Kobayashi insists he will have no difficulty adapting to South Korean football…

Former Japan international Yuki Kobayashi has begun his challenge in the K League 2 with Seoul E-Land FC.

The 29-year-old started his professional career with J2 League ouffit Tokyo Verdy FC before helping Júbilo Iwata into the J1 League. Besides turning up for Eredivisie side SC Heerenveen between 2016 and 2019, he also had stints with Waasland-Beveren and Al-Khor in the Belgian First Division A and Qatar Stars League respectively.

Kobayashi made his Seoul E-Land debut in a goalless draw against Gimcheon Sangmu on Monday. He emphasised that he needs time to adapt to South Korean football.

“I don’t feel worried. The reason it is difficult for Japanese players to show good performance in the K League is because this competition tends to be more physical and energy at a high level. I will try to adapt better,” Kobayashi said after his maiden K League 2 appearance.

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Despite interest from a K League 1 title contender, as well as clubs from the J League and parts of Europe, Kobayashi’s decision to join a second division side in South Korea came as a big surprise.

Reasoning the move, he said, “Because Seoul E-Land FC was so enthusiastic, it touched my heart and helped my decision to join the club. Since this is already halfway through the season, I will do my best to adapt myself fast. Although I have never experienced K League before, there are a lot of similarities with J League.

“I do not think it would be too difficult to adjust. I will make sure Seoul E-Land FC to be promoted to K League 1, which is our goal for this season.”

So far, and especially since the Asian Quarter system has been introduced in 2019 – that allows K League to add an Asian player on top of the 3 foreign players – 30 Japanese players have played in K League. Kobayashi is one of the six Japanese players to ply his trade in South Korea this season.

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Among Japanese players who featured in the K League 1 in the past, Sergio Ariel Escudero serves as a good example. He won the league after joining FC Seoul on loan in 2012, and was runner-up in 2018 with Ulsan Hyundai with whom he also reached FA cup final. He has 17 goals and 15 assists to his name from over 100 K League 1 appearances.

This season, Japanese nationals of the likes of Kunimoto Takahiro (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC) and Nishi Tsubasa (Daegu FC) are rendered key in their respective club’s campaigns in the K League 1. Kunimoto has won both, the K League 1 and FA Cup, last season. Whereas in the K League 2, Ishida Masatoshi (Daejeon Hana Citizen FC) helped his old team, Suwon FC, to be promoted; while Iwase Go (Ansan Greeners FC) and Tamura Ryosuke (FC Anyang) are also playing important role for their clubs.

 

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