24 May 2024, 13:30

Japan drop goalkeeper Suzuki for World Cup qualifiers

TOKYO, May 24, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Goalkeeper Zion Suzuki was dropped from
Japan's squad Friday as coach Hajime Moriyasu made his selections for next
month's World Cup qualifiers against Myanmar and Syria.

The inexperienced Suzuki was Moriyasu's first-choice goalkeeper at the Asian
Cup in Qatar this year but he made a series of errors before Japan went out
in the quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old, whose father is Ghanaian and mother Japanese, was also
racially abused online at the tournament.

Japan have already booked their place in the next round of World Cup
qualifiers, going through without kicking a ball in March when FIFA said
their away game against North Korea would not be rescheduled.

North Korea were supposed to stage the game in the capital Pyongyang but,
five days before the game, officials abruptly said the isolated country could
not play host, without giving a reason.

Liverpool's Wataru Endo and Real Sociedad's Takefusa Kubo were among 26
players named by Moriyasu to face Myanmar in Yangon on June 6 and Syria in
Hiroshima five days later.

"In these two games, I'd like to try out some new players and systems and
really bed in the tactics heading into the final round of qualifiers," said

Moriyasu also omitted winger Junya Ito, who left the Asian Cup after Japanese
police said he was under investigation over an alleged sexual assault in
Osaka last year.

Ito denies the allegation and is suing his accusers for 200 million yen ($1.3
million) in damages.

Moriyasu also left Ito out of his squad for World Cup qualifiers in March,
saying he wanted to "protect" the player.

Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma, who has not played for his club since February
through injury, was also absent.

Moriyasu handed a first call-up to striker Yuito Suzuki, who plays for Danish
side Brondby.

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