Singapore Premier League • January 28, 2023
Young Lions sign Japanese duo for upcoming Singapore Premier League season
Jun (L) and Kan Kobayashi at Geylang Training Centre, 26 January 2023. Photo: Leo Shengwei
SINGAPORE, 28 JANUARY 2023 – The Young Lions (YL) have officially signed former Albirex Niigata (S) captain Jun Kobayashi and playmaker Kan Kobayashi to be part of their squad for the upcoming 2023 Singapore Premier League (SPL) season.
The move comes after the club was allowed to register three foreign or overaged Singaporean players from this season on.
Since 2017, YL has comprised entirely of only local under-23 players and the last foreigner to play for the club was in 2016.
Football Association of Singapore Technical Director Michael Browne believes the Japanese duo will enable the YL team to be more competitive in the 2023 season.
He said: “With the regulation change, Philippe (YL Head Coach) and I discussed and agreed that we should identify foreign players who play down the spine of the team – as is the case with most clubs who bring in overseas players.
“Jun and Kan Kobayashi were among the players observed last season and they were certainly influential for Albirex. Furthermore, their statistical data compared favourably with the vast majority of players in the SPL in their respective positions.”
Jun Kobayashi wins a header, 1 April 2022
Both players were ever-present in the Albirex side that won the SPL title last season, with Jun starting 27 – joint-second highest in the team – out of a possible 28 matches and Kan 25 times. According to sports performance analysis provider InStat, Jun, 23, won 72 per cent of his challenges and 77 per cent of his aerial duels – the best among all centre-backs in the league.
His compatriot Kan, recorded a passing accuracy of 83 per cent and made 48 key passes throughout the season, ranking him third among all centre midfielders in the league. The 23-year-old also chipped in with five goals and six assists.
Kan Kobayashi in action against Lion City Sailors last season, 7 October 2022
Beyond their on-pitch contributions, the Japanese players were also signed to be role models to the local players.
YL Head Coach Philippe Aw said: “Albirex players have always been known for their high level of professionalism and tenacious work ethic and we want them to bring those traits to the team. Our young players need good examples to emulate and it will aid their development by training and playing alongside Jun and Kan.
“I am pleased that their paperwork has been sorted and I look forward to working with them throughout the season.”
YL Head Coach Philippe Aw introduces Kan and Jun Kobayashi to the team , 26 January 2023. Photo: Leo Shengwei
Browne added: “We expect the two players to be leaders in terms of their attitude and approach through the way they conduct themselves on and off the pitch. The YL players will benefit by observing, learning and eventually adopting these good habits.”
Contrary to earlier media reports, both Jun and Kan only arrived in Singapore on Thursday, 26 January 2023 and will take part in their first training session with the team next Monday.