AFC Asian Cup: Shinji Kagawa omitted from Japan squad

Japan Coach Hajime Moriyasu selected several players with only a handful of caps to their names for teh AFC Asian Cup 2019 in the United Arab Emirates starting in January.

Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa has been left of Japan's squad for the AFC Asian Cup 2019.   -  Getty Images

Former Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa was left out of Japan's squad in the Blue Samurai's bid to reclaim the AFC Asian Cup, opting instead for a squad filled with young talents.

Coach Hajime Moriyasu on Wednesday selected several players with only a handful of caps to their names for Asia's showcase football tournament in the United Arab Emirates starting in January. The likes of Ritsu Doan of Groningen, Shoya Nakajima of Portimonense and Takumi Minamino of Salzburg will lead Japan's bid for a fifth Asian Cup title.

But there was no place for midfielder Kagawa, 29, now struggling for playing time at Borussia Dortmund.

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Kagawa has long been among the leading stars of Blue Samurai, but the attacking player has found it hard to get regular first-team football under Dortmund coach Lucien Favre. He told Japanese media last month that he wished to move to Spain to take on a new challenge.

Moriyasu suggested he had been tempted to turn to veterans like Kagawa, but said he needed to pick players in their best form.

“Of course, I wanted help from experienced players, those who went to the Russian World Cup and those who have led Japan for years,” Moriyasu told a press conference.

“Many of the players whom we selected at this time have only limited experiences. I have chosen them with hopes that they would take the ownership of the team and build the national team themselves and fight for the title,” he said.

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However, the young squad will be supported by Werder Bremen striker Yuya Osako and Galatasaray defender Yuto Nagatomo, both veterans of past World Cups.

Japan won the Asian Cup in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011, but went out to UAE in the quarterfinals of the last edition in 2015, which was won by Australia.


Full Japan squad:

Goalkeepers: Daniel Schmidt (Vegalta Sendai), Shuichi Gonda (Sagan Tosu), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka).


Defenders: Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Sho Sasaki (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Genta Miura (Gamba Osaka), Sei Muroya (FC Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Takahiro Tomiyasu (Sint-Truiden), Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray).


Midfielders: Wataru Endo (Sint-Truiden), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shoya Nakajima (Portimonense), Takumi Minamino (Salzburg), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Hidemasa Morita (Kawasaki Frontale), Ritsu Doan (Groningen), Genki Haraguchi (Hannover), Junya Ito (Kashiwa Reysol).


Forwards: Takuma Asano (Hannover), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Koya Kitagawa (Shimizu S-Pulse).


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