Young players from Thailand and Indonesia joined Japanese players on Wednesday in tryouts at Chiba’s Fukuda Denshi Arena.
The yearly event, hosted by the Japan Pro Footballer Association, is an opportunity for J-League players with expiring contracts to find potential suitors, with over 100 club officials and media in attendance.
70 former J2 and J3 players were joined by Indonesia’s Ryuji Utomo and Syamsir Alam as well as Thailand’s Attawit Sukchuai and Adisak Kinosum, all of whom took part in the afternoon session.
The group seemed to struggle in the 7-on-7 warm-up games played on a nearby training pitch, but found their pace in 11-on-11 play as officials watched from the stands.
“It was great, but it was a little cold and there was a lot of wind,” said Alam, who created several chances with his set piece kicks. “It’s different from Indonesia because the level is higher in Japan. Everybody moves and tackles, but Indonesia is slower. I will have to improve my physique in order to compete with Japanese players.”
Ratchaburi midfielder Sukchuai denied he was nervous, despite being the event’s youngest participant: “I just did my best. I’m glad I could meet these players, it’s a big experience for me.
“The speed of the ball is faster than in Thailand, and Japanese players are more motivated than in the [Thai Premier League.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Utomo, an Indonesia Under-19 selection who plays for Persib’s Under-21 side.
“The rhythm here is fast; everyone passes and moves at the same time,” the defender noted. “It’s [a good experience] for us, but I need to improve my decision-making.”
The Southeast Asian players did appear to struggle as temperatures hit 12 degrees Celsius, a far cry from the mid-to-high 20s they are used to.
“My biggest problem today was the weather,” admitted Kinkosum, who belongs to Chainat FC. “But I’m impressed with Japan’s professional players.”
Prior to the tryout, the Indonesian players trained with J2 side Jubilo Iwata while the Thai players joined Tokyo Verdy’s youth squad.
“It was surprising because [Jubilo] were concentrating on the [J1 Promotion Playoff] and still welcomed us to their training,” Alam said of his time with the former J-League champions, who lost their playoff match against Montedio Yamagata on Sunday. “I’m sad about their situation, to lose like that in additional time.”
“Japanese teams focus on the relationships between the players,” Kinkosum reflected. “In Thailand they focus on individual potential, but in Japan they focus on the teamwork.”
Two more Southeast Asian players scheduled to participate, Indonesia’s Gavin Kwan and Thailand international Jakkapan Pornsai, were late cancellations due to illness and club obligations respectively.