Ruy Ramos’ men made it three league wins in a row after a spirited victory against a decent visiting side.
FC Gifu starting XI: Tokizawa, Abe, Watanabe, Okane, Fuji, Henik, Takachi, Gilsinho, Kazama, Leo Mineiro, Namba
This, I think, is Gifu’s strongest side. You could make an argument for either Nogaito or Fuji at left back, but it is clear that Ramos slightly prefers the ex-Kitakyushu man.
The game started off at a frenetic pace, and Masanori Abe was unlucky not to open the scoring. A Gilsinho pass found the full-back in acres of space but Abe’s shot from the edge of the area cannoned back off the crossbar. Minutes later, the visiting side hit the bar – Kazuki Hara’s free kick being tipped on to the bar by Satoshi Tokizawa. Kitakyushu again hit the cross bar minutes later, Komatsu’s header beating Tokizawa but not beating the bar.
Gifu took the lead in the 17th minute, and it came after great work from Gifu’s captain. Takachi got the ball on the right touchline just inside the Giravanz half and embarked on a mazy dribble that culminated in a pass to Leo Mineiro, and the popular Brazilian cut inside before curling the ball into the bottom corner to put Gifu 1-0 up.
The rest of the half was an even affair, but Gifu held their lead and went in a the break 1-0 up. The score being the same score that had won them their previous two league outings, so confidence was high among the fans that it would be enough to seal another precious win.
The visitors were in no mood to back down though, and Gifu struggled to clear their lines as Kazuya Maeda seemed to dominate absolutely everything in the air. He should have equalized as well, but his header from a corner went agonizingly wide. Gifu weren’t without their chances, and Leo Mineiro almost got his second of the game, but his shot rolled just the wrong side of the post. Tsubasa Aoki & Junki Endo came on for Gifu to give the side a fresh energy boost and, despite a few scares, the team secured their third 1-0 victory in a row.
Gifu are now in 20th position – something that looked unthinkable after the second 5-0 drubbing by Omiya back in July. The triangle of Tokizawa, Okane & Watanabe have a lot to do with it – the last goal they conceded as a unit was Keiji Tamada’s penalty against Cerezo Osaka back on August 15th. The re-emergence of Leo Mineiro, arguably Gifu’s most important player has also paid dividends for Ruy Ramos.
Next up is bottom side Oita Trinita, and if Gifu can win it will put them 9 points clear of bottom place and looking up rather than down. Gifu will never have a better chance to win four league games in a row, so here’s hoping for another repeat performance from both players and supporters alike.
We Are Gifu!