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Gamba Osaka News November 4th 2019

#1 Gamba record 3-0 win away to Shonan Bellmare
I predicted a hard-fought 2-2 draw between these sides, however, it proved to be anything but as Kosuke Onose’s early volley and powerful shots either side of half time by Takashi Usami secured an easy 3-0 victory. The win was Gamba’s first on the road in over 4 months and now sees their overall away record this season improve to 4 wins, 5 draws and 6 defeats, the 12th best record in the league. Two away games remain this year, against Oita this Sunday and Urawa on the final day of the season December 7th.

#2 Usami finds his goalscoring touch once again
Takashi Usami talked in the buildup to the Shonan match about how important finding the back of the net was for someone in his position and he certainly backed up that talk on Sunday. As reported on Japanese twitter this was the first time since the 2-1 win away to Kashima Antlers on 12 September 2015 that Usami has scored twice in once game for Gamba (of course he wasn’t a Gamba player for a large chunk of the time inbetween). He now has 4 goals in 10 J1 games since returning to the club in July, and is only 3 shy of joint-top scorers Ademilson and Shu Kurata who both have 7. With home games against Sendai and Matsumoto still to come he may fancy himself to match or better their season’s total.

#3 Relegation still a mathematical possibility but looking increasingly unlikely
As mentioned in the Shonan match preview, Gamba’s win moves them 7 points clear of Bellmare with just 4 matches left. Gamba are now in 9th spot in the standings, ahead of Vissel Kobe on goal difference. Bottom club Jubilo Iwata defeated local rivals Shimizu S-Pulse at the weekend but can’t finish ahead of Gamba even if they win all their remaining games as they are 13 points behind with just 4 remaining fixtures. Matsumoto Yamaga are 8 points behind Gamba, however should we win the home match against them on November 30th then they wouldn’t be able to overtake us regardless of the results in the other games.

# 4 Onose set for international honours?
The EAFF Cup which will be held in Korea this year between 10-18 December may not be to everyone’s taste (cough cough Marcello Lippi cough cough), but it does provide an excellent chance for JLeague players to gain international experience while foreign based stars such as Minamino, Osako and Nakajima are ineligible. Right-winger Kosuke Onose must be in with a great chance for a first international call-up. Despite his club’s mediocre results this season, he has been a shining light with 6 goals and 4 assists from 26 J1 games….should Gamba’s decent run of form continue until the end of the season, whisper it gently, but could there be international recalls for Ideguchi and Usami?

#5 Shuhei Kawasaki to be promoted to the top team for 2020
As I write this (4 November 19:08 JST) Gamba haven’t yet officially confirmed the club’s worst kept secret that U23 assist king Shuhei Kawasaki will be promoted to the senior squad for 2020. Yahoo News are reporting it as fact and I expect it to be confirmed by the club within hours/days. I was at the U23 side’s 3-2 win over SC Sagamihara today where he netted a goal and an assist (he was interviewed right after the game, but my Japanese isn’t good enough to hear if they congratulated him only on his first senior or also on his contract) and he played mostly up front alongside Haruto Shirai before dropping deeper into more of a second-striker role in the second half. He has previously played mostly on the left-wing and that appears to be his favoured position. Kawasaki has 1 goal and 8 assists from 20 J3 appearances this year.

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