three encounters between the two sides, including the defeat at Atsubetsu Park earlier this year when the defence had a collective nightmare game, and haven’t beaten Sapporo since 2010. It will take a huge effort to avoid defeat in this game, but maybe the Hattori-effect will spur them into a performance. I would expect a big crowd, and I hope they get a big performance.