Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Year Review

2009, a year of hope, but not expectation. Gifu showed promise on the field, while faultering off it.

J2 2009 Table (FC Gifu Result):

106 Vegalta Sendai (0-2) (0-2) (1-2)
104 Cereso Osaka (0-1) (2-1) (1-2)
98 Shonan Bellmare (2-2) (2-2) (1-1)
97 Ventforet Kofu (0-1) (2-2) (1-2)
88 Sagan Tosu (0-1) (1-1) (0-1)
79 Consadole Sapporo (0-3) (0-2) (2-4)
74 Tokyo Verdy (0-0) (0-3) (1-1)
73 Mito Hollyhock (3-3) (1-1) (3-1)
72 Tokushima Vortis (1-3) (3-0) (2-1)
65 Thespa Kusatsu (1-0) (1-0) (0-1)
65 Avispa Fukuoka (0-2) (1-0) (0-1)
62 FC Gifu
59 Kataller Toyama (0-3) (0-0) (2-0)
58 Roasso Kumamoto (1-0) (2-5) (5-2)
47 Ehime FC (0-3) (2-1) (3-3)
44 Yokohama FC (1-1) (2-0) (3-2)
37 Tochigi SC (1-0) (1-1) (1-2)
36 Fagiano Okayama (4-0) (0-0) (2-0)

So Gifu improved on last year, finishing 12th out of 18 teams and just one win away from a top ten finish. Not a bad result really. Last year they finished 13th out of 15 teams.

As with last year Gifu showed the ability to beat most of the teams around the mid table or below but still struggled with the higher positioned teams. Towards the end of the season Gifu came close to securing wins over the likes of Shonan, Kofu, Tokyo etc, only to be beaten in the dying minutes. Still, it's a pretty good indication of how they played this year, reasonably solid, but still lacking ideas and the killer punch against bigger, more experienced oponents.

They ended the year with winning records over Tokushima, Kusatsu, Kumamoto, Yokohama and Okayama.

Shonan, Mito, Toyama and Tochigi all proved to be good rivals.

Teams yet to defeat FC Gifu:
Fagiano Okayama

Teams FC Gifu has yet to defeat (2010 - J2):
Consadole Sapporo, Tokyo Verdy, Ventforet Kofu, Gilabantz KitaKyuushuu

The Emperor's Cup

vs Tochigi 1-0
vs Matsumoto Yamaga FC 3-1
vs JEF CHiba 1-0
vs Nagoya Grampus 0-3

It was a great effort for a young team like Gifu to progress to the Best 8 of the Emperor's Cup for the first time. A gutsy win over J2 rivals Tochigi SC was followed by a spanking of Urawa giant killing Matsumoto in Akita. What was followed was maybe the most impressive though, a 1-0 victory over Chiba in Saitama and hence Gifu's first ever victory over a J1 team.

Unfortunately though it ended there, as a powerful Grampus side destroyed Gifu with the help of that man Kennedy, thus leaving Gifu without a goal against Nagoya yet, and without the much needed prize money that would have come with winning that game.


Results overall: Won 16 Drew 14 Lost 21

Results Home: Won 10 Drew 8 Lost 6

Results Away: Won 6 Drew 6 Lost 14

If Gifu did one thing right this year, it's that they started to win at home. Last year they only managed 3 wins at home and 6 draws. This year though they won 10 at home and drew 8. This included an 11 game unbeaten streak during the middle of the season and for the first time in their history a four game winning streak.

The time when Gifu struck most was in summer, when the other teams withered in the summer heat. Gifu with it's young players found another gear and usually scored the all-important goals in the last quarter of the game when the opposition ran out of breath.


Goals for 62 (12th) - average per game 1.22

Goals against 72 (12th) - average per game 1.41

Last year Gifu averaged only 0.98 per game on attack and 1.64 per game goals against. So when comparing those two results we can see that Gifu has improved in both facets of the game.
While last year they played mostly defensively, this year, while keeping to a basic defensive format, they attacked more particularly in counter and using quick on the ground passes rather than the aerial balls of last year.
Last year when the team lost games they usually didn't score a goal either but this year they scored in most games.
Defensive lapses were frequent early on in the season and during the dying stages of the game. Whereas the majority of goals scored were in the second half.

Top Goal Scorers 2009:

16 Koichi Satou (2)
11 Yudai Nishikawa (1)
7 Kazumasa Takagi (1)
5 Shougo Shimada
4 Kazuki Someya
4 Kazunori Kan
3 Shinji Tominari
2 Park Joon Kyung
2 Atsushi Katagiri
2 Kazunori Yoshimoto (2)
2 Hideyoshi Akita
1 Yuki Oshitani
1 Shuuto Tanaka
1 Suguru Hashimoto

( ) = Emperor's Cup

And Satou Koichi is the king of Gifu for 2009 with 16 goals in the J2, and two in the Emperor's Cup. He was ranked 9th in the J2 for goals this year. Nishikawa also put in a very solid debut effort of 11, but could have doubled that if he'd been a bit better.

Koichi particularly will be invaluable for Gifu next year. What he needs is a good solid partner, even more of a goal getter than himself. Nishikawa was often found wanting, as was Otomo and Jeun Kuan.

Player of the year:

This year the award goes to Suguru Hashimoto. Results speak for themselves, and in the first third of the competition when he was out due to injury the team hardly won. After his injection though, his attacking defense and great counter ability gave Gifu a potent attacking force. I would go as far as to say that if he is not there in 2010, Gifu will finish near bottom.

Following hot on the footsteps of Hashimoto was Hideyoshi Akita who at over 35, came up from the JFL and proved invaluable at organising the defense at the back as well as linking to the midfield.

Other notable mentions for 2009 were rookie defender Shuuto Tanaka, Kazuki Someya, and on-loan Oshitani and Yoshimoto.

Best games:

There were a number and games against Shonan, Kofu and Mito were always dramatic but my picks for 2009 are:

FC Gifu 1 - 0 Tochigi SC. All important first win of the season. Probably kept Gifu off the bottom of the table.
FC Gifu 2 - 1 Cereso Osaka. First win against Cereso. Four game winning streak. Good crowd. Gifu were on fire!
FC Gifu 1 - o JEF Chiba. All-important first ever J1 scalp.

Best Goal:

Koichi Satou's bicycle against Cereso Osaka was the icing on the cake for a great night. Forget Miyamoto's bicycle for Kobe (he juggled the ball first before kicking), this was a great volley bicycle kick direct of the pass. Great to see.


107593 (avg. 4304) (J2 - 13th)

1: 24882 (avg 3110)
2: 47177 (avg 4718)
3: 35534 (avg 5076)

Gifu started off the season with poor attendance. I remember standing in the rain against Sagan Tosu in Round 10 when only 1400 spectators bothered to turn up, and I feared for the worse for the rest of the season. As the team grew though, so did the fans. It created a great atmosphere for everyone and no doubt helped the team post some impressive results at home. During summer especially, Nagaragawa was "the place to be".
Unfortunately though next year will see Gifu move to Gifu Meadow which only has a capacity of 3600, and also Ichinomiya (in Aichi) for bigger games, but that too only has a capacity of about 7000. While great for watching soccer, this will no doubt be disadvantageous for the club financially.


A pretty pleasing results from the boys in snot green considering everything. 12th and a win away from a top ten finish is nothing to be ashamed off. Neither is a best 8 finish in the Emperor's Cup.
The young team gained alot of valuable experience and if the core team remains for next year then a top 10 finish is a good possibility.

So 2010, one new team, a new (old) stadium, new rookies, and the same old financial problems....
Ahhh.... I'm looking forward to it already!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Emperor's Cup Quarter Final

Nagoya Grampus 3 - 0 FC Gifu (ht 1-0)

Unfortunately for Gifu they couldn't reap the financial rewards by toppling rivals Nagoya Grampus over the weekend, but the loss brought to the end a proud season by the boys in mouldy green.
About 2000 Gifu supporters came to watch the game on a cold Nagoya afternoon, but they were soon humbled when Nagoya utterly dominated the opening 20 minutes of the game. Gifu gradually began to find their feet and the game evened up over the following 20 minutes with both teams having their chances. Gifu came close but it was Grampus who struck first when Kennedy headed into the goal just a minute before half time.
That goal was crucial for the outcome of the game. The general feeling around was that if Gifu could sneak in the first goal, then they could probably hold out for a tight victory. If it was Nagoya who struck first though, the floodgates would probably open.
And sure enough they did, with Kennedy knocking in another two to take a hat-trick out of the game.
Gifu had a few chances, and one disallowed goal, but this one was Nagoya's. They deserved this victory. There passing interplay, ball retention, and defense was superior.
So Gifu have to wait til next years Kisogawa Derby for their chance for revenge, and if nothing else, a goal would be nice!

Gifu can hold their heads high though. A Best 8 finish in the Emperor's Cup, with victorys over Tochigi SC, Matsumoto Yamaga FC and JEF Chiba, is a proud accomplishment for the club, especially considering the experience of the players and the financial problems of the club.

End of season review to come in 2010!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

R51 vs Tokushima Vortis

FC Gifu 2 - 1 Tokushima Vortis (ht 0-1)

Gifu ended their J2 season on a high coming from behind to beat Tokushima 2-1 at a soggy Nagaragawa today. Tokushima have improved dramatically this year from being at the bottom of the table at the conclusion of 2008, to being 9th going into this game. In this game they had the best of the first half and were rewarded when they pounced on a Noda fumble to take a 1-0 lead into the half. It looked like Gifu were heading for another defeat but at half time something must of happens. Whether it was for the departing players, the departing manager, the 5000 fans that turned up in the round or just for themselves, the players came out in the second half and started to play with a bit of desire. Early in the second half Gifu equalised with Satou's 16th goal of the season. Then with about 15 minutes left Gifu took the lead when Akita pounced on a loose ball and knocked the ball past the keeper. Gifu then held on to keep themselves in 12th place at the end of the season.
Although it was the last regular league game of the season, Gifu can't afford to relax and reflect on the season just yet as they have a HUGE match against Nagoya at Mizuho next sunday. A win in this game, and the financial rewards, could be the key to keeping the club alive after next year as the club is still in financial debt that it doesn't really look like getting out of.
Sunday 13th vs Nagoya Grampus... be there!!!

2009 Table - Final

106 Vegalta Sendai
104 Cereso Osaka
98 Shonan Bellmare
97 Ventforet Kofu
88 Sagan Tosu
79 Consadole Sapporo
74 Tokyo Verdy
73 Mito Hollyhock
72 Tokushima Vortis
65 Thespa Kusatsu
65 Avispa Fukuoka
62 FC Gifu
59 Kataller Toyama
58 Roasso Kumamoto
47 Ehime FC
44 Yokohama FC
37 Tochigi SC
36 Fagiano Okayama