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Kyoto Sanga’s Peter Utaka Named J.League’s April MVP

The Nigerian forward, who had four goals in the season’s third month, is tied for the league lead in goals.

Kyoto Sanga's Peter Utaka shoots in an away match against Kashiwa Reysol on April 17. (ⒸSANKEI)

Peter Utaka played a pivotal role in Kyoto Sanga’s successful showing in April.

The Nigerian-born forward scored four goals last month in the J.League’s first division. He earned the J1 MVP award for April, it was announced on Tuesday, May 17.

Utaka is currently tied with the Kashima Antlers’ Ayase Ueda for the league lead in goals (eight). The 38-year-old Utaka has played in 13 league matches since the season began in February.

On April 6, Utaka scored Kyoto’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw with Kansai rival Gamba Osaka.

On April 10, he bagged a brace in a 3-1 home win over Sagan Tosu.

On April 17, he found the net again with a goal against Kashiwa Reysol in a 2-0 Sanga triumph.

“I’m really honored to receive such an award this time,” Utaka said in a statement posted on Kyoto Sanga’s website. “I couldn’t win this award by myself. Coaching staff, teammates, fan supporters, and most of all, my wife [supported me].”

Despite reaching an age when many athletes retire, Utaka insisted that “age is just a number.”

He added, “What I can do I would like to attract you to that, so I look forward to your continued support. “

Utaka has played in Japan since joining the Shimizu S-Pulse for the 2015-16 season. He joined Kyoto Sanga, his sixth J.League club, in 2020.

Before his move to Kyoto, he was a prolific scorer for J2’s Ventforet Kofu in 2019. In 40 league matches, he scored 22 times.


The veteran attacker has also suited up for Sanfrecce Hiroshima, FC Tokyo and Tokushima Vortis over the past several years.

His career began with Belgian club Maasmechelen in 2003.

Through games as of Wednesday, May 18, Kyoto sat in ninth place in the 18-team J1 standings with nine points (four wins, five draws, four defeats). 

Sanga earned promotion to the top flight after finishing second in J2 last season.

Vegalta Sendai’s Ryoma Kida was named J2’s April MVP. He had three goals and an assist in five matches, helping Vegalta win four times.

Matsumoto Yamaga’s Ayumu Yokoyama also scored four April goals and received J3’s April MVP honors.


Author: Ed Odeven

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Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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