Samurai Blue Asian Cup spotlight: Mao Hosoya

Samurai Blue Asian Cup spotlight: Mao Hosoya

The backbone of the Japan national team is the J.League, where all of its players come through on their way to the Samurai Blue. All 26 players on the AFC Asian Cup squad have been developed at J.League clubs and while 21 of them have moved abroad to play for some of the best teams in the world, five still suit up for domestic sides.

Perhaps none of them bring the promise of Kashiwa Reysol starlet Mao Hosoya.

Hosoya has been a regular for Reysol since he was a teenager and now, at 22 years old, he’s their full-blown star. The striker has led the club in goals in each of the last two seasons, doubling up on Reysol’s next-best goal scorer in 2023.

It’s not a stretch to say that Hosoya has done more to keep Reysol in the top flight than anyone else. He scored 14 of the team’s 33 goals last season, including four goals when the team managed points from five of their last six matches to narrowly avoid relegation.

Hosoya is an imposing athlete, able to run past defenders with ease and also bully backlines with his strength. Combine that with smart runs and excellent finishing ability, and you have a striker who can dominate with his athleticism, smarts and skill.

Between his obvious ability and proven performance, bringing Hosoya into the national team was an easy choice for manager Hajime Moriyasu. Hosoya got his first look for the Samurai Blue in 2022 and scored his first goal for the national team in 2023.

Now Hosoya is going to get his first chance in a major tournament and it wouldn’t shock anyone if the Asian Cup proves to be when he establishes himself as the go-to striker for Japan, a role he could occupy for years to come. Hosoya’s career is just getting started and he’s already a star for his club. Now, a breakout opportunity at the Asian Cup awaits him.