Fitzgerald’s ‘doggedness’ can get Kawasaki over the line

Kawasaki Frontale meet with Suwon Samsung Bluewings on Tuesday in the AFC Champions League and Michael Fitzgerald is confident his mind-set can help earn the Japanese outfit a crucial three points.

With two rounds of fixtures remaining, Group G in the AFC Champions league is delicately poised. Suwon lead with eight points, Guangzhou Evergrande are second with six points and Kawasaki are third with four points. The significance of Tuesday is clear for all to see.

Victory for Kawasaki would go a long to ensuring that they will make it out of the group stages as they play Eastern AA in the final round of fixtures and they will fancy their chances against the Hong Kong team.

At the heart of their defence on Tuesday will be New Zealand born Fitzgerald. The now Japanese citizen made the switch from Albirex Niigata in the off-season and is confident his win-at-all-costs mind-set will be an asset against Suwon.

“I want to play nice soccer and Kawasaki play nice soccer, but most of all I just want to win,” Fitzgerald explained when questioned on the value he adds to Kawasaki as a player who learnt his football outside of Japan.

“I just want to defend and keep a clean sheet, which I think is a bit different.

“Everyone works hard from a young age in Japan. You see the young kids coming through the youth programme, after training they’re still there and they train every day of the week.

“Whereas in New Zealand, when I was nine or 10, I only trained two or three times a week.

“But then I think that they don’t relax and enjoy it as much here like the foreigners do. You see that in training, they’re awesome trainers, but then when it comes to a game at the crucial point they aren’t as relaxed.

“When it comes to the crunch time some of them, not all of them, find it a bit more difficult. I think foreigners train and train but then want to be there at the crunch time, which I think is a bit different.”

If Kawasaki are to win, Fitzgerald and his co-defenders will have their hands full.

Suwon won their last AFC Champions League game 5-0 against Eastern and both Ko Seung-Beom and Johnathan netted braces.

The match kicks-off at 18:00 (HKT) at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in South Korea.