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Konno expected to miss opener

by Gus Fielding

Kyodo News

Defender Yasuyuki Konno is almost certain to miss Japan’s World Cup opener against Cameroon on June 14 after sustaining a right knee injury in Friday’s 2-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire.

Konno was the victim of a reckless challenge by Emmanuel Eboue in the second half of the World Cup warmup in Sion, Switzerland, and Japan coach Takeshi Okada said Saturday morning he expects the 27-year-old FC Tokyo utility man to be sidelined for two weeks.

“It is ligament damage so it’s doubtful he will play in the first game,” Okada told reporters before Japan left their altitude training camp in the Alpine village of Saas-Fee. “This kind of injury normally takes two weeks (to heal).”

Okada said he would monitor Konno’s progress before deciding on whether to draft in cover for the Cameroon game.

“There is still time so we’ll have a look at him over the next two or three days,” Okada said.

Konno was not the only injury casualty in Friday’s match. Cote d’Ivoire captain Didier Drogba’s participation at the World Cup was thrown into doubt after the Chelsea striker suffered a fracture to his right elbow after a high challenge from Marcus Tulio Tanaka, whose 13th-minute own goal paved the way for the Ivorians’ win.

Japan was to fly to South Africa late Saturday on a charter flight from Geneva airport.