Nagai sets bar high on Glory return
Ryo Nagai. Pic: WA News

Exciting Japanese winger Ryo Nagai has set himself two specific targets after returning to Perth Glory on a season-long loan deal from Cerezo Osaka.

First, he wants to help Glory win their maiden A-League championship following last season’s controversial finals exit at the hands of Melbourne Victory.

On a personal note, Nagai wants goals - and lots of them.

The 22-year-old was hampered by nagging injuries at the start of last season and had a slow start as a result.

But he came good in the second half of the campaign and flourished under the tutelage of Alistair Edwards, who took over as coach when Ian Ferguson was sacked in February.

With a full pre-season behind him, Nagai is confident he can have an early impact this time around.

“Last season I came here in September, just before we started launching the season, but this time I’m here in July so I have plenty of time (to prepare),” Nagai said through a translator.

“I want to get a good start (to the season) so I will gradually push up and not hurry.”

Nagai proved particularly dangerous last season during spells on the left wing, but is equally adept at playing on the right side or as a central striker.

The former Japan under-20 international dreams of breaking into the senior national team and knows he will have to improve his scoring output to achieve the goal.

Nagai scored twice in 17 appearances for Glory last season.

“The first target is to win the championship for the club and the second target is to score goals, maybe more than 10,” Nagai said.

“I want to play as a left-sided attacker but maybe the coach will decide something different.”

Glory assistant coach Gareth Naven said the club was pleased to regain Nagai’s services after a tug-of-war with Cerezo Osaka and hoped the speedy attacker would build on last season’s performances.

“I think he showed his true potential and what he’s capable of in those last 6-8 weeks,” Naven said.

“Before that he showed glimpses of some very good play and world-class ability.

“We’re looking forward to working with him once again.”

Nagai was used as a substitute in Saturday’s 3-0 win against local amateur side Kwinana United in a pre-season friendly fixture played in front of more than 1000 fans on Saturday.

Brazilian trialist Sidnei Sciola Moraes enjoyed plenty of success down the left flank and gave Glory the lead on 16 minutes after cutting infield, outpacing the defence and sliding the ball into the far corner of the net.

Steven McGarry and Shane Smeltz scored in the second half against a spirited and well-drilled Kwinana side.

Glory meet Gosnells City in another friendly fixture next week before embarking on a pre-season tour of South Africa.

The West Australian

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