Arsenal Ladies shrugged off jet lag to don their boots for a first training session on Japanese soil on Saturday.
At what would have been 1am back home, the Ladies sought to convince creaking limbs it was time to play football at the Urawa Red’s training complex in Reds Land, Saitama.
Joining Laura Harvey’s team in their preparations for Wednesday’s curtain raiser against INAC Kobe was Japan youth international Kumi Yokoyama.
18-year-old Kumi, who trained with the Gunners’ youth side earlier this month in London, became the latest in a clutch of talented young Japanese players to practise with the Ladies.
Winner of last year’s prestigious FIFA Puskas Award, for her wonder goal against Korea DPR in the semi-finals of the 2010 Women’s World Cup, the youth star swapped practise with her Jumonji High School team for some time with the Gunners, and manager Harvey was impressed with what she saw:
“Kumi joined in our session today, and did really well to be fair,” said Harvey.
“We knew she was a good player already of course, from her performances in last year’s Under-17 World Cup and her previous sessions with our youth team at Colney – and she certainly kept up with the rest of the squad today.
“She even got herself a couple of goals against Emma [Byrne], who’s a top-drawer international keeper, so it went well! I’m sure she has a bright future ahead of her.”
The Gunners enjoyed a warm welcome from the Urawa Red's Ladies team after their session.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source