Hasegawa interview published on “GOAL”

Hasegawa: I have to repay Cerezo fans

The 25-year-old is determined to prove his worth and repay the club's supporters for the faith shown in the team

Aria Jasuru Hasegawa is under the spotlight given the departure to Basel of star turn Yoichiro Kakitani and the dismissal in May of head coach Ranko Popovic, the man who signed the midfielder from FC Tokyo.

Up until the World Cup break, Hasegawa started for Cerezo in all but one of their 21 matches and was called up for a Japan pre­-World Cup training camp. He failed to make the final cut, however, and the first part of the season ultimately proved difficult for him, with Popovic's sacking.

"It's not [Popovic's] fault that the team didn't get results," Hasegawa told Goal. 

"If my team­-mates and I played better, we wouldn't be in this situation. I'm sorry for the many supporters who've come to see us, home and away, to whom we couldn't deliver wins.

"But that's part of the game, so we have to understand our situation and get off to a good start after the break."

Hasegawa understands that the pressure is on him to perform. 

"Popovic used me on the pitch at Tokyo, and we ended up coming to Cerezo together," he said. "He's gone now and whatever others might be thinking, I'm still looking up and doing what I have to do.

"I came to Cerezo to grow and challenge myself in a stimulating environment, and I haven't forgotten that."

Hasegawa will need to step up in order to help Cerezo, currently in 14th place, advance in the standings.
"Looking back on the season so far, I wasn't able to demonstrate my ability," he said. "I want to prove that I've left everything on the pitch and contributed all I can to the team.

"We've changed managers and we'll play a different style of football, so everyone trained [during the break] in order to understand that. Cerezo needs results right now. If we can win two or three in a row, we'll rise in the standings."

Hasegawa, whose father is Iranian, paid attention to both Samurai Blue and Iran at this summer's World Cup. After participating in his second ACL tournament, he's also taken note of South­ East Asia's rapid ascent.

"We played in Thailand this year, and it's clear that the level of play is rising across Asia and not just in Japan," the 25­-year­-old said. "The continent as a whole has a lot of potential to keep improving, and we have to keep up with everyone."

He has also noticed the recent increase in Cerezo support from abroad, a result of the club's ambitious international media strategy. 

"I'm grateful for the support we've had from Japanese people and fans living overseas," Hasegawa said.

"It's something to be proud of. But in order to make Cerezo an Asian club and a global club, we have to keep aiming higher. We'll repay fans for their support by winning on the pitch."