Masato Kudo is a Japanese soccer player who plays for Brisbane Roar in A-League, currently second happiest on the club bench behind defender John Terry. The 24-year-old has featured several times for his country and he has become a respected part of the Roar squad due to his performances on the field as well as his leadership qualities. He has also been capped four times by the Japan Football Association. Given his age and his limited playing time it is no surprise that many are betting big money that he will be chosen ahead of defenders Mattega and Michael Morgan this season. While some may doubt his ability to hold a left wing position in a Roar side featuring star players like Kaka and marquee forward marquee, others are of the opinion that given the chance, Masato Kudo will excel at right wing.
However, the one thing that stands between Masato Kudo and a permanent place in Roar's starting XI is consistency. A year on and a half off for most players these days, it is no wonder that Masato is still unsure whether he is good enough to start at left or right wing. Kudo has started only two games for his country and those were against top sides in New Zealand and Scotland. Given his lack of match playing time and the uncertain future of Roar's most promising signing, it is no wonder why Masato is not putting in the same effort at right wing that he does at left.
The answer to the question of whether or not Masato Kudo should start in the A-League next season lies in his two goals for BNZ Lions against Western Sydney Wanderers in the opening round of the season. In both games Masato impressed the visiting supporters with his displays of skill. Although not technically perfect, he was certainly up to the task and he looked comfortable and confident going forward. After scoring two goals in both of his appearances he received rave reviews from coach Mark Harvey who labelled him as a “class player”. However, despite the positive outlook offered by both the coach and star player, many League fans are worried that this bright spark of light will not be able to sustain his performance in the top flight for another season.
Despite having only two senior international appearances, Masato Kudo remains the only Japanese player in the starting line-up. Despite being one of the youngest players ever to feature in the A League, the defender has also impressed coach Neil Fairburn with his attitude and commitment to the club. Despite missing several days of training with the first team due to an illness, Kudo returned to complete full fitness last weekend and looked lively during the 2-1 victory over Perth Glory. Although he did not feature in the 2-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory, Coach Fairburn praised the defender's performance and again expressed his confidence in the player. According to the club's official website, Masato will be confirmed to face Socceroos for the second international friendly against England later this year and is hopeful of featuring against them.
Masato is yet to score a goal for the club, although he did feature throughout pre-season thanks to injuries suffered by marquee players Emile Rouzier and Kevinacca. Despite making only one appearance so far, Kudo impressed the club's coaching staff with his performance. According to Fairburn, the right-back is looking to build on the positives of his two previous appearances, which came against Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix. Kudo made an outstanding save against Victory in the dying minutes of their opening game and although the win was not his finest of displays, he did enough to impress the coach. With one goal in his first two appearances, Masato is still waiting for his first senior international goal, although he insists he is confident of becoming a regular in the Japan squad.
Like most youngsters in the country, Masato knows the pressure that comes with making your own star. Despite earning only a base salary of just over $80k per season, he is yet to earn a regular place in the team, despite being one of the best young defenders in the club. Despite this, Masato is convinced that given enough time and the chance, he will prove his worth to the club and the country. Whether or not he ever develops a goalcraving partnership with fellow right-backs Emile Rouzier and Kevinacca remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Masato Kudo is an exciting player for Panasonic Japan and his dream of playing in the top leagues could very well come true for the teenage defender.
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