Football column

J3 Championship Predictions! FC Gifu, SC Sagamihara and Matsumoto Yamaga are the best?

J3 Championship Predictions! Are FC Gifu, SC Sagamihara, and Matsumoto Yamaga the best?

The J3 League starts on 12 March. This season there will be 18 teams playing in the league, three more than last season. With Matsumoto Yamaga FC, who used to play in J1, also in the J3 league, there is a lot of interest in the league, so before the season starts, we take a look at our predictions for the winning team in 2022.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the teams that will win in 2022.
We’ll be looking at the teams that will win in 2022.
(The contents are as of 15 February 2022)

J1 championship prediction is here

What are the teams you predict will win J3?

The following four teams are our predictions for the J3 championship.

  • FC Gifu
  • SC Sagamihara
  • Matsumoto Yamaga FC
  • Cataret Toyama

Let’s take a look at each of them.

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FC Gifu


The first team is FC Gifu. The first team is FC Gifu, who are seen by many fans as this year’s favourites.

Despite being a J3 team, they have made some big additions to their squad, including Ugajin, who left Urawa Reds, and Junya Tanaka, who left Vissel Kobe. These are players who could have been taken by a J1 team, even though their contracts have expired.

We have also added players who played in J3, such as Ndoka Charles from YS Yokohama, who scored 6 goals and assisted 1 in 22 games last season. This is a great example of the strength of the squad that we have brought in this winter, which makes us head and shoulders above the rest.

Of course, it is not always possible to win with a high level of players. However, with a squad of players that are among the foulest in J3, the expectations are very high for Gifu.


There is a concern about how well the veteran players will be able to compete in the J3 environment. The reason for this is that J3 is a very physical game. Many teams work hard and are expected to be physically tired. It’s a tough league for veterans. So it will be important for newcomers Tanaka and Ugajin to get used to the J3 environment, which will undoubtedly strengthen the team if they can play at a high level.

Shota Kawanishi, who was the top scorer in J3 last season, has left the club. This will be a concern if there is no one to fill the void.

Key players

FC Gifu’s key man is new manager Toshiya Miura, who has managed in J1 and J2, winning the J2 championship with Consadole Sapporo, and has not managed in the J.League since leaving Vanforre Kofu in 2011. He has not managed in the J.League since he left Vanforre Kofu in 2011, and until last season he was both team general manager and technical director of FC Gifu, so he knows the team inside out, which is a plus. The squad is strong enough, so it remains to be seen how the coach will manage it.

Newcomers Ndoka Charles and Kosuke Fujioka are also key players. As mentioned above, the top scorer of last season has moved to the club from FC Gifu. So it will be important that the newcomers can score enough goals to fill the void. Fujioka, in particular, is expected to do well as he finished second in the scoring ranking last season.



The second team is SC Sagamihara, who finished 19th in J2 last season and have been relegated to J3.

SC Sagamihara were relegated to J3 after finishing 19th in J2 last season, and we have chosen them because of the strength of their squad and the fact that they were still fighting for survival at the end of last season.

SC Sagamihara were relegated after just one year in their first J2 challenge last season. However, despite a change of manager due to poor results, the fight for survival went right down to the last game. If we had won the last game, we could have stayed up. Another reason for this is that last season we had a different regulation, with four teams being relegated. If two teams had been relegated as usual, SC Sagamihara would not have been relegated. This means that SC Sagamihara have the closest squad strength to J2 of all the teams relegated this season.

In addition, SC Sagamihara’s manager Takuya Takagi, who has been in charge since the middle of last season, has been appointed to continue. Takuya has been in charge of the team since the middle of last season, and this is the best reinforcement for the team. Takuya has previously worked for Yokohama FC and V.F. Farren Nagasaki, who were promoted from J2 to J1. He has been in charge of various teams in J2 over the years and has more than enough experience. His most recent good result was third place in J2 with Omiya Ardija in 2019.

Last season we were relegated to J3, but if we had played the way we did, we would not have been relegated. 6 wins, 9 draws, 11 losses and 27 points from 26 games, or 42 points from 42 games if we take 1 point from each game. This is the same number of points as the remaining teams.

We have a strong squad, who were last in J2 last season, and a good manager who has been promoted to J1. I expect SC Sagamihara to finish in the top half of the table, as they have both of these qualities.


The main concern with SC Sagamihara is the turnover of personnel. The reinforcements have been successful enough, but there have also been many departures in their place. One example is Yuri, who scored 4 goals and assisted 1 in 32 games last year. Foreign players are a great asset in J3. Yuri’s departure hurts us a little bit, because he played a lot in the middle last season.

The change of players also means that we are back to square one in terms of team building. The key to winning the championship and promotion will be how quickly we can build the team with the new players.

Key players

One of the key players is our new signing, Takayuki Funayama. Funayama made 38 appearances for JEF Chiba in J2 last season, scoring 8 goals and providing 2 assists, and although he is only 34 years old, it will be interesting to see how he fares in J3 after his recent success in J2.

Matsumoto Yamaga FC


The third team is Matsumoto Yamaga FC. Having been relegated from J2 last season, Matsumoto Yamaga will be playing in J3 for the first time this season, and with their experience in J1, they have the most name value out of all the J3 teams. The reason why we have chosen Matsumoto Yamaga is because of their financial strength and stability.

Matsumoto Yamaga has the most financial resources of all the J3 teams. For example, in 2020, they will have an operating revenue of 1.928 billion yen, which is the sixth highest in J2. In the same year, FC Gifu had the highest revenue in J3 with 853 million yen. This shows just how big a club Matsumoto Yamaga is.

The financial strength of the club means that it is easy to make major reinforcements. For example, when the season starts and the team is not at the top of the table, we can use the summer to strengthen the team. If you have the money, it is easier to bring in foreign players and strengthen your team. Our reinforcements this winter have been rather modest. However, we have the financial resources to make changes if the team does not perform well, which is something that other teams do not have.

Also, the level of the squad is still very high, although the winter reinforcements did not stand out. Among the newcomers are Paulinho, a midfielder who previously played for Matsumoto Yamaga, and Victor, a goalkeeper who played 23 games for Montedio Yamagata last season. The fact that we have solid reinforcements at the back will be a plus in J3. We also have a very physical player in Lucao, who is a good addition to the squad. He only played four games last season due to injury, but there is a good chance that he will be able to compete in J3.

Considering the size of the club, a return to J2 in one year is a must for Matsumoto Yamaga. As such, the team will do everything in its power to get back to the top of the table.


The main concern is that this is the first time they have played in J3, and they may well struggle in the more physical environment of J3. For example, SC Sagamihara, who are also relegated, have been in J3 before and will know how to play in it. If they struggle to cope with J3, they could drop to the middle of the table.

Also, the team was not in good form last season. It will also be important to see if they can get rid of their poor form from last season.

Key players

The key player is the aforementioned Lucao, who scored 10 goals in 24 games for Zegen Kanazawa in J2 in 2020, and with his ability to score 10 goals a season in J2, he should be able to do even better in J3.

He was the top scorer in J3 last season with 13 goals. Of course, the number of games played this season is different to last season, so it is not a simple comparison. But if Lucao can score double figures in J2, we can expect him to be a top scorer. He is a very important player for Matsumoto Yamaga if they are to win the championship and be promoted.

Cataret Toyama


The fourth team is Cataret Toyama. Cataret Toyama finished 4th in J3 last year. They were seven points behind the second-placed team, who were promoted. We have chosen Cataret Toyama because of the continuity of their coaching staff and their good reinforcements.

Cataret Toyama will continue to be managed by Nobuhiro Ishizaki, who has been in charge since last season. Ishizaki has been a coach for many years in J1 and J2, and in 2019 he will be at Fujieda MYFC, where they also finished third in J3. In 2019, with Fujieda MYFC, he finished third in J3, and last season he finished fourth in his first season in charge, which shows just how good a manager he is. This is Ishizaki’s second year in charge, and he will be looking to improve the team.

Cataret Toyama have also made major additions to their squad this winter, following in the footsteps of FC Gifu. For example, they have signed last season’s J3 top scorer, Kawanishi, and midfielder Artur Silva from Yokohama FC, who were relegated to J2. Artur Silva has been a mainstay of FC Tokyo since 2020, making 29 appearances for the club. With this reinforcement, Cataret Toyama’s centre line will be considerably stronger. Thus, in terms of strength, Cataret Toyama is a top contender this season.

The reinforcements are good and the coach is in his second year, so we can expect a repeat of last season.


One of the main concerns is that the team lost momentum in the second half of last year. In the first seven games of last season, from the 24th to the last day of the season, we won one game, lost four and lost two, which shows how slow we were in the end. If we have a good start to the season, it will be interesting to see how many wins we can get in the final stages.

Key players

The key player is Kawanishi, last season’s top scorer, who has joined from FC Gifu. This reinforcement will not only strengthen the team, but also weaken the rivals.

Kawanishi will have to be as good as he was at FC Gifu to give the team a winning performance. If Kawanishi can be the top scorer again this season, the team will inevitably finish higher.

J3 Championship Prediction Summary

What do you think? There are four teams relegated from J2 this season, so we can expect a more mixed field than usual. Iwaki FC, who have been promoted, have the potential to make a breakthrough in J3 with their physicality. So, whether it’s the stronger teams that come out on top or the dark horses, keep an eye on J3 this season.


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