• Kyodo


Former German international striker Lukas Podolski impressed his new teammates on Friday as he began training with Vissel Kobe following his high-profile move to the J. League first-division club.

The 32-year-old Podolski, who was introduced by the club on Thursday, looked sharp during the light session and unleashed some rasping shots with his famous left foot.

“When he hits the sweet spot, the balls he makes are of the quality Japanese players can’t imagine,” defender Hirofumi Watanabe said.

Podolski greeted the players at the start of the session, saying, “It would be great if I could achieve something with you all.”

The World Cup-winning former Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Galatasaray star has joined Kobe on a two-and-a-half year deal and is expected to make his debut at home against struggling Omiya Ardija on July 29.

“I have time so I want to work my way toward my first game,” Podolski said.

Podolski said at news conference after arriving in Japan on Thursday that his target is to help Kobe secure a top-three spot and qualify for next season’s Asian Champions League.

Kobe sit 11th in the table at the halfway point of the season, 13 points behind reigning champion and current leader Kashima Antlers.

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