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AFC Asian Cup

Who is Keito Nakamura, Japan's rising star at AFC Asian Cup 2023?

Published at :February 3, 2024 at 5:26 PM
Modified at :February 3, 2024 at 5:26 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

Samannay Sen

Keito Nakamura plays for French League 1 club Stade de Reims.

Football enthusiasts across Asia are eagerly enjoying an exhilarating spectacle as the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar is edging towards the final day-by-day. As the tournament progresses, the Japanese youngster Keito Nakamura has caught attention of enthusiasts and pundits alike. The 23-year-old Japanese sensation scored an enthralling goal against Vietnam and is gearing up for the rest of the tournament, where he is expected to showcase his prodigious talent on the grand stage of continental football.

As four-time champions, Japan are gearing up their way towards the fifth title, and Keito Nakamura is gradually becoming a crucial part of the squad, especially with his speed and ball control. The Japanese has been in great form and will look to build on his performance for Japan in the upcoming fixtures.

Let’s dive deep into what exactly Keito Nakamura brings to the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

Prior Experience

Who is Keito Nakamura, Japan's rising star at AFC Asian Cup 2023?
Keito Nakamura celebrating a goal with his teammate. (Courtesy: AFC)

Hailing from a small city in Japan called Abiko, Chiba, the Japanese sensation Keito Nakamura spent his youth career in a famous club Mitsubishi Yowa in Tokyo. Nakamura made the transition to Gamba Osaka from the Kantō Soccer League side Mitsubishi Yowa before the commencement of the 2018 J1 League season. At a mere age of 17, he marked his senior debut on 24 February 2018 during a home fixture against Nagoya Grampus. Coming on as a substitute in the 69th minute, Nakamura made an immediate impact.

After joining Gamba Osaka, Nakamura was actively involved with their U-23 side in the J3 League. Across 15 appearances, he showcased his goal-scoring prowess by finding the back of the net four times. In 2021, Nakamura signed a three-year deal with Austrian club LASK.

The move to Stade de Reims in Ligue 1 marked a significant chapter in Nakamura’s career, offering him the opportunity to showcase his talents in one of the most competitive football leagues in the world. Stade de Reims, a club with a rich history and a tradition of nurturing talents, recognized Nakamura’s potential and secured his services, making him one of the few Japanese players to ply their trade in the French top flight.

Nakamura’s impact in Ligue 1 has been nothing short of impressive. Whether operating as a centre forward or a versatile winger, his ability to read the game and exploit spaces, has led to both goals and assists.

Oh! Nakamura featured in the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India too, scoring four goals and showing his flamboyant skills on the flanks. Consequently, he was the first Japanese player to score a hat-trick in a FIFA-event against Honduras.

Type of Player

Who is Keito Nakamura, Japan's rising star at AFC Asian Cup 2023?
Nakamura (#13) following up on his teammate. (Courtesy: AFC)

As the talismanic figure for the Samurai Blue, Keito Nakamura brings a unique blend of skills to the table. His ability to find the back of the net with clinical precision, coupled with his versatility on the field, makes him a potent force for opponents to contend with. Nakamura’s standout attribute lies in his exceptional dribbling skills, underscoring his significant potential.

With an impressive ability to maintain control of the ball, Nakamura combines precision and speed to outwit defenders effectively. His remarkable agility further enhances his gameplay, enabling swift changes in direction to exploit defensive weaknesses. At 23, Nakamura showcases proficiency in cutting inside from the left wing, and skilfully curling right-footed shots into the top corner. In the previous season with LASK, Nakamura demonstrated his goal-scoring prowess by securing 14 goals in 31 appearances.

Keito Nakamura is a versatile winger who will put tons of pressure on the opposition’s defense and create several goal-scoring chances in the coming matches of the AFC Asian Cup 2023.

What does he bring to the team?

Who is Keito Nakamura, Japan's rising star at AFC Asian Cup 2023?
It can be said that Nakamura will be a big name in Japanese football in the coming years. (Courtesy: AFC)

The young left winger Keito Nakamura from Japan brings in speed and the ability to score as Japan gear up for their fifth AFC Asian Cup title. His ability to read the game, make incisive runs, and score crucial goals will positively help Hajime Moriyasu and his side.

The prolific winger will look to impress with the smart timing of his runs and his ability to meet crosses before defenders. Altogether, Keito Nakamura will be a player to watch out for as he brings a lot of talent in himself.

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