Friday’s inclusion of Daichi Kamada in Japan’s 28-man squad for four home games in June is just a reward for the role he played in helping German club Eintracht Frankfurt clinch their second Europa League title to fetch.
He was largely overlooked during Asia’s final qualifying round for this year’s World Cup, but Wednesday’s win against Glasgow Rangers was a timely reminder of the playmaker’s talent to Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu six months before the tournament in Qatar.
“There are only two or three Japanese players who play at clubs above (the level of) Frankfurt,” said a jubilant Kamada after his side won the title on penalties in hot Seville.
Daichi Kamada (L) and Makoto Hasebe of Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt celebrate winning the Europa League on May 18, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (kyodo)
“I’ve always been underestimated. I’ve managed to get back at people who think I can’t achieve things.”
The national team selection marks something of a return to favor for Kamada, who started Japan’s first three finals qualifiers last year but was substituted in the second half as Samurai Blue twice in a nightmare start to the round lost.
A change in formation saw Japan win the next six games to secure their place in Qatar before ending in a draw. Kamada lost his spot in the lineup in the process, remaining on the bench for three games before being completely left out for the last four.
With his national team ambitions taken a hit, Kamada focused his energies on his club and the 25-year-old has scored more Europa League goals than any other Frankfurt player in the competition, his last goal coming in the first leg of the semi-final at Westham.
Kamada didn’t score in the final against Rangers as his lob fell just over the bar in the second half.
But his silky touches gave their attack some much-needed pace and he converted his penalty from the post as the third goalscorer in the penalty shootout.
Daichi Kamada (R) of Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt dribbles the ball during the second half of their Europa League final against Scottish Rangers on May 18, 2022 in Seville, Spain. (kyodo)
“This is the moment when I was rewarded for the first time in my football career. I’m happy to have become part of (Frankfurt’s) history,” he said as the team clinched the last title they had won in 1970.
With four caps in June, including one against Brazil on 6 June, Kamada now has an opportunity to show Moriyasu what he’s worth ahead of Japan’s appearance on football’s biggest stage in November and December.
“I always play with pride (for the national team),” he said.
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