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[ODDS and EVENS] Ayase Ueda Makes Successful Jump to Belgian Pro League

Ibaraki native and Japan national team regular Ayase Ueda is one of the top scorers in Belgium, notching 15 goals in Cercle Brugge's first 31 games this season.



Ayase Ueda
Cercle Brugge's Ayase Ueda competes against Gent in a Belgian Pro League match on January 29 in Bruges, Belgium. (KYODO)

Read the full story on SportsLook - Ayase Ueda Makes Successful Jump to Belgian Pro League

Ayase Ueda is having the best season of his five-year professional soccer career.

The 24-year-old center forward has scored 15 goals in 31 Belgian Pro League matches for middle-of-the-table club Cercle Brugge. Gent's Hugo Cuypers leads the league with 18 goals.

Ueda's scoring output represents nearly one-third of the team's total number of goals (43). 

With three matches remaining in the regular season, Cercle Brugge have 44 points (11 wins, 11 draws, nine losses) and currently sit in 10th place in Belgium's 18-team top-flight league.

In his first season in Belgium, Ueda has surpassed his career-high goal total (14), which he notched in 29 matches for the J.League's Kashima Antlers in 2021. The next season, Ueda put the ball in the net 10 times in 18 league contests.

Ueda is one of the core group of talented players under the age of 25 representing the Japan men's national team, overseas pro squads and the J.League. He made his FIFA World Cup debut as a 45th-minute substitute against Costa Rica on November 27, 2022.

Ayase Ueda
Cercle Brugge's Ayase Ueda scores on a penalty kick in the 36th minute against Kortrijk on April 1 in Bruges, Belgium. (KYODO)

Eager to Make an Impact

Sankei Sports columnist Kenji Iizuka's March 21 "No Ball, No Life column," noted the emphasis of the majority of Japan's top soccer players in the 21st century: seek opportunities in other countries. Iizuka wrote, "If you have the chance, go abroad while you're young," highlighting the popular plan.

Ueda has earned 14 caps playing for the Samurai Blue, aka the senior national team, over the past few years, while also suiting up for Japan's Under-21 and Under-23 clubs, including at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in 30 matches.

By all accounts, Ueda earnestly prepares for each match while he is with the national team.

Before Japan's international friendly against Ghana on June 9, 2022, in Kobe he addressed the issue of getting ready to play in this tuneup match a few months before the World Cup. 

"I want to prepare well so that I can give 100 percent when I am given the opportunity," Ueda commented.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven

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