Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

R28 Otomo Returns

Vegalta Sendai 1 - 1 FC Gifu (ht 0-1)

FC Gifu scored their fastest goal in the J2 after just five minutes but couldn't hold on, eventually being pegged back by a stubborn Sendai to return home with just a solitary point for their efforts.

It was a great goal by FW Atsushi Katagiri after a nice break by MF Takashi Umeda up the right of the field, who passed to Katagiri, who in turn passed to FW Hiromi Kojima who then slotted a nice pass past four defenders and onto the boot of a flying Katagiri.
From then though it was Sendai who attacked wave after wave until eventually in the 63rd minute when Sendai FW Tomoyuki Hirase scored the goal for an exciting finish.
FC Gifu brought in FW Otomo for a bit more movement in the forwards and immediately he made an impact as Gifu finally awoke from their slumber to produce some good chances but alas it was to no avail and the game ended in a draw.

A reasonably good performance by Gifu, away, in a cool Sendai. Another draw to add to the tally, but the players won't be happy that they let three points escape their grasp. This fridays game against Mito will be a big game for the club. Although Mito lost to Fukuoka last night, they did come from two goals down to tie the game up before losing. Their form of late has also been pretty impressive. This will be a stern test for Gifu, as well as Mito, and it will be a good gauge to see how both teams have developed this year. Looking forward to it!

Next game August 1st (home) vs Mito Hollyhock

Monday, July 21, 2008

R27 Stalemate

FC Gifu 0 - 0 Shonan Bellmare (ht 0-0)

Another nil-all halftime, another nil-all draw. Half-time nil-all scores seem to be becoming a bit of a regular occurance lately, these games are ultimately decided in the second half.

Gifu and Shonan both battled hard, both created chances but both went home probably feeling not too happy about the result. For Shonan the loss of Aziel was huge as he definitely adds alot of spark to their attack. In saying that Shonan probably attacked better, particularly in the first half, whereas Gifu made sure that their defense wasn't opened up again like last week against Hiroshima. Nil-all, the game could have gone either way but in the end a draw was a fair result.

This result though saw Gifu drop down another place on the table, and now face a daunting trip up to Sendai next week for their first visit to one of the best footy stadiums in Japan, Yurtec Stadium.

Next game July 26th (away) vs Vegalta Sendai

Monday, July 14, 2008

R26 After The High, Comes The Low

Sanfreece Hiroshima 4 - 0 FC Gifu (ht 2-0)
Hiroshima showed everyone on saturday night why they are the form team of the J2 and why they will almost certainly be seeing themselves back in the J1 in 2009. Sure the team has been a little out of form of late, but following a wednesday game away (Gifu had a bye), and with injury to key players, the team showed that they are an obvious class above the rest of the J2. Of course they haven't won all games and have been pushed hard by teams in the lower end of the table, but in football a top team rarely goes through a season unbeaten now do they?
FC Gifu, did not play too bad, but Hiroshima proved that the main difference was the difference in class between the forwards, with Sanfreece having the ability to strike when other forwards would usually miss.
Gifu actually held on well for the first 42 minutes, but just when it seemed that Gifu would go into the half at 0-0 Sanfreece struck through MF Kohei Morita in the 42nd and then MF Yosuke Kashiwagi in the 44th. If Gifu was to have a chance to win the game they needed to do it right after the break but it was instead Hiroshima who added more to the tally with a goal in the 48th minute to FW Hisato Sato and then to rub salt into the wounds a PK to Koji Morisaki in the 62nd.
So for Gifu, this game finally introduced the harsh reality that they are a club recently promoted from the JFL. Surely they were thrashed by Cereso Osaka 5-0 in Round 16, but that result was more to do with the referee than the ability of Osaka or Gifu. In contrast, in this game Hiroshima showed Gifu what kind of play needs to be produced if the teams wants to be eventually promoted to the J1. This was a powerful showing by Hiroshima, and it would have surely awoken many of the Gifu players and supporters into the reality of their situation this year.
Anyway, it will be very interesting to see how they react when they play Shonan at home this weekend. A win will no doubt add some confidence back to the team, but a loss followed by a tough away trip to Sendai could see them slip right back down in the table.
Next game July 19th (home) vs Shonan Bellmare

Monday, July 7, 2008

R24 Finally... Katagiri Comes To The Party

FC Gifu 2 - 1 Montedio Yamagata (ht 0-0)

Well, it only took 10 home games, but Gifu finally got another home win under their belts when they defeated second placed Yamagata in a thriller at Nagara last night.
The home team played pretty well tonight. In the first half they played with a great amount of possession but were unable to connect for the killer blow. Yamagata on the other hand, whilst being starved off the ball had a few good chances particularly during the end of the first half. The half ended though with a hint of a momentum change in favour of Yamagata.
So both teams again came out fighting in the second half but it was Gifu who struck first in the 75th minute when FW Atsushi Katagiri headed in a pearler after some great tenocity from FW Takagi Kazumasa. But just when the 3000 odd Gifu fans were beginning to think of that long awaited second home victory Yamagata struck back almost immediately in the 78th minute when MF Masaru Akiba back-headed the ball into the goal following a free kick almost on halfway.
Both teams traded blows but in the 87th Gifu were awarded a free kick about a metre in front of the box slighty to the left. Katagiri stepped up and beautifully knocked the ball over the wall and into the back of the net while the keeper stood watching. This turned out to be the killer blow.

This was a very good game for Gifu, not just because they won, but because they played positively and scored their first goal from a free kick. The crowd, myself included, finally got to go home to a good night of sleep with smiles on their faces.

Round 25 is a bye for Gifu.
Next game July 12th (away) vs Sanfreece Hiroshima.