In the latest of my semi-regular series on Gifu’s opponents, Oita Trinita are next in my sights.
Who are they?
Based in the east of Kyushu, Oita Trinita represent a prefecture that is more famous for onsens (hot springs) and seafood than for football.
Where do they play?
They play at the frankly way too big Oita Bank Dome. The stadium seats around 40,000 but average gates hover around 25% of that. The stadium itself was built in time for the 2002 World Cup and hosted three group games.
Who’s in charge?
Kazuaki Tasaka, and he’s had eventful few years in charge to say the least. In 2012 he led the club to 6th place in J2, enough to participate in the inaugural J2 play-offs. The faced 3rd placed Kyoto Sanga away from home, but battered them 4-0 thanks to an astonishing four goal blast from Yasuhito Morishima. They then faced JEF United in the final, and a late, late winner meant that they beat JEF 1-0 and that they would play in J1 in 2013. That 2013 season turned in to something of a nightmare as they were wholly outclassed. finishing with just 2 wins and whopping 24 defeats.
Who are the main players?
Toshiya Suehiro arrived from Sagan Tosu in the winter and has firmly established himself as prominent in the first team. He is an ever present this year, taking the spot of Masashi Miyazawa who of course is now at FC Gifu. Other regulars include fellow midfielder Daisuke Ito, central defender Akihiro Sakata and up and coming playmaker Koya Kazama.
How do they play?
They play a pretty normal 4-4-1-1 formation, with Kazama acting as the link between the midfield and forward line. The other forward has recently been Korean Choi Jung Han, but at other times has been youngster Yusuke Goto. It will be interesting to see Gifu use the same 3 “Volante’s” and how they stack up against Oita’s midfield.
How are they doing this year?
Not too badly, currently lying in 6th place. Of course, Gifu have played the 4th & 5th placed teams in the last two weeks, so it makes sense to play the 6th placed team. Oita were probably looking at the play-offs at the beginning of the year and look well placed. But it is so even around the upper middle of the table that many teams think they are looking good for the play-offs.