Abe relishing Asian challenge at Reds

January 26, 2007

TOKYO, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Japan's Yuki Abe said on Friday that he was relishing the challenge of facing Asia's top sides following his record move to J-League champions Urawa Reds.

The 25-year-old midfielder joined last season's Japanese double winners for around £1.5million - the highest transfer fee ever paid for a Japanese player in a domestic deal.

'I came here for the challenge and playing in the Asian Champions League was a big part,' Abe told reporters flanked by new Reds coach Holger Osieck.

'I'm starting from zero here like in my first season as a professional but I'm determined to make my mark.'

Abe's move from JEF United Chiba was the biggest pre-season deal in Japan and will strengthen Reds still further following a dream final season under German Guido Buchwald.

The Reds completed the domestic double by winning the season-ending Emperor's Cup final on New Year's Day in Buchwald's last game.

Osieck returned to Urawa for a second spell to replace his compatriot as coach after briefly managing Japan's best-supported club in the mid-1990s.