【English Report】FC Gifu vs Albirex Niigata by Stuart Smith

Despite a valiant second half fightback, FC Gifu succumbed to a 1-3 defeat at home against Albirex Niigata last weekend, by Stuart Smith.

FC Gifu starting XI: Victor, Abe, Kai, Kitatani, Yanagisawa, Nakashima, Ono, Nagashima, Aihara, Yamagishi, De Vries.


Coach Takeshi Oki made one change in his quest for a first league win since May 5th, with defender Fumitaka Kitatani coming in for his first appearance since sustaining an injury in the game at Tokushima Vortis back in March.


The first half ended with Niigata in the lead courtesy of a Caue flick in from a free-kick, and when the Brazilian doubled Albirex’s lead just after half time it looked like a very difficult assignment for Gifu to get back into the game. The introductions of Koya Kazama, Ryoichi Maeda and a debut for Korean midfielder Ham Yeong-jun gave the home side a boost and Gifu pulled a goal back when Yuya Yamagishi scored from the penalty spot after a Niigata defender was penalized for handball.


Gifu had a chance to level things up when they awarded another penalty after Ryoichi Maeda was fouled in the penalty area. Maeda himself took the ball, but he put the ball wide – much to the anguish of the home supporters. Almost immediately from that, Niigata put the game to bed when they scored their third goal and 3-1 was the way the game finished.


Post-match, FC Gifu coach Takeshi Oki said: “Their first goal came from a set piece, and the second from a counter attack right at the beginning of the second half – I feel both those of goals could have been prevented. In the second half, we got the ball a bit more but still struggled to get in to scoring positions, and there was always the threat of being caught on the counter attack. Of course we had the chance to equalize, but just couldn’t take it. We have to accept the result of this game and move on.”


Captain Masanori Abe told reporters: “In the first half we couldn’t keep hold of the ball, meaning we couldn’t force the issue on our terms. Conceding from a set play, and then conceding a second right at the start of the second half is very difficult for a team to recover from. If we can’t make our time on the ball, then it is inevitable that we have to defend for longer periods. It makes it that much more challenging to defend for longer stretches of time.”


Ryoichi Maeda said: “We are in a difficult position right now, but we all need to do our bit. It was a difficult game today, but we did have a chance to get something from it – I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t take the chance that came my way.”

FC Gifu will look to arrest their run of defeats when we head to NACK5 Stadium on Saturday evening.