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Injured Mitoma out of Japan World Cup qualifiers

Japan suffered a blow on the eve of World Cup qualifying with Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma ruled out with injury, the football association said on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old has scored seven goals in 18 appearances for his country and emerged as one of the most exciting attackers in the Premier League.

But coach Hajime Moriyasu must do without him when Japan begin the long road to the 2026 World Cup at home to Myanmar on Thursday, followed by Syria on Tuesday in Jeddah.

The Japan Football Association did not reveal the nature of the injury.

“Since this is a World Cup qualifier I joined the team believing in my potential to contribute,” Mitoma said in a JFA statement.

“But unfortunately, seeing as I won’t be able to play at 100 percent, I’ve decided to let my teammates play on my behalf, as much as I regret doing so.

“For now, I will work hard on recovering as soon as possible.”

Mitoma came on as a second-half substitute in Brighton’s 1-1 home draw against Sheffield United at the weekend.

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