FC Gifu turned the form book on its head as they deservedly saw off already promoted Matsumoto on an emotional day by the Nagara river.
FC Gifu starting XI: Kawaguchi, Fukaya, Kitani, Sekita, Masuyama, Alex Santos, Henik, Mizuno, Takachi, Namba, Nazarit
The game was really open from the start, and fans of both clubs were clearly up for it. It was Gifu who drew first blood, and it was a wonder goal from a striker who has shown the midas touch this year. Hiroaki Namba picked the ball up just inside the Matsumoto half and dribbled to around 25 yards out before unleashing an unstoppable blast into the top corner which left Yamaga ‘keeper Murayama glued to the ground. A sensational strike. But as we all know by now, Gifu are most vulnerable after they score and so it proved again as Hiroki Yamamoto latched on to a through ball before placing the ball confidently past Kawaguchi.
It looked as if it was going to be level at half time until Gifu struck in the 45th minute to re-take the lead. Keiji Takachi’s lofted through ball found Nazarit in the box and he did what he does best – namely turn the ball into the net. It was a huge boost to the side to go in the 2nd half in front.
Both sides had chances to score in the opening stages of the second half. Takachi nearly scored a beauty of his own, but his curled shot went over while, at the other end, Takayuki Funayama was denied by a desperate clearance by Namba (of all people!) and Hiroshi Sekita headed just over his own bar.
The crowd got a huge lift in the 70th minute when Atsushi Mio came on in his final home appearance and within a minute of him coming on, Gifu made the game safe through a very unusual source. Keiji Takachi skipped down the wing and when his cross was beaten out to the edge of the area, Masashi Miyazawa lashed the ball into the top corner to register his FIRST GOAL IN EIGHT YEARS!!!
Gifu held on to the lead to register their first home win against Matsumoto, and provided a perfect home send-off for Kosuke Kitani & Atsushi Mio. Everybody played their part in this game, but it was Nazarit who once again proved Gifu’s spark, showing pace, presence & enthusiasm for the challenge. I sincerely hope he stays next year, but Gifu will do well to hold on to him as he won’t be short of offers.
Gifu head to Kyoto next week to finish off the season. What would probably have been a dead rubber (given that Kyoto are out of play-off contention) has been given an interesting new twist with some news reports in today’s papers. More on that in a soon-to-come post…..