New Wong Tai Sin striker Yuto Nakamura kindly took time out of his busy schedule to speak to offside.hk correspondent Jeff Hardbattle about his new team, his experiences with playing football in Hong Kong and abroad, and his stance on the current HKFA foreign player policies. A humble and friendly man, the 28-year-old Japanese striker also has a wealth of experience in the top flight after previously playing for Pegasus, Citizen and South China, and his loan move across the water to Wong Tai Sin is undoubtedly a major coup for his new team.
You’ve of course just been signed on loan by Wong Tai Sin from South China. How are you settling in?
Everyone at the club, from the players to the staff, have all been really friendly and welcoming since I’ve arrived, so I’ve had no problems with adjusting to the new team at all.
You’ve also had a lot of experience playing football abroad in Japan and in Portugal. How does playing in Hong Kong compare?
Portugal is a huge football-loving nation and naturally the standard is a lot higher. As a player there you’re also afforded a huge amount of respect, something which is still a bit lacking in Hong Kong. However, I really like how close the players are to the fans here and vice versa, and how you can talk to people so freely. I love that aspect!
Do you have any particular targets or goals for the coming season?
My main aim is to play every game whilst keeping myself injury-free. If I can do that then it won’t just be good for myself, but hopefully also have a positive effect on the team and our results.
As a Japanese national yourself, what are your thoughts on the current HKFA foreign player policies? Some teams have signed so many overseas players that it is likely that they won’t feature regularly in the league. Is this something that the HKFA should be held more accountable for?
(laughs) That’s a tough one! I think every fan dreams of seeing teams playing to a high level with quality overseas players. Of course the negative of that is that Hong Kong players’ game time is reduced, and that could become a big problem when you start to consider the future of the sport here. I think the HKFA might also consider limiting the amount of naturalised foreign players that are allowed to appear and play for clubs.
What would you say has been the highlight of your footballing career in Hong Kong so far?
There have been so many that it’s difficult to count, but playing for a fantastic team such as Citizen and also my dream of joining a club with a long history such as South China are definitely things I’ll never forget.
Wong Tai Sin kick off their season away to Dreams FC. How do you see the game ending and how many goals will you score?!
Winning the opening game is really important for us as a team as it will help build our confidence, so I will do everything I can to make sure we win! I want to score as many goals as I can to make that happen!
You can watch Nakamura play in his first game for Wong Tai Sin when they take on Dreams FC at Sham Shui Po Sports Ground on the 12th September. (Cover photo courtesy of ken_popo)