With two goals and two assists in his four games for Japan in the World Cup qualifiers, there should be no problem saying that Yuya Kubo is the future for the Samurai Blues.
At just 23, the forward is slowly shaping up as the national team’s main star today and in the future.
But the Gent attacker is reluctant to take sole possession of the spotlight, saying he owed much to his teammates, and that he is set to absorb more knowledge from his experienced teammates – namely Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki.
“They are very successful players with both clubs and country,” said Kubo of the two Shinjis in an interview with FIFA.com.
The 28-year-old Kagawa has scored 15 goals in 78 games since his return to Borussia Dortmund from Manchester United three years ago, while the 31-year-old Okazaki has played 67 league games (including this season’s opener) for Leicester City.
“I am doing my best to follow in their big footprints,” added Kubo of his older compatriots. “There is much to learn from them, although our respective playing styles are dissimilar.”
“I want to be a striker who can not only score but also create chances.”
The former Kyoto Sanga and Young Boys attacker acknowledges he is far from being a complete project, and he is ready to work on himself so he can live up to potential and be the next Japanese star after Hidetoshi Nakata, Shunsuke Nakamura, Yasuhito Endo and Keisuke Honda.
“I’ve been trying hard not to miss an opportunity to score when it comes,” said Kubo. “I guess I am not doing my job badly. But I don’t think I am already a star. There are many things I need to improve on, so I still need to work harder.”
Japan currently lead the World Cup qualifying table with 17 points in eight games, though they are just a point ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia, who they will face in their next match.
The Samurai Blue failed to beat the Socceroos when they met earlier in the qualifier, as their match in Australia ended in a 1-1 draw, though Kubo was not with the team back then.
If Kubo can score or at least help Japan beat the Australians, his resume can receive a good boost and will cement his status as the team’s next star.
“The next game will be crucial for us,” acknowledged Kubo.
“We are all too aware that we have to get ourselves well-prepared for this match. Personally speaking, this importance of this meeting needs no introduction. So I will get myself more than ready for the test against Australia.”