26 Jan 2022, 14:08

Japan can overcome injuries in World Cup qualifiers: Minamino

   TOKYO, Jan 26, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Japan can overcome losing half

their defence to injury and take a big step towards World Cup
qualification this week, their Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino
said Wednesday.

    Captain Maya Yoshida and Arsenal full-back Takehiro Tomiyasu
have both been ruled out of Japan's crunch home qualifiers against
China on Thursday and Saudi Arabia on February 1.

    But Minamino insisted the four-time Asian champions have
enough quality in reserve to get the job done and move closer to a
seventh straight World Cup appearance in Qatar.

    "For sure, not having our captain can be a negative, but it's
in times like this that the team comes together," said Minamino.

    "It's a team sport so we just have to get over it. We're not
paying too much attention to that and we have a lot of other good

    Yoshida was injured playing for Italian club side Sampdoria
earlier this month, while Tomiyasu pulled out of the squad on

    Japan have recovered from a rocky start to climb into second
place in Group B, one point ahead of third-place Australia and
four behind leaders Saudi Arabia.

    Hajime Moriyasu's side head into their game against China on
the back of three straight wins, and the manager is confident they
can cope.

    "Maya and Tomi have contributed a lot and it's a big loss not
to have them here, but it will hurt them more than anyone," he

    "New players will come in to replace them and we will have to
get used to a new combination. But I want all the players to come
together and show their strengths as they do with their clubs and
play with confidence."

    China are currently in fifth place in the group, seven points
adrift of Japan in the second automatic qualification spot.



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