Unfortunately (or fortunately!) I will not be able to watch FC Gifu play away to Cerezo Osaka in Round 5 of the J2 as I will be away in Egypt and UAE. Promises to be a good game though. Will Gifu be able to continue their good form of late?? Or will Osaka arise and show their desire to get back into the J1 this year??
I will be watching the result with sandy eyes....
Monday, March 24, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
FC Gifu 2 - 1 Tokushima Vortis (ht 1-0)
A moment of magic from Forward Katayama gave FC Gifu their first ever home victory against Tokushima Vortis today. A small crowd of just over 2000 people witnessed the event on a cool cloudy night. FC Gifu started off the match well and took a 1-0 lead to the break after ex-Oita Midfeilder Takashi Umeda knocked in a goal after 34 minutes. In the second half after a succession of corner kicks, Tokushima struck back after Forward Doumbia kicked in a goal to give Vortis their first goal of 2008. Tokushima were looking like they could produce a come from behind win but one minute later, in the 76th minute, in a moment that defined the match, Gifu Striker Katayama vollyed in a cross pass from Atsushi past the keeper to put Gifu right back in front. After all their trying, this moment ultimately knocked the stuffing out of Tokushima, and Gifu were able to hold onto a famous victory.
Both teams provided plenty on attack, Tokushima looked especially invigorated after their embarrassing loss to Ehime FC last week. Both teams provided nine shots at goal each, but while Gifu had only three corner kicks, Tokushima had an amazing 12!
Two wins a row for Gifu, a first home win, and third on the table after round 4. Not a bad night out for the boys! But in the next two weeks they will have their first big tests of the year when they take on the might of Osaka and Hiroshima.
Get out there and support your troops!
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Montedio Yamagata 3 - 5 FC Gifu (ht 2-3)
Who would have guessed it? FC Gifu piled on five goals to record their first ever win in the J2 in Yamagata today! Takagi and Katayama added to goals each with Kan adding the cherry on the cake in the 38th minute to seal the win. In the first half it was Takagi who got the goal rush started, with a lucky deflection of Yamagata legs in the 11th minute. But Yamagata hit straight back in the 15th minute through Toyota and the 18th minute through Watanabe. In the 26th minute Katayama headed in a goal and then just before full time in the 44th minute struck in a goal for a vital 3-2 lead at half time. Gifu then came out of the sheds fastest in the second half as Takagi knocked in his second of the day. Kan popped in a final goal for Gifu in the 38th minute to seal the game. Yamagata then popped in a consolation goal in the 44th minute as Leonardo headed in from a corner kick.
The amazing thing for Gifu is that they scored their five goals of just 11 scoring chances. Yamagata on the other hand did pretty well themselves by scoring their three goals of just eight shots at goal.
Congratulations to the boys from middle earth, Japan!
Next game vs Tokushima Vortis at home this sunday.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
FC Gifu 0 - 1 Vegalta Sendai (ht 0-1)
On a beautiful summers day in Gifu (a disappointing) 5000 odd people turned out to watch Gifu battle J2 big-guns Sendai in an entertaining match. Both teams played positive soccer, with Vegalta looking the more settled team as perhaps nerves once again led to a slow for Gifu. The solitary point of the match came after 23 minutes when Vegalta's Ryan Yon Gi on the counter attack took a shot from ten metres out, only for it to be headed into the goal by Gifu's Masamichi Yamada whilst trying to clear the ball.
On the whole, the defence from both teams was impressive, as the end result showed. Vegalta had 14 shots at goal but amazingly no corner kicks, whereas FC Gifu had only a mere five shots at goal and one paltry corner kick. So in a way, it was very similar to last weeks game with Kofu, although this time the standard of play was alot better in general than last week. There were chances to draw the game, one shot by Katayama hit the posts, and Moriyama also came close to putting in a last minute goal. In the end the score was probably a fair reflection of the game, but Gifu were unlucky to concede the own goal, and it's debatable as to whether Vegalta would have been able to win if they hadn't been gifted that goal.
Looking onto this thursdays game away to Yamagata, I think that after Yamagata's dismantling of Cerezo Osaka on saturday, and after the long journey up north, Gifu will probably be hoping to come out of that game with pride in tact but not expecting too much. The fact of the matter is that they will be probably concentrating most of their efforts on the home game against Tokushima Vortis on sunday 23rd. But it will be very interesting to see what happens next. We are all waiting for them to follow Roasso's footsteps and get their first three points of 2008.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Ventforet Kofu 1 - 1 FC Gifu (ht 1-0)
Gifu fought back from a goal down to draw level 1-all with Kofu in Yamanashi today. The goal was scored by Hiromi Kojima who came on the field as a replacement after 55 minutes and made his presence felt immediately as he popped a goal past the keeper 5 minutes later to put Gifu back on level peggings and at the same time give them a sniff of victory with 20 minutes remaining. The final five minutes had fans from both sides on the edges of their seats as both teams set up scoring chances, but in the end the whistle was blown, and while Gifu were celebrating their first first point in the J2 league, Kofu were heads down as the boos started raining in from their disgruntled supporters.
In the first half Gifu were dominated up front, defence was sturdy but in the 38th minute Kofu striker Haji knocked in a goal from a corner kick to give Kofu a one point lead going into halftime. Gifu were not looking too out of place but their inability to set up scoring chances was in turn putting pressure on their defence. A 1-0 scoreline was a fair reflection of the half.
In the second half, as they did in the Grampus game, Gifu came out with more passion and confidence began to rise in the team. It wasn't till the injection of Kojima though that they started to look threatening. In the 61st minute FW Katagiri faked a goal kick and passed to Kojima who kicked the ball sweetly past the GK Abe for Gifu's first goal in the J-league. Local Gifu hero Moriyama was then subbed-in 10 minutes later and came tantalisingly close to stealing the match winner for Gifu. But the game ended 1-1 with Gifu looking the most likely of the teams to post a winner if only they had an extra five minutes to work with.
The game summary stats though were a different story. Shots at goal 11 - 3 to Kofu. Corner kickes 9 - 2 to Kofu. Kofu will be kicking themselves for lacking the finishing touches to put Gifu away. Gifu though, will be pleased with a draw in their first J2 outing, away and in front of 13000 passionate Yamanashi fans. They showed patience and made the most of their limited chances.
Hold your heads high Gifu! The journey though, starts from here...
Friday, March 7, 2008
So yes, it's finally time. The 2008 J.League starts tomorrow when we get to see fellow J2 debutants Roasso Kumamoto take on Ehime FC away. FC Gifu fans will be watching this with eager eyes, hoping that whatever Roasso manage on saturday, FC Gifu will better on sunday against Kofu. Because after all, apart from fellow neighbours Grampus, Roasso are the biggest rivals for FC Gifu as they are both the new kids on the (chopping) block. At the end of the season, if Gifu can manage only to stay above Roasso on the table, then there will be a sense of satisfaction among the green fans, for that in a sense is the minimum goal for the team this year in the supporters eyes.
As the survey on where you thought Gifu would finish in 2008 showed, over half of you guys thought that Gifu would fall into the lower table, between 9th and 14th place. A few people thought that Gifu would take the wooden spoon home with them come december, one person the top three, and one (drunk) voter thought that Gifu would go all the way to the top and J1 honors for 2009! In reality, Gifu will be happy to finish off the bottom of the table, and that may be the biggest challenge for them. The goal for Manager Matsunaga is for a 6th to 9th place finish. This of course is a very (over) optimistic goal perhaps for a team in its first year in the J2, but at the same time, the manager should be targeting a reasonable high goal shouldn't they!
But in the end, place us above Roasso at the end of 2008 and us greens will be at least managing a little grin to ourselves.