Akasaki targeting Nabisco Cup win followed by Japan call

Akasaki targeting Nabisco Cup win followed by Japan call

Shuhei Akasaki has declared he intends to end his wait to lift silverware with Kashima Antlers by winning the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup final against Gamba Osaka at the end of October.

The 24-year-old was speaking upon receipt of the competition’s New Hero Award, awarded to him in recognition of his two goals and two assists in the tournament which contributed to his team’s progress to the final. 

His performance in the semi-finals against Vissel Kobe drew particular acclaim from the media, leading to his victory via ballot count total.

But while the forward was happy to receive the individual prize, he hopes to soon celebrate a team victory and his first trophy at the club come the final at Saitama Stadium on October 31. 

“I’m incredibly happy to receive such a prestigious award,” Akasaki commented. “I was able to accomplish this thanks to everyone involved with the club. 

“We entered the knock-out stages [at a good time], as it was after [new manager Masatada] Ishii took over and I started to get more appearances.

“Antlers haven’t won a trophy since I joined the club, so I want to win the final and earn my first title. 

“A lot of the players who have won this award have played for the national team, so first we have to win this tournament and then I want to play again at Saitama Stadium [by earning a call-up to Vahid Halilhodzic’s Japan side].”