Gainare’s last stand? Or will they live to fight another weekend? They head to Giravanz KItakyushu knowing that defeat will condemn them to bottom place in J2 and a two-legged play-off with Kamatamare Sanuki to see who will be in J2 next year.
Gainare were so close to getting the victory they craved last week, but they had to settle for a 1-1 drawn which leaves their fate out of their hands. They have no fresh injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s game, but their recent record against Kitakyushu is not promising for them. In their five J.League meetings thus far, Giravanz have won four times with Gainare scoring just the one win. There hasn’t a draw between them.
The fact that this isn’t a straight relegation fight is testament to the job that Koichi Hashiratani has done at Honjo Stadium. With almost a completely new squad, he has moulded them, after a decidedly dodgy start, into a half decent team. Led by the impressive duo of Tomoki Ikemoto and Koki Kotegawa, the Sunflower Club have developed a nice, positive style and will prove a difficult nut for Gainare to crack.