Giravanz Kitakyushu and Zweigen Kanazawa have both gone from potential J1 promotion clubs to potential J3 relegation. In the space of a year both teams who stood at the precipice of something extraordinary in 2015 now face life in Japanese football’s doldrums.
Kitakyushu are a particularly sad story as the club has just constructed a great new 15000 seat football specific stadium by the sea. Speaking with fan @Giravanzwombat – an Australian in Kyushu – the team has had tough time with injury this year, forcing manager Hashiratani to play around with the starting eleven regularly.
“Club legend Ikemoto came back this year after a season in J1 with Matsumoto Yamaga but was disappointing,” he said. The avid Giravanz fan believes Giravanz will survive relegation via the J2 v J3 play-off. On Giravanz’s side is the fact they’re playing Montedio Yamagata, a team that has secured only two more wins then them.
Meanwhile, last placed Kanazawa will need to pull off a miracle against 1st placed Consadole Sapporo. Sapporo won’t be doing the Hokuriku club any favours though as the race at the top of J2 is tightly contested.
Just like Giravanz, Kanazawa had a massive fall from grace in 2016. Last season after leading J2 as deep into the season as the halfway mark, Kanazawa’s form fell away, and the little club finished six points off the play-off places. In the off season Kanazawa lost midfielder Shohei Kiyohara to Cerezo Osaka. His thirteen goals from 2015 have been sorely missed in 2016. The club did recruit son of the ‘Romario’ but Romarinho has only taken the field on four occasions.
Kanazawa will need to take a least a point and hope Giravanz manage nothing tomorrow. Or if both clubs pull off miracle wins they will leap-frog FC Gifu who are two points ahead of them, that’s of course if Gifu can’t do better than draw against 18th placed Tokyo Verdy.
Action kicks off at 4pm Japan time.