Japanese international signs for PS4 NPL club

Wollongong Wolves have announced the signing of former Japan international striker Yuzo Tashiro for the 2017 NPL NSW season.

In a major coup for the second-tier club, which has Hyundai A-League expansion ambitions, Tashiro has joined the Wolves after two seasons with Cerezo Osaka, helping them earn promotion to the J.League in 2016.

Tashiro, 34, played three internationals for the Samurai Blue in 2008 and was a team-mate of Western Sydney Wanderers winger Jumpei Kusukami at Cerezo in 2015.

The striker is expected to make his Wolves debut in their NPL NSW opener away to Parramatta on Saturday.

“I have had a great career so far and was looking for the next big challenge,” Tashiro said in a statement.

“Never having played in Australia and hearing so many wonderful things about the country and the people, I wanted to experience that myself.

“I was very lucky I managed to find a home here in Wollongong as the city is amazing, my team-mates and coaches have been fantastic and all the people I have met have been so friendly. I can’t wait to help the team be the best we possibly can.”

Tashiro scored eight goals in 31 appearances for Cerezo in Japan’s second division over the past two years, while he also has top-tier experience with Vissel Kobe, Kashima Antlers, Montedio Yamagata and Oita Trinita.

The centre-forward won three successive J.League titles with Kashima starting in 2007, while he has also lifted the Emperor’s Cup and Japanese Super Cup in his homeland.

Wollongong coach Jacob Timpano claimed Tashiro will ensure the Wolves have a “very potent” forward set-up this year alongside ex-Wanderers youngster Josh Macdonald and former Blacktown City striker Patrick Antelmi.

“Yuzo has gelled with the rest of the boys immediately which is very encouraging as he hasn’t been with us for all that long,” Timpano said.

“As the season progresses and he gets more comfortable and familiar with those around him I have no doubt he is going to be one of the real excitement machines of the league.”

Wollongong just avoided relegation to the second-tier of NSW football last year, finishing with 19 points from 22 matches.

The Wolves – who were twice champions of the National Soccer League – also qualified for the Round of 32 of the 2016 FFA Cup where they lost 3-0 to eventual finalists Sydney FC.