You may have read somewhere that FC Gifu have signed a lot of older/experienced players this winter. It is true: Kawaguchi, Santos, Miyazawa, Ota, Namba, Takachi, Fukaya are all past 30 years young. However, hidden amongst the experienced players are a smattering of youngsters who are eager to prove their worth to the club and who will be looking to play a lot for the first team this year. Here is a brief introduction to them.
Tomohiro Tanaka (23) – Forward
After enjoying a fine season with FC Gifu Second last year, Tanaka makes the step up to the top team. 10 goals in the Tokai League was enough to convince the Gifu staff to take a chance on him. He started his career in the Avispa Fukuoka academy before opting to attend Fukuoka University. Whilst studying there, he went to Spain to train with Hurucan Valencia, a Spanish Segunda League side as part of an exchange programme. Gifu snapped him up, and he went on to be part of the highly successful Second team last year. He displayed an eye for a goal and a calmness that will hopefully serve him well in the first team squad.
Junki Endo (19) – Attacking midfielder
A team-mate of Tanaka’s last year, it took Endo a little longer to make the jump up to the first team, but he did so just in time to join the pre-season tour to Oita. Listed as a forward, but probably better suited to a deeper role, (although I should qualify that by saying that I’ve only seen him on a few occasions) Endo chipped in with 5 goals in the Tokai League last year and assisted a few more. He hails from the same city as fellow young gun Kiyomoto and will possibly be battling with him for a place in the team/squad on matchdays. Still a teenager, hopefully he will be given time to settle in before having any pressure placed upon his young shoulders.
Takumi Kiyomoto (20) – attacking midfielder/winger
Used sparingly and infrequently by the last two coaches, Gifu native Kiyomoto will be looking to make much more of an impact in his second season. Looks lightweight, but given the ball he can drift past players with ease. His cause wasn’t helped playing in a predominantly losing side last year, and also wasn’t helped when he was brought on as a sub, only to be taken off at a later juncture. The youngster went to Europe as a high school student and spent time in the youth system of Dutch giants Feyenoord before moving back to his home prefecture. He should benefit from the experienced players around him, and if he listens to their advice & encouragement he can hopefully turn the promise into performances.
Tiago (19) – forward
Tiago has joined on loan from near neighbours Nagoya Grampus after failing to make an impact in Dragan Stoijkovic’s final season in charge there. He didn’t make any appearances for the Grampus top team last year, so he comes in as a bit of a mystery player. Still, listed at over 180cm, he looks big enough and built enough to give defenders a problem.
Do Dong Hyun (20) – midfield
Do came in from Brisbane Roar in Australia halfway through last season, but didn’t really get a chance to show what he can do. In the very limited playing time he got, he looked athletic, full of energy and looked like he wanted to play in an attacking role. I think Stipe will occupy the main attacking midfielder role, but Do looks like he could be useful against big, but not so athletic, defenders and he would be especially effective against tired players. I expect him to be used more as we move into summer.
So there you have it. Five young guns that should be ready and willing to make their mark for FC Gifu this season.