Cologne - The AFC Asian Cup kicks off on 9 January and the Bundesliga is well represented in the biggest football tournament in the orient.

One of the players looking for glory with his country is Hannover 96's Hiroshi Kiyotake, who will be trading red for blue as he dons the shirt of his country Japan in Australia.

Settled in Hanover


"It's an honour and a privilege to have been selected," Kiyotake told hannover96.com. "We're motivated to succeed, we've prepared well and we aim to be better and more successful than we were at the World Cup in Brazil. The early elimination hurt us."

Disappointment at falling at the first hurdle for his country in South America was soon brushed aside, however, with Kiyotake demonstrating the type of qualities that convinced Hannover to sign him from relegated 1. FC Nürnberg last summer. "I am grateful for everything - the club and the supporters have made the transition easy for me," he said.

Ambition


It was a transition that Kiyotake regards as a positive progression of his career in Germany, having become an established name in his two years in Bavaria. "I'm an ambitious guy and always want to achieve more," he said. "I'm happy in Hannover. We have a lot of quality in the team."

The Reds enter the second half of the season just three points behind the top six and a potential return to Europe after a two-season absence. According to Kiyotake, they could have been in an even better position at the turn of the year. "Picking up a few more points would have been nice as it would have meant we'd be higher up the table," he admitted. "That must be our target for the rest of the season."

High hopes


While the 25-year-old's first objective of 2015 will be success with his country, he hopes to help the Lower Saxony club push for a place in continental competition. Another 24 points, on top of the 24 they already have, would put die Roten "in with a shout" of a UEFA Europa League berth, according to head coach Tayfun Korkut.

"The team really look motivated now they're back on the field again," said the Reds' tactician after his side's first training session of 2015. If Korkut's charges can transform that into a similar start to the one they made in August, when they picked up seven points from their first three Bundesliga outings, then Kiyotake has a lot to look forward to on his return from the Asian Cup.