Sorry for the lack of updates on here recently, a case of real life overpowering FC Gifu! But, don’t despair as I bring you excellent tidings from the 95th Emperor’s Cup!

FC Gifu 2-1 Kwansei Gakuin University (AET)

It was a close one, but Gifu just about managed to see off the youthful exuberance of the acclaimed Kwansei University team. Gifu’s lineup showed the need to rotate the squad at this time of year; there was no Takachi, no Namba, no Henik, no Watanabe, and no Kazama (the latter two possibly due to the terms of their loan deals).

Gifu took a first half lead when Keisuke Ota followed up on a blocked shot to score his first goal for…..well, a long time. In the second half, the weather deteriorated and the heavy legs of Gifu started to fall away, and it wasn’t really a surprise when the students equalized, Takuya Fukutomi bundling in at the far post.

In extra time, it was KGU that looked like the team that would win it, squandering numerous chances as Gifu visibly tired. But, seemingly out of nowhere, Shun Nogaito surged into the area and was chopped down resulting in a penalty with less than two minutes to go. Leo Mineiro stepped up and coolly sent the keeper the wrong way to book Gifu’s passage into round two.

Ruy Ramos wasn’t particularly happy after the game, bemoaning that it took such an effort to beat a university team. But he must be reasonably happy that he was able to rest so many players and still get through. Whether he will rest the same players for the next round, where they travel to JEF United Chiba, will be interesting to see.

Thespa Kusatsu Gunma 1-2 FC Gifu Second

One of the stories of this round was FC Gifu Second, of the Tokai regional league, going to J2 side Thespa Kusatsu Gunma and winning – just as the top team did on the previous Wednesday.

Second, coached by Ramos’ son Fabiano, took a swift two goal lead – goal coming from Yuya Mori and Toshihiko Kida. Gunma pulled one goal back in the second half, but Second stood firm and claimed a famous victory. Massive props go to Fabiano Ramos and Masayuki Katsuno, the two brains behind this side. There are good young players coming through this team, and it is to be hoped that some of them will follow the path of Ryoto Higa, Junki Endo and Yun Chang Soo but graduating to the top team.

The reward for FC Gifu Second is a trip to another J2 side – Tokushima Vortis. The top team have already lost there this season, so Fabiano will be looking to get one over on his dad – that would be a sight to behold!