Ryuji Sueoka: I joined East Bengal because of the chance to play in the AFC Cup

The Japanese member of the Red and Gold squad wants to hit the ground running at his new club...


Ryuji Sueoka, the new Japanese recruit of East Bengal has started to love life at his new club and is undergoing a strenuous preparation for the season that will start in a month’s time.

“I love the atmosphere here. Supporters are coming to attend even the practice sessions. We have a good squad this time and we need to train hard in the pre-seasons,” Sueoka told GOAL.

The playmaker, who is in India for the last five years is currently undergoing treatment for an injury in the calf muscle.

“Yes, I have an injury in my leg. It will take around a week to recover, that’s what doctors have told me. I had my MRI done a couple of days back and the report said that I have a small tear. The treatment has started and Samrat [Samajdar] (East Bengal physiotherapist) is working with me. It’s a slow recovery process,” he informed.

Filling in the void for Penn Orji

Following the exit of Penn Orji, the responsibility of feeding the towering strikers with quality balls in the box lies primarily on Sueoka. His last season with Dempo was marred with injuries and a section of the Red and Gold faithful are worried that his stint with the Kolkata club doesn’t turn out the same way.

“Last year I had injured my foot in a game. This time it is the calf muscle. This is a fresh injury, which I suffered a week back. There is nothing to worry for the supporters,” he remarked.

Sueoka has now joined the league of foreigners who have plied their trade for both East Bengal and Mohun Bagan. He however, rates his current side a bit higher.

“This is not because I am playing for East Bengal. I think the facilities like ground, gymnasium etc are better here. But remember, I am comparing with the time when I used to play for Bagan. Things may have improved there also,” he said cautiously hoping not to alienate fans from either side.

'Salgaocar was no mistake'

Sueoka revealed that back in 2010, he had snubbed East Bengal in favour of a move to Salgaocar FC where he went on to win the I-League.

“I think I took the right decision for me that time. We had won the I-League that year. But now, I selected East Bengal mainly because I will have an opportunity to play in the AFC Cup. We have the match coming up in September and I will prepare myself for the vital match,” he said.

On being pressed as to whether it was the lure of working with his former coach Karim Bencherifa at Salgaocar which influenced his decision to not join East Bengal, Sueoka responded with a smile saying, “Let’s not talk about that.”

Apart from Sueoka, another Japanese midfielder in Yusa Katsumi is also in Kolkata and has joined Mohun Bagan after pulling off a number of stellar performances for ONGC FC.

“Since both of us are staying near the South City mall, we meet very often. He (Katsumi) is a rival on the field, but a very good friend off it. I wish him all the luck,” Sueoka signed off.


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