Chelsea’s Eniola Aluko braced for tika-taka test in Japan
Chelsea star Eniola Aluko braced for the challenge of facing Japan's tika-taka sides at International Women's Club Championship
Eniola Aluko believes Chelsea Ladies’ trip to Japan for the International Women’s Club Championship will ensure the team are ready to hit the ground running when the Women’s Super League returns next summer.
Aluko and co finished seventh last season but have moved quickly to ensure they are a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 season with England international forward Rachel Williams joining Emma Hayes’ squad.
The signing of Williams will add some much-needed steel to the Chelsea side, who now possess a strike-force to rival any in the country with Aluko and world player of the year nominee Yuki Ogimi already on the books.
But before the trio take to the field domestically there is the small matter of the IWCC later this month and next with Chelsea locking horns with teams from Japan, Australia and South America in the Mobcast Cup.
And England regular Aluko, whose brother Sone plays for Hull City, can’t wait to take to the field in Japan as Chelsea Ladies represent Europe in the now annual competition.
“It will be a great test, especially against the Japanese teams. Their retention of the ball and their ability to keep the ball is impressive,” said Aluko.
“They play the game in the way it should be played, the Barca-style tiki-taka which everybody is trying to emulate. It’ll be interesting to play against those kinds of teams. Emma Hayes is a big proponent of that style of play so it’ll be interesting to match ourselves against them.
“We’ve come off the back of what was a really poor season. We didn’t reach the expectations we needed to. We lost far too many games. I think we need to really quickly put it behind us and remember what it felt like.
“The last thing you can do when you have a bad season is dwell on it. You can only change it and that’s what the coaching staff have done. They’ve recognised what we needed and what we were missing and they’ve added to it. I’m really encouraged, I’m going to use the bad experiences and turn it into good energy and do well next season.’
Aluko has been a mainstay of the England team since making her debut at the tender age of 17, while she also represented Team GB at the London Olympics last summer.
The 26-year-old recently scored in the 4-0 win in Turkey, which leaves England top of their 2015 World Cup qualifying group with four wins from four under the stewardship of caretaker boss Brent Hills.
And after a disappointing European Championships in 2013, that saw manager Hope Powell lose her job, Aluko is confident England are back on track and is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“It’s been good for the last three months to look back on wins and put the Euros behind us. It’ll be good now to hear who the new manager is going to be so we can crack on,” she added.
“It’s not really new but it’s certainly a different style. He’s a lot more relaxed, well, it’s a different person. He has a lot of focus the tempo and energy of play. He’s played some of the younger players in the games and they’ve done well
“I’ve got four in four since the Euros and six in eight for England this year. I think I’ve had a strong year, probably the strongest that I’ve had for a long time and my performances have been pretty consistent.”