STUFF.co.nz – Brendon Egan
apanese striker Futa Nakamura made a dream start to his time at Canterbury United, scoring twice in a 4-2 pre-season win over Tasman United on Sunday.
Wearing the red-and-black shirt for the first time, off-season addition Nakamura took his chances well in front of goal, impressing in his 45 minutes of action at Christchurch’s Tulett Park.
Converting promising opportunities into goals has long been a source of frustration for Canterbury, but Nakamura showed enough to suggest he’ll be a handy acquisition up front.
He raced onto a well-timed pass from Stephen Hoyle for his first and reacted quickly late in the first half to net a double.
With Canterbury and Tasman meeting in the second round of the ISPS Handa Premiership in Christchurch on October 29, neither side was going to give away much in their first pre-season hit out.
Both coaches rotated their squads around, almost completely swapping their first half line-up during the halftime break.
Canterbury coach Willy Gerdsen gave game time to 18 players with former Manchester City academy player George King making his first appearance as a Dragon in a defensive midfield role.
Captain Aaron Clapham was the lone Canterbury player to be involved for the full 90 minutes in balmy 20 degree Christchurch sunshine.
Nakamura, who most recently played for Phnom Penh Crown FC in the Cambodian League and has turned out in the Queensland and New South Wales national premier leagues, sent Canterbury into halftime the happier of the two sides at 2-0.
Fellow forward Hoyle saluted his impact and said it was an encouraging early season sign.
“He’s technically a really good footballer. I really like playing with him. You can see he’s intelligent when he makes his runs.
“He wants to link up all the time. Hopefully, he can be the missing piece we’ve not had to improve the team.”
Young FC Twenty11 duo Seth Clark and Jacob Richards did not look out of place stepping up to the Dragons ranks. Clark was one of Canterbury’s best in the first half and Richards, who was initially used up front, scored the side’s third goal.
“Seth and JJ (Richards) are unbelievable for their age,” Hoyle said.
“Maybe something we were lacking last season, a couple of 16 and 17 years olds with real quality. They come into the squad and if anything they raise the level of the training.”
Tasman coach Davor Tavich took some positives from his side’s endeavour in the second half, fighting back from 3-0 down.
English forward Kieran Smith caught the eye, setting up their first goal, then hammering home the second past Coey Turipa late in the match.
Tavich was satisfied with the showing, considering Tasman have only had limited time together as a group.
“The quality was obvious today. Again, when we get combinations going between the players and when they get to know each other a little bit better, I think they’re going to get better.”
Tasman were guilty of conceding the odd soft goal and being caught out at the back, which needed to improve, Tavich said.
“We have to increase the intensity and the speed we play with the ball. Off the ball, we have to be smarter with how we defend and obviously defensively, a lot of work in general.”