Defensive powerhouse Kazuma Kobayashi has stunned Gold Coast football followers and this week signed to play for the Nerang Eagles in the 2019 Football Gold Coast Premier League.
After trialling with the Brisbane Strikers, Kobayashi has abandoned his potential NPL opportunity to put his everything in for Nerang, citing his desire to play within an organisation and squad renowned for intensity, success and a driving work rate.
The 23-year-old defensive midfielder joins with a groundswell of talented players who have recently defected to the Eagles.
“I’ve come to Nerang to get the best training and play to win,” said Kobayashi, who is hoping to make an immediate impact with the club when he steps onto the field in the red for the first time.
Despite a tumultuous 2018 season after being shuffled between clubs to eventually land a spot with the Burleigh Bulldogs, Kobayashi is confident that he has found his calling with the Eagles under coach Dave Benigno, for whom he has a deep respect for.
“I have wanted to train again under Dave for a while now, and I like his style of football and the level of energy that he brings – he is very kind and very good at what he does,” explained Kobayashi.
The Japanese rising star exploded onto the Gold Coast football scene in 2017 and despite a late start this year with Burleigh, he managed to put away 8 goals this season from the centre fullback position, earning the impact player a coveted spot in the Football Gold Coast 2018 All Star representative team.
Kazuma Kobayashi hails from Tokyo and was a formidable player for the Chiba National University before moving to Queensland to explore football career options aimed primarily at improving the physicality and competitiveness of his game.
“I’m looking forward to this coming season a lot more, and I hope to work with the team and younger Academy players to help lift the fighting spirit within the squad – to make us all very hungry to win,” said Kobayashi, adding that he also has a larger vision for his football future, setting his sights on returning to Japan one day to play professionally.
“I’m so happy to represent Nerang and will do my best, but I want to eventually play in the J-League and I’m going to do everything I can to make that dream happen,” he said.
Kobayashi also said he has a simple view about what it will take to realise his dreams and make them a reality.
“I am always thinking about scoring goals, always thinking about putting the ball into the net … that’s what I want to do,” said Kobayashi
Coach Benigno: Fans Should Expect Fireworks On The Bob Jeffrey Field In 2019
Incoming Eagles coach Dave Benigno has lifted the lid on what he thinks will be one of the most exciting teams on the Gold Coast in recent years.
Benigno has called on the local community to get behind the Eagles and that spectators and fans can expect to see plenty of explosive action and flair on the Bob Jeffrey Field at Nerang next season.
“I think people are going to see an increase in competitiveness and a different brand of football with a little more passion … I can’t promise anything but floating in the top 4 is where we want to be,” he said.
“I think the players will go out on the field with a renewed passion next year, not just a passion for the love of the game or who their coach is, but this time it’s a real passion for the Nerang club and the history – wearing the Nerang emblem on your shirt and the Academy Of Football on your sleeve and making it that important so the players know they’re playing for the Eagles and that’s something very big and real,” explained Benigno.
The former Surfers Apollo coach and Merrimac FC stalwart has been waiting for the chance to have Kazuma play under him again in a quality squad after both coach and player missed their opportunity at the Knights earlier this year.
Benigno has been bolstered by the addition of yet another marquee player to his 2019 team saying, “I think he’ll strengthen the squad even further and compliment those who we’ve already signed – including Tolga Yorulmaz (Surfers Apollo and Adanaspor in Turkey), Tim Jackson (Gold Coast City and Gold Coast United strength coach) and Acim Tomic (Gold Coast United).
“Of course, not losing sight of the wealth of young talent that’s coming up and through at Nerang, I think Kaz will once again be a force to be reckoned with and worth watching,” said Beigno.
“He’s probably the most agressive Japanese player I’ve ever seen. Phelo (Burleigh Coach Colin Phelan) said the same thing – that he’s an absolute beast for his physicality as a Japanese player.
“I think he’ll be exceptional on the field for Nerang,” said a confident Dave Benigno.
“He also has an extremely strong mental will and want that affects everyone around him and I’m all about that.
“There’s a psychological aspect in my coaching game, from the change room into half time – all the time. It’s a matter of getting into people’s heads and making sure we all know what our directives are and what we need to do when we go out there,” added Benigno.