HIROSHIMA – Defender Tsukasa Shiotani said Friday he is relishing the prospect of testing himself in the United Arab Emirates after securing a move to Al Ain from struggling Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The 28-year-old Shiotani, who has signed a two-year deal with the 2003 Asian Champions League winner, said, “I am looking forward to a new challenge and hope I can earn Japanese players a good reputation in the Middle East.
“I was shocked (at the offer from Al Ain). They are one of the leading clubs in Asia. There are not many Japanese players (in the Middle East) and maybe my move can pave the way for others to follow.
“There are a lot of good strikers in the league (there) and I want to go toe to toe with them and improve as a player,” he told a news conference.
Shiotani helped Sanfrecce win three league championship titles after joining from second-tier Mito Hollyhock midway through the 2012 season.
But he leaves with Sanfrecce third from the bottom of the J1 table approaching the midway point of the season.
“While I was at Mito my hope was that someday I would win the J1 championship and then move overseas,” Shiotani said. “I’ve experienced playing at the Club World Cup and the like and felt it was enjoyable playing in a tough environment.
“I feel bad (for Hiroshima) with the timing of the move, but I made this decision in order to improve as a player.”