The final part of the FC Gifu squad run down will be quite short because:
- There (at the moment) are only four out and out forwards in the squad
- I only really know about two of them
So let’s begin….
- Age: 34
- Previous clubs:
- Last season: 20 games / 3 goals
Three goals in twenty appearances doesn’t usually mark out someone that is important for the club, but Hiroaki Namba is exception to the rule.
Last year was not the greatest for “NMB24” – injuries and Gifu’s one up front system left him out quite often, and ineffective at times when he did play. He saved his best for last though, scoring twice in the final day 4-2 victory against Tokyo Verdy which secured Gifu’s J2 survival. The two goals that day showed the strengths of Namba at this point in his career – knowing where to be. He still puts all his effort in, but at this point he can’t be considered a player who can chase & pressure defenders for any sustained period. To be effective, I believe that Namba has to play up front (not off to the sides) or to be an impact substitute. He still has good close range movement, and is able to make space for himself in tight corners, but I think he is more valuable as a leader in the dressing room now. There are a lot of young faces in the squad now, and having experience like Namba & Yoshinari Takagi will be valuable for the squad throughout the season.
- Age: 22
- Previous clubs: FC Gifu
- Last season: 26 games / 4 goals
I think quite a few people are expecting Ryo Takiya to take a big step in his pro career this year, after last year’s relatively quiet opening season.
Like Namba, Takiya had to settle for a bit part role due to the formation Gifu employed, and due Leo Mineiro’s outstanding form. Takiya looks like a physical specimen. He’s 187cm tall, and he isn’t thin – he’s built. This year, he needs to use that bulk & muscle a bit more – he shouldn’t be pushed off the ball by defenders, and he should be able to fight for high balls, set pieces etc. He’s not the quickest forward you will see, so he needs to make use of his other physical traits.
When he did play last year, he really played well when he was asked to occupy defenders, or when he was used as an old fashioned target man. While he isn’t quick, he has a lot of energy, and won’t give up chasing – no-one will ever accuse him of lack of effort.
I think a reasonable target this year will be 10 league goals – if he gets to that milestone, he will have had a very good year. He’s a player that has the tools to be good, 2017 will be the year he needs to prove it.
- Age: 21 (22 in January)
- Previous clubs: Chuo University
- Last season: –
An unknown quantity for me, although reports say that he did play well in the Tokyo university league in 2016. He says he likes to take people on and to try and beat them with pace. We had Leo Mineiro last year doing that – if Furuhashi can become anything near that I would be delighted. With the scarcity of forward resources, he does have a chance at playing time pretty soon.
- Age: 21 (22 on January 21st)
- Previous clubs: Osaka Sangyo University
- Last season: –
Another unknown for this observer, but Yabuuchi is interesting having spent time in Gamba Osaka’s vaunted youth system before heading to university. He describes himself as a technical player, one who is just as comfortable making chances as he is taking chances. Here’s hoping that is true.