As an introduction to the 2017 season, I will introduce the squad as a whole – starting with those who stand in between the goalposts.

Yoshinari Takagi

  • Age: 37
  • Previous clubs: Tokyo Verdy, Nagoya Grampus
  • Last year: 31 games / 0 goals

Takagi has proven a very popular addition to the team with players & supporters alike. His fun outside demeanour, he likes anime & his Twitter game is strong, tends to mask someone who is very dedicated to his craft.

He missed the first two games of the 2016 season as William Popp (now of Kawasaki Frontale) was preferred, but after two 0-4 defeats, Takagi came in for the third game and kept a clean sheet as Gifu picked up a 1-0 win against Kitakyushu.

He’s a good organizer – and last year with Ryutaro Karube (now retired) and Masaya Tashiro in front of him that was important. He suffered an injury towards the end of the season, meaning he missed out on Gifu’s relegation run-in – a run in in which Satoshi Tokizawa performed excellently – and so it I’m unsure if he will start as Gifu’s first choice keeper.

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Satoshi Tokizawa

  • Age: 32
  • Previous clubs: Tokyo Verdy, Gunma, FC Tokyo, Montedio Yamagata
  • Last season: 7 games / 0 goals

Whenever called upon, Tokizawa has been excellent for Gifu. He came into the side last year at hugely difficult time – with Gifu staring relegation in the face – but helped the team to three wins from the final four games to ensure survival.

He’s very understated. He’s quiet and rarely takes any plaudits. But it is rare to see him make any mistakes – as I’m typing this I’m trying to think of any I can remember. He’s not flashy but exudes a calm air of authority at the back. Nicknamed “Spiderman” for his huge hands, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him be first choice ‘keeper next year.

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Victor Ibanez

  • Age: 27
  • Previous clubs: Eibar, Cartegena, Almeria B, Real Zaragoza B, CE L’Hospitalet (all Spain)
  • Last season:

It is quite rare to see non-Asian goalkeepers in the J.League, there have been a few but not many. This makes Victor’s signing very interesting. Coming from the Segunda Division B in Spain, I really don’t have any idea what he is like as a goalkeeper. Let’s be honest, Spain has a pretty good track record of producing goalkeepers recently, so hopefully Victor (as he will be known in Japan) can continue that nice tradition. Clubs in the J.League don’t usually sign foreigners to sit on the bench, pre-season will show us what coach Takeshi Oki has in store for him.

 

 

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