This is 9.98 Stadium.
Fukui United FC is an amateur soccer team in Fukui Prefecture. The team was created last year and has been trying to get into the professional leagues (collectively called the J. League). There are no professional soccer teams in Fukui.
Last year the team became the 2019 champion of the Hokushinetsu Football League, but they lost in the Japan Regional Football Champion League and couldn’t get into the JFL, which is the top amateur soccer league.
This year the 39-year-old Ganaha Kazuki has joined Fukui United FC. He used to play on the Japanese national team, and he’s famous in Japan. I’m very happy that a famous player like him joined the team.
Because of the coronavirus, the first half of the league’s season was canceled. Today they finally had a game, and because of the earlier cancelations it was their opening home one. The venue was 9.98 Stadium.
I went to it, and as I went into the stadium I saw that more fans were wearing Fukui United FC uniforms than last year. Even lots of children, women, and elderly people had come. In total there were 1,220 people there.
People weren’t allowed to cheer out loud in the stadium because of the coronavirus, so everyone rooted for them by clapping. I’d come to watch Ganaha, but I didn’t see his name among the starting players and was disappointed.
Fukui United FC vs. ’05 Kamo FC kicked off at 4:00 p.m.
Both teams played very hard, but during the first 20 minutes neither was able to make any decisive plays.
At 20 minutes a Kamo player broke through the left side using a wall pass. A Fukui player committed a foul against him in a penalty area, and Kamo got a penalty kick. I prayed that Kamo wouldn’t get a goal, but Sato scored one easily.
However, at 33 minutes Kimura (No. 13, Fukui) came up the left side and passed to Yamada (No. 10). Yamada kicked the ball with his right foot and scored a goal! The score was 1－1.
Three minutes later Fukui got a penalty kick. Yamada kicked the ball toward the right side of the goal and scored! Fukui had turned the game around.
At the end of the first half Hatanaka (No. 7, Fukui) scored another goal, kicking the ball with his left foot. The first half ended 3－1.
Soon after that the second half kicked off.
Both teams tried to dominate the game.
At 19 minutes Ganaha (No. 9, Fukui) entered the game. When he came onto the field, all the fans (including me) started clapping very hard. A lot of fans had been waiting for him to appear.
As soon as he started playing, he got an opening. In front of the opponent’s goal he kicked the ball while sliding, but Kamo blocked it.
A long-awaited moment came.
At 29 minutes Ganaha received the ball in front of the goal and kicked it powerfully with his right foot, and the ball went through the goal! This was his first goal as a Fukui United FC player.
At 43 minutes Fukuda scored a goal for Fukui, and at 45 minutes Ishizuka scored another.
Finally the game ended, and Fukui won 6－1. I was happy that I’d been able to see so many goals.
I closely watched Ganaha’s playing today. He moved very well, and the opponents couldn’t get the ball from him. When he started playing, a lot of fans got excited. I realized that he’s a star player.
It’s going to be very difficult for Fukui to get into the J. League, but as long as there are passionate fans like those today, there’s a good chance that they will. They’ve been making a dramatic effort at this, so I hope everyone roots for them!