Angkor Tiger have announced the signing of exciting midfielder Shodai Nishikawa, as coach Alistair Heath aims to rebuild after a disappointing 2022 season. We want to chat to him about the move and his hopes for the coming season.
Top real about interview with Alistair Heath click here.
What has been going on at Angkor Tiger?
Despite arguable having the best attack in the league last season, things have not been going to plan in the post-season, with a swath of star players, including the front 3 leaving the club. This has included the Brazilian pair Iago and Gabriel moving to PKR Svay Rieng, as well as Timorese protege Mouzinho moving to big-spending Visakha FC.
To read about Mouzinho moving to Visakha click here
Despite this the club have retained confidence in English coach Heath whose it will now be to rebuild the squad.
Who is Shodai Nishikawa?
A 29 year old Japanese midfielder, Shodai has had somewhat of journeyman career, which has included spells in Europe, Indonesia and most recently Tanjong Nagar United in Singapore.
After becoming a free agent he has now decided to join Japanese owned Angkor Tiger. We went to find out why.
Shodai Nishikawa can you tell us a bit about your background?
After graduating from Tsukuba University, I decided to take an alternate route to professional football. Instead of playing in the Japanese lower leagues, I earned a trial in Montenegro and I played there for a couple of seasons before deciding to play in the Singapore Premier League with Tanjong Pagar United. I was with the Jaguars for the past 3 seasons under the guidance of Singapore legends Noh Alam Shah and Hasrin Jailiani. My time in Singapore has helped me realize the potential of Southeast Asian football and I am determined to help the continuous development of the beautiful game here.
Why have you joined Angkor Tiger?
I wanted a new challenge and a new project to take on. After my contract ended with Tanjong Pagar United, with the help of sports marketing and management agency Rookbook Sports, I managed to gain exposure to and realized the potential of Cambodian football. I realized that football in Cambodia has grown rapidly over the years and it can reach higher levels. I had a meeting with Tiger head coach, Alistair Heath and General Manager Yusuke Shinoda. Both of them shared the club’s vision and expectations they had of me which I resonated with. Thankfully, together with Rookbook, we managed to secure a deal.
Can Tiger challenge this year?
I believe that anything is possible in football but what is most important is that we do what we can within our means. I aim to do my best and give my all to ensure that Tiger finishes as strongly as possible.
What do you think of the standard of Cambodian football?
While I have not actually played in Cambodia, I have been following Cambodian football for a while now. Many Singaporean-based Japanese players have played in Cambodia. For example, Rio Sakuma used to play in Singapore with Albirex before joining Tiffy Army. I believe that football in Cambodia is rapidly growing and we have started to see the results of this progress in the 2022 AFF Championship.
Do you see yourself staying in the Kingdom, or do you have grander plans?
My goal is to play continental football in Asia and I want to push myself to become the best I can be. It will be wonderful if I can make that dream come true with Angkor Tiger. Of course, it won’t be easy but having targets and goals are so important.
Which Tiger players should we watch out for next season?
From what I have gathered, I believe Angkor Tiger has many talents, and with the united spirit we want to achieve, i hope for the season many fans come down and catch us online as a whole team, as one unit. I do believe that more Singaporean fans will start following Tiger as well!
To check out the Angkor Tiger official Facebook click here.