Yuya Kubo boosts World Cup chances with goal for Gent

Kyodo

Japan striker Yuya Kubo scored his 11th goal of the season Sunday in Gent’s 1-0 win over Club Brugge in the Belgian First Division A championship playoffs.

Kubo netted in the 28th minute at Jan Breydel Stadium, collecting a long pass from defender Samuel Gigot then shooting past Ethan Horvath as the United States goalkeeper moved far outside his box in an attempt to intercept.

The 24-year-old Kubo hopes his winner, which kept Gent fourth in the table and earned it entry into the Europa League third qualifying round, will help earn him a spot in Japan’s World Cup squad.

“I knew that our team had to win and I wanted to leave open the possibility of being a representative (on the Japan World Cup squad). So I was happy on various levels,” Kubo said.

While Kubo was not named in the 27-man squad for a friendly with Ghana next Wednesday at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium, Japan head coach Akira Nishino has indicated that other players could be invited to training and then be selected for the World Cup.

The Japan Football Association has chosen not to publicize its preliminary list of 35 players for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia, but is expected to name the final 23-man squad on May 31 ahead of FIFA’s June 4 deadline.