Matsumoto begins journey back home today

BY ELTON LONARATHA JNR

JAPANESE forward and defender Kohei Matsumoto begins his journey back home today after a notable stint with the Telekom Super League (TSL) champions, Solomon Warriors FC. His time with the club included participation in the TSL 2024 season and the recent Oceania Champions League (OCL24) in Tahiti.

Matsumoto joined Solomon Warriors FC in March, testing the intensity of the country’s top-flight football league in preparation for the OCL last month. The former Hamilton Wanderers FC defender is well-versed in Pacific football, having played for various clubs in the region.

Speaking to SunSPORTS on Saturday, Matsumoto confirmed his departure and expressed a strong interest in returning to Solomon Warriors FC next year. “Before joining Solomon Warriors FC, I played for clubs in New Zealand, Fiji, Vanuatu, and New Caledonia. I joined Solomon Warriors FC for the OCL, which was a disappointing campaign for me and the team. However, I hope to return next year for the OCL 2025,” he said.

Matsumoto praised Solomon Warriors FC for their technical and individual abilities. “The team is good both technically and individually. We were unlucky in the OCL, but with better luck, we could have achieved good results. I believe the experience gained will help the team perform better in the next OCL if they win the TSL this season,” he added.

Despite the challenges, Matsumoto remains optimistic about his future. “Going back to Japan offers many choices. I might continue playing in the Japanese League or move to New Zealand when the transfer window opens. I would love to return to Solomon Warriors FC next year because I enjoy the football style in the Solomon Islands. It’s tough and competitive, and other players would benefit from experiencing it,” he stated.

During his stint in the TSL 2024, Matsumoto made significant contributions with several assists and goals, playing a total of five games. Although the team faced defeats and an early exit in the OCL in Tahiti, Matsumoto’s final appearance saw Solomon Warriors FC secure a 9-1 victory over FC Juniper Tree, propelling them to the top of the table.

Matsumoto’s football journey is extensive. Before joining Solomon Warriors FC, he played in the Japanese Professional League and had a short stint with Hamilton Wanderers FC in New Zealand. He also played for Ventforet Kofu FC and Catale Toyama FC in Japan.

His experience in Pacific football is vast, having played for clubs in Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand. He featured in the 2017 OFC Champions League with Rewa FC and played for Hawke’s Bay and Auckland City in New Zealand. Matsumoto also represented Hienghène Sport in the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup and played for Malampa Revivors FC in the 2019 OFC Champions League alongside fellow Japanese player Yuki Otsuka. His latest Pacific adventure included a stint with PNG Club Lae City FC in the 2022 OFC Champions League.

Matsumoto, originally from Osaka, Japan, has also played in important leagues in Japan and had a brief period with Brisbane Roar in Australia’s Hyundai A-League.

As Matsumoto departs from Honiara to Brisbane this afternoon, he leaves behind a legacy of resilience and dedication. His contributions to Solomon Warriors FC and his eagerness to return next year highlight his commitment to the sport and the teams he plays for.

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