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Nakajima raring to kick-off Al Duhail career

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Shoya Nakajima-Al Duhail-AFP

Doha: Japanese international Shoya Nakajima is eager to get his Al Duhail career started after signing for the Qatar Stars League champions.

Al Duhail recently announced the signing of Nakajima from Portuguese top-flight side Portimonense on a four and a half years contract, having earlier strengthened their ranks by bringing in Morocco international Medhi Benatia from Italian giants Juventus

Nakajima said he was excited about the transfer.

"I made the decision because everything about the club was attractive," the 24-year-old attacker said.

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Nakajima is a welcome addition to the Al Duhail ranks as they get set to resume their league campaign following a two-month break for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.

Al Duhail went into the break in second place, two points behind Al Sadd after 15 matches. They will play their first game at home on February 16.

"It's important to show what I can do on the pitch. I want to contribute in every match," Nakajima, who will be wearing the No 10 jersey, said.

🇯🇵 | شويا ناكاجيما 10#الدحيل #قطر

— نادي الدحيل الرياضي (@DuhailSC) February 5, 2019

The former FC Tokyo player was included in Japan's AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 squad but a calf injury forced his withdrawal.

After having missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, Nakajima has emerged as a key player under Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu.

Ironically for Nakajima, Japan lost 3-1 to Qatar in the UAE 2019 final and among his teammates at Al Duhail will be tournament MVP Almoez Ali, whose spectacular opener against the Samurai Blue saw him setting a new AFC Asian Cup record of nine goals, one more than the previous record of eight held by Islamic Republic of Iran's Ali Daei.

Besides helping Al Duhail's domestic campaign, Nakajima will also be counted on to spearhead the Qatar's club's 2019 AFC Champions League challenge.

They are in Group C with Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal, Al Ain of the UAE and Iran's Esteghlal FC, who they face in the opening tie on March 6.

Al Duhail's 2018 campaign was ended by Iran's Persepolis in the quarter-finals but with Nakajima in the ranks, the Qatar club will be aiming for a more successful 2019.

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