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Friday, March 2, 2007
S-Pulse's Fujimoto eyes national team
Up-and-coming playmaker Jungo Fujimoto has set his sights on a place in the Japan national team this year, and Shimizu S-Pulse coach Kenta Hasegawa believes he is ready to make the step up.
Ivica Osim selected the 22-year-old midfielder for the recent four-day training camp in Chiba after Fujimoto caught the national team boss' eye with eight goals for S-Pulse last year.
After rubbing shoulders with some of the stars of Osim's Japan, Fujimoto now has a taste of the big time and wants to do all he can to make the squad for Japan's friendly against Peru in March.
His first chance to impress comes in Shimizu's first game of the season Saturday at home to Ventforet Kofu.
"I really want to play in every game this season and make it my aim to be the best there is in my position," Fujimoto told The Japan Times.
"Me and the team are getting a lot of attention at the moment and we want to turn it on for those watching.
"We need to do this from the get-go -- and that means we need to play a concrete game against Kofu."
Hasegawa said the young Fujimoto, named best new player in 2006, is still improving and should be a more exciting proposition than last year -- which should open the door for a international call-up.
"You can expect a lot from him this year," Hasegawa said. "I am hoping he will be called up by the national team."
Shimizu had no problems with goals last season, with Fujimoto only in the supporting cast of scorers at the club. South Korean striker Cho Jae Jin scored 16 league goals last year, while new signing Akinori Nishizawa scored eight for Cerezo Osaka.
Hasegawa is expecting even more goals to be created by Fernandinho, signed from Gamba Osaka, and the coach believes the playmaker is one of the final pieces in the jigsaw that can elevate S-Pulse to an even better league finish than last year's fourth position -- if the team stays injury free.
"Since Fernandinho joined us, preseason couldn't have gone better," said Hasegawa.