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Football: Kashiwa’s Kudo hopes ACL success leads to more Japan call-ups

Striker Masato Kudo scored five goals as Japan’s Emperor’s Cup winners Kashiwa Reysol qualified for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Striker Masato Kudo scored five goals as Kashiwa Reysol qualified for the AFC Champions League quarter-finals for the first time. Photo: World Sport Group.

August 12, 2013: Striker Masato Kudo is hoping continued AFC Champions League success with Kashiwa Reysol this season can further boost his international hopes after scoring on his debut for Japan last month.

 

Kashiwa will meet Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia in the last eight of the continental club championship, with the first leg to be held in Japan on August 21, and the 23-year-old Kudo is looking to build on an impressive showing in the competition so far.

 

The young forward’s form – which has seen him score five times in this year’s competition – earned him a call-up to Alberto Zaccheroni’s squad ahead of June’s FIFA World Cup qualifier with Australia.

 

Although Kudo did not feature in the meeting at Saitama Stadium as Japan secured qualification for Brazil 2014, he did not have to wait long as the striker scored against China as he made his Japan debut in last month’s East Asian Cup.

 

It was a great experience to train and play with such famous players. I was able to learn so much from them and I will continue to try hard to return to the national team in the future,” Kudo said of his call-up.

 

“I still need to improve the quality of my first touch. When you are playing with players like Shinji Kagawa and Yuto Nagatomo, they never miss.

 

“With every match we play in the AFC Champions League against a team from overseas, I have been able to develop both the physical and mental sides of my game which means that I don’t get nervous anymore, whatever the situation.”

 

Kashiwa became the first J.League side to reach the last eight since Cerezo Osaka two years ago by winning Group H with an unbeaten record before seeing off 2006 champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the last 16.

 

The team resume their AFC Champions League campaign at home to Al Shabab on next week before travelling to Riyadh for the return fixture four weeks later.

 

Al Shabab lost just once in topping Group A ahead of Qatar’s El Jaish before sealing return to the last eight following their 2010 semi-final appearance with a 5-1 aggregate victory over Al Gharafa in the last 16, having exited at the same stage two years ago.

 

“We don’t know a lot about Al Shabab, but we will study them as we get closer to playing against them,” said Kudo, part of the Kashiwa squad that failed to advance past the group stage on their AFC Champions League debut last season.

 

“We know that we have to win the game we play at our stadium, and when we play away, we will look to fight hard. I also want to score as much as possible.

 

“We don’t need to change our style. We’ll just try to keep our normal style, as that has proven successful for us so far.”

 

For more information on this year’s AFC Champions League, visit:

www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league

www.the-afc.com/en/acl-2013-fixtures

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