FFA CUP: JAPANESE IMPORTS ON THE RISE IN AUSTRALIAN SOCCER’S 2ND TIER

Tasuku Sekiya has 5 goals this season with APIA Leichhardt sitting 2nd on the PS4 NPL NSW ladder

Takumi Sunada - Tasuku Sekiya - Yuta Konagaya
FFA Cup imports Sunada (Broadmeadow) Sekiya (Leichhardt) Konagaya (Blacktown)

The 2017 FFA Cup will once again see a number of Japanese players representing Australia’s second tier soccer clubs.

In the first week of FFA Cup fixtures (26/7/17) Edgeworth Eagles will travel to South Melbourne in Victoria. Edgeworth represent the Northern New South Wales conference of Australia’s second tier. The Eagles have young attacker Keigo Moriyasu who exploded onto the Australian football scene last year. Moriyasu scored 17 goals in his 21 matches in 2016, this season he has been a little less prolific with 6 goals from 15 matches so far.

A week later Tasuku Sekiya will line up for APIA Leichhardt against Tasmanian club Olympia FC. Leichhardt are expected to win this match despite playing away from home in chilly Hobart. Sekiya is in his second year with Leichhardt. Last year he scored 10 goals as the inner west club finished mid table in 8th. Sekiya has 5 goals this season with the club currently sitting 2nd on the PS4 NPL NSW ladder.

On Wednesday, 2nd August Blacktown City will face A-League opponents Central Coast Mariners. The match will serve as a measuring stick for Australia’s 2nd tier clubs. Blacktown City has been the dominant force in the NSW conference for the last four seasons. Along with Danny Choi and Bo Hyun Chun, Japan’s Yuta Konagaya will be adding a truly international flavour to the Blacktown line up. Twenty-three year old Konagaya came to the club via St. George in the NSW 2nd tier, after first arriving at Bunbury United in Western Australia’s lower tiers. The Waseda University graduate scored 7 goals for St.George last year, but he’s rarely seen time on the field at Blacktown City in 2017.

Another team from Northern NSW where Keigo Moriyasu plies his trade is Broadmeadow Magic. The Magic who have qualified for the FFA Cup previously have brought in their own Japanese import. Used sparingly Takumi Sunada has appeared 12 times for Broadmeadow in the PS4 NPL NNSW this year. The right back has contributed most of the time as a substitution. The club itself has been given a tough draw against Moreton Bay of Queensland. But the suburban Newcastle team has plenty of experience and some A-League quality in James Virgili. The former Jets winger slotted 18 goals from 18 games last year and this year he’s already provided 9. Though Broadmeadow are 5th in the NNSW conference there is a real possibility this squad could do some damage in the FFA Cup when you throw in the likes of Kale Bradbery, Pete Haynes and hard-man Josh Piddington.

The last of the FFA Cup clashes featuring Japanese talent will be Wednesday, 9th August. In that match Far North Queensland Heat will take on Sydney United in at Edensor Park in western Sydney. For Sydney United Yutaro Shin will line up in midfield. Shin has scored three goals for United as they battle for a place in the NSW conference finals. The midfielder has seen more game time than his compatriot at Far North Queensland, Shigeki Ono. Ono was signed to play in defence for the Cairns based club but language barriers have seen the youngster struggle to forge a regular starting position.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that Jumpei Kusukami will continue to ply his trade at Western Sydney Wanderers in the A-League this year. You can catch the Wanderers’ FFA Cup clash with fellow A-Leaguers Wellington on Tuesday, 1st August.

Catch first of the Westfield FFA Cup clashes tomorrow Wednesday, 26th July from 8pm AEST on Fox Sports or try online at this link.

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