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Arsenal Ladies boss excited by signings of Japan duo

13:09 03 March 2014

Manager Shelley Kerr, Arsenal Ladies

Manager Shelley Kerr, Arsenal Ladies

EMPICS Sport

Manager Shelley Kerr is confident that the club’s two Japanese signings will blend in quickly as a much-changed Arsenal squad prepare for the new campaign.

Defender Yukari Kinga and forward Shinobu Ohno, both members of the Japan side that won the World Cup in 2011, have joined a Gunners team in transition following a spate of departures during the close season.

While that double signing sends out a statement of intent to the club’s rivals, Kerr insists that the attitude displayed by both Kinga and Ohno was far more significant in the decision to bring them to London.

“You have to move on,” said the Gunners boss. “Players leave clubs all the time in football but what was important for us was to bring the right type of players to Arsenal.

“It’s not just their talent, it’s the way they are as people – they’re very humble. You wouldn’t actually believe that they’ve won the World Cup, the way they are.

“They’re very respectful and when they play, they’re disciplined, which is important. It’s not just a case of bringing any player to the club – they need to have the right attitude and character.

“Both players have those qualities in abundance. Already in the time they’ve been here, both players have taken part in a couple of training games and shown their class.

“They’ve mixed well with the players that are already here, so I’ve no qualms about them settling – that won’t be a problem. We’re thoroughly delighted to have them at the club.”

Kinga, 29, has moved from Japanese champions INAC Kobe, while 30-year-old Ohno left Lyon – where she won the Women’s Champions League twice – to sign for the Gunners.

As well as winning the World Cup, the pair were also silver medallists at the London 2012 Olympics and will bring experience to an Arsenal squad shorn of several key players.

England quartet Steph Houghton, Ellen White, Gemma Davison and Gilly Flaherty have all signed for rival Super League clubs, with PFA Player of the Year Kim Little crossing the Atlantic to join Seattle Reign.

To balance that exodus, the Gunners have re-signed England captain Casey Stoney, as well as adding Dutch defender Anouk Hoogendijk, Bristol Academy goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain and Scottish midfielder Christie Murray to their ranks.

The new-look squad face their first test later this month, when they take on Women’s Super League rivals Birmingham City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

“We wanted to bring them [the Japanese duo] to the club to continue the success that we’ve had and the Champions League is a stage where the most talented players perform,” Kerr added.

“They’re used to that, so I think they’ll be instrumental in our Champions League campaign. Both have vast experience and I think they’ll have a major impact, not just on our own players, but the league in general.”

The Gunners travel to Birmingham for the first leg on Monday March 24, with the return game at The Hive, Barnet, the following Sunday.

Their league programme gets under way on Wednesday April 16, with a trip to Notts County (formerly known as Lincoln City).

Speaking through an interpreter, Ohno stated that she was excited by the prospect of playing alongside legendary figures in the women’s game such as Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey.

Kinga added: “As a Japanese player, to be wearing the Arsenal uniform is the biggest thing ever.”

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