Scouting Japan: Part Two – by Jake McGhee
Hosoya is a 20 year old centre forward who is enjoying a fruitful season in the J-League this season, finding the net 6 times and providing 3 assists in 16 appearances, a good return for a relatively young striker. Hosoya’s Reysol currently sit in 4 th place in the league at the time of writing and Mao has certainly played his part, an integral part of the team this season he has been a fantastic talisman for the Kashiwa based side. A brilliant finisher, Mao excels in front of goal as his form this season proves, a reliable striker who makes incisive runs off the shoulder of the defenders paired with good speed makes Mao a nightmare for defenders. Aside from his goal scoring his physicality is also very impressive: he is a strong, powerful runner and can hold his own in 1v1’s, this allows for him to act as both a holdup striker and a more mobile striker depending on the situation showcasing his versatility and adaptive nature.
Takuma is a 19 year old left back who has struggled for game time this season, making his debut in 2021 and featuring sporadically in cup fixtures. At only 19 years old he is a player with various weaknesses in his game that have to be ironed out, particularly his physicality as he is still quite light. However, Takuma is a very hard runner and works hard for the team, his stamina is impressive for his age as is his determination and willingness to work. A very mentally strong player he rarely stops running, he has the basic foundations to become a solid fullback, a sound range of passing and ability to drive with the ball, naturally with a lack of game time he still has many aspects of his game which he needs to polish up on but with a loan spell elsewhere or a run in the first team he has all the ingredients to become a first team quality fullback.
A player who is enjoying his breakout season at the age of 22 Kaito is a perfect example of a tall number 9, something which Japan’s national team has been crying out for. Grabbing 4 goals in 7 appearances in the league it’s safe to say Kaito knows where the goal is, his ice cold finishing and presence of mind allow for him to dispatch chances with ease as seen here:
Mori is a very powerful player, strong physically and mentally his charging runs see him shrug off defenders and finish expertly. He is almost like a Japanese Haaland as he bulldozes through defences and unleashes powerful shots.
Kuryu is your traditional number 8, covers every blade of grass, pings balls for fun and generally dictates the game, and when you take into account the fact that he is only 19 this makes it all the more impressive. An elegant and powerful player Kuryu has made the step up from high school football to senior football seamlessly, his adaptive nature is testament to his playstyle also, a constantly pragmatic and reactive player who at such a young age excels in a variety of situations, whether he is closing down the opposition or feeding a ball through to teammates he is a reliant and steady performer. A tough tackler and a determined player Kuryu operates incredibly well as part of a double pivot which allows him to cover a particular half of the pitch and operate without fear of being exposed defensively. A player hailed as incredibly mature for his age Kuryu certainly has a bright future ahead of him and has already been touted for a move to a European side.
Kashif is a typical modern fullback, full of energy, direct, dangerous and productive. At just 20 years old he is starting to get more game time for FC Tokyo, the ability to operate as an inverted fullback is a key calling card of his game. He often drifts inward to pick up the ball in more central positions and advance up the pitch, Kashif is a brilliant passer of the ball also, particularly his crossing. His final product is good as he often finds himself on the edge of the box swinging a ball into the box, with more game time he should establish himself as a trademark of this FC Tokyo side.
Although Teppei is on loan at J2 side Tochigi SC it’d be a crime to leave him out, a naturally gifted attacking midfielder who possesses the ability to orchestrate attacks from his number 10 role. The 20 year old has been sent out on loan this season in hopes to prepare him and refine his game for next season, whilst he excels on the ball and effortlessly picks out key passes and slips by defenders he must improve physically and in a defensive manner, he is blessed with the ability to operate in tight spaces with his quick feet and an even quicker mind. Furthermore, he is a player who has a knack for a long shot as seen in this clip:
His playstyle is incredibly reminiscent of all-time Japan great Shinji Kagawa.
Yuki is a 21 year old left footed centre back, one of the most sought after profiles in the modern market. When this is coupled with his ability to drive on the ball and the passes he picks out during build up play it’s hard to see how a top club hasn’t brought him in yet, a hard working player who has great pace for a defender he is a nightmare for opposing strikers; strong, imposing and a real worry when he steps out of defence with the ball at his feet. Defensively speaking he is just as, if not more impressive, Yuki is incredibly intelligent and understands the game well with his anticipation being a key part of his game. Cool, calm and collected he positions himself well as part of a back 4 and often finds himself in the right place to shut down an opposition attack with a well timed tackle. Due to his height he is also a strong aerial threat earning most of his goals from set pieces:
Yutaro Oda is a 20 year old striker for Vissel Kobe, to say he’s lightning quick would be an understatement, blessed with incredible pace he causes havoc to opposition defence as he knows on sheer pace alone he has the beating of his man 100% of the time, whilst still being a bit rough around the edges with a couple aspects of his game needing improvement the raw talent is there for all to see.
His speed is undoubtably the most vital part of his game as it allows him to nick into situations before anybody else can as seen in the above clip, Yutaro is also a great technical player who has good ball control and displays a good level of decision making for his age.