News • January 22, 2016

Kawata Believes He Can Lead The Line For White Swans


Written by: Shawn Lim

He exchanged a quick one-two with teammate Fumiya Kogure, before sliding the return pass into the net to give Albirex Niigata (S) the lead in their RHB Singapore Cup Semi-Final second leg match against Global FC.

That was just one of the 11 goals that Atsushi Kawata scored in all competitions last year, but the 23-year-old is confident he is the one to lead the line for the White Swans this upcoming season and cure their inability to score goals last year.

The Japanese side were the early frontrunners for the Great Eastern Yeo’s S.League 2015 title, but injuries to main striker Shotaro Ihata meant that the burden of scoring goals were placed on midfielders Kogure, Kawata and Rion Taki.

However, the trio only accounted for 18 goals amongst themselves in the league, which ultimately hurt their club’s chances of winning the elusive league title and gave the White Swans the lowest scoring record in the league with only 27 goals scored.

Even though the White Swans did a cup double by winning both The New Paper League Cup and RHB Singapore Cup, it was scant consolation to the Japanese side when they failed to win the league title as well.

Now that Kogure, Taki and Ihata have all departed Jurong East Stadium, Kawata is determined to cement his place upfront even though he has played mostly on either side of the wings for a large part of his career.

The Japanese’s confidence stems from the fact that he feels he has matured as a player after his debut season in the S.League last year and is ready to unleash his full potential.

“As a team, we had a good season. But personally, I didn’t think I played as well as I could, so I wasn’t satisfied with my performance last year,” Kawata told the official S.League website.

“The physical contact in the S.League is very different back in Japan, so I was struggling in these kind of situations last year.

“But I have improved a lot as a player since I started playing in the S.League, so this year, I want to try to score as many goals as possible.

“For me, I want to play as close to the goal as possible and I’m confident I can play as a striker upfront.”

New head coach Naoki Naruo, into his second stint with the White Swans, has identified Kawata has his key player and plans to build his team around the former high jumper.

While Kawata was pleased to know that he will feature in the Nauro’s plans, he is also aware that he will face competition for a place upfront in the form of man-mountain Kazuki Mine, who stands at 1.9m tall.

The Japanese is unfazed by the pressure and competition because he has complete faith in his own abilities.

“I am not sure what’s his style is so far, but offensive wise, I can complement my abilities with his style,” said Kawata.

“Of course, I feel the pressure as a key player. But that said, I enjoy playing under pressure, so I am looking forward to the upcoming season.”