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Former NPL players aim to make a mark on the A-League Pitch

Adelaide United’s Japanese midfielders, Nanako Sasaki (left) and Reona Omiya (right). Source: Adelaide United

Reona Omiya and Nanako Sasaki are two Japanese midfielders who have made an A-league debut this season.

Two Japanese midfielders,  Reona Omiya and Nanako Sasaki, did not know each other's existence when they signed with the Adelaide United last year.

Reona, who arrived in Australia in 2020, had endured "the world's longest lockdown" in Melbourne, before finding her way to South Australia. Despite an intermittent two seasons, the 30 year old has managed to make a mark on the NPL field with 11 appearances and 3 goals, winning herself the ticket to A-League Women's.

Due to the Omicron variant spreading across the country, match and training schedules have been uncertain, with last minute changes occurring frequently. However,  Reona says, having experienced the lockdowns in Melbourne, she is "not bothered at all".

"My mental health has been strengthened" she spoke to SBS Japanese. 

Reona Omiya Adelaide United
Adelaide United midfielder, Reona Omiya has endured lockdown over 2 seasons in Melbourne, before moving to Adelaide
Adelaide United

Nanako Sasaki arrived in South Australia in 2017, shortly after graduating high school. The 22 year old says, her move to Australia was to learn English and not for football.

"I wanted to become a cabin attendant, but I continued to play football as a hobby" 

But soon, Nanako finds herself to be one of the best players in South Australia's WNPL, been named in the WNPL SA Team of the Year for the third consecutive seasons last year.

Nanako Omiya Adelaide United
Adelaide United Midfielder, Nanako Sasaki has played in the SA WNPL for the past 5 years.
Adelaide United

Although Nanako had joined the red's trainings last year, she signed with the club after Reona, and did not have a clue that another Japanese was on board.

" I am very shy" says Nanako, revealing that it took her sometime before they could start a conversation. 

"Every away game, we were put in the same room, so after awhile, we got along” says Reona.

Reona Omiya and Nanako Sasaki
Reona and Nanako are great supporter of each other.
Adelaide United

Compared to the NPL, "the intensity and speed is different" says Reona.

"There are lot more support staff, every single thing is much more thorough than in the NPL, so I can really focus on my own performance" adds Nanako.

"I have been juggling soccer, study and part-time job previously. But now, as a professional soccer player, soccer is my work.The environment is there to focus on the sports" says Reona.

The two midfielders say, that the team has overcome the difficult time  of the COVID pandemic together, and this togetherness will be evident in their play. 

"We will do our best to win, so please support us"

Adelaide United Women's next match will be against Wellington Phoenix on Friday January 21, at Cooper's Stadium. For all fixtures, click here.

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