Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu includes Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma in the Asian Cup squad, despite his recent ankle injury sustained against Crystal Palace. The announcement comes as the team gears up for the tournament in Qatar, starting on January 12.

Mitoma’s availability for the initial matches remains uncertain due to his injury, but Moriyasu remains optimistic, citing assurances from both national team and club medical staff about his potential early participation in the tournament.

Japan, with a successful history in the Asian Cup with four titles, is eager to erase the disappointment of their 2019 loss to Qatar. Coach Moriyasu emphasizes that while their fundamental approach remains unchanged, the team harbors frustration from their last attempt and is determined to secure victory this time.

The squad boasts notable names like Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo, Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, and Real Sociedad’s attacking midfielder Takefusa Kubo. However, the exclusion of Kyogo Furuhashi, who recently scored against Rangers, and Lazio’s Daichi Kamada highlights the fierce competition for spots in the squad.

Moriyasu acknowledges the increased competition, with only 14 players retained from the 2022 World Cup squad, emphasizing the higher level of Japanese football. The coach remains focused on improvement, urging his players to be resolute in defense and enhance their ball-winning abilities.

Japan’s preparation included a convincing 5-0 friendly win over Thailand, showcasing a proactive attacking style. Moriyasu emphasizes the need for continued improvement, stressing the importance of defensive resilience to compete successfully in the Asian Cup.

As the tournament approaches, Japan finds themselves in Group D, set to face Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam in the opening round. The inclusion of Mitoma, along with a mix of experienced and emerging talents, reflects Japan’s commitment to overcoming past setbacks and aiming for Asian Cup glory.

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