Teen Zikos gets stint in Japan

Left: After scoring against Albirex to give Geylang three points last week, Zikos Chua is the youngest player to reach the five-goal mark in local league history at 17 years and 102 days. Below: (From left) Geylang International vice-chairman Thomas
After scoring against Albirex to give Geylang three points last week, Zikos Chua is the youngest player to reach the five-goal mark in local league history at 17 years and 102 days. PHOTO: SINGAPORE PREMIER LEAGUE
Left: After scoring against Albirex to give Geylang three points last week, Zikos Chua is the youngest player to reach the five-goal mark in local league history at 17 years and 102 days. Below: (From left) Geylang International vice-chairman Thomas
(From left) Geylang International vice-chairman Thomas Gay, Epson Singapore regional director Alvin Tan, ActiveSG Football Academy principal Aleksandar Duric, Matsumoto Yamaga president Fumiyuki Kanda and general manager Yoshiyuki Kato, and Geylang chairman Ben Teng at the launch of the Epson Youth Challenge 2019 at Our Tampines Hub.PHOTO COURTESY OF GEYLANG INTERNATIONAL

Geylang striker, who has scored five times this season, excited about return to Yamaga

Since his first Singapore Premier League goal in April's 1-0 win over Young Lions, Geylang International striker Vasileios Zikos Chua, 17, has shown he is no flash in the pan - adding four to his tally, including two match-winners.

His latest effort in the 1-0 win over three-time defending champions Albirex Niigata last Friday takes him level with more established names like Sahil Suhaimi and Hafiz Nor as the third highest-scoring local player.

More crucially, it may prove to be a milestone in his fledgling career, having been invited for a training stint with J1 League club Matsumoto Yamaga after catching the eye of their president Fumiyuki Kanda and general manager Yoshiyuki Kato. Details of the stint have not been finalised.

The officials, who were in town to launch the Epson Youth Challenge 2019, saw the Eagles in action at Our Tampines Hub and were impressed with the teenager.

Zikos said: "I'm looking forward to training in Yamaga again, having been there in 2016. I remember being very impressed by the facilities and the fans. The standard in Japan is high and it is a level I aspire to reach.

"I'm grateful for this opportunity and thankful for my coaches and senior teammates who have been so willing to help and place their trust in a 17-year-old like me."

Geylang coach Noor Ali, who coached him at Tanjong Katong Secondary School for four years and had spent 10 months in Yamaga taking their Under-18 B team to the league title, added: "He will have coaches who can help him in certain aspects of his game, such as making better use of his physique and becoming physically stronger and more imposing."

In 2016, Geylang and Yamaga signed a memorandum of understanding and have sent players, such as Gabriel Quak and Shawal Anuar, to Matsumoto for attachments. Last year, Anders Aplin was on loan for the second part of their victorious J2 League campaign.

GREAT EXPERIENCE

I remember being very impressed by the facilities and the fans. The standard in Japan is high and it is a level I aspire to reach.

VASILEIOS ZIKOS CHUA, who has fond memories from his 2016 trip.

Other tie-ups include the fourth edition of Sunday's Epson Youth Challenge, which is held in conjunction with Get Active! Singapore's Pesta Sukan.

Kanda thanked partners such as Epson Singapore, Active SG, the Football Association of Singapore and Geylang.

He said: "It is nice to see many children enjoying themselves.

"Using the community space at Our Tampines Hub, the atmosphere at the stadium was great and we hope to be able to emulate this in Japan."

Epson Singapore regional director Alvin Tan added: "The Youth Challenge has established itself as a good platform to bring stakeholders together in various capacities as we contribute towards the bigger picture for sustainable development growth of local sports."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Teen Zikos gets stint in Japan'. Print Edition | Subscribe