Urawa Reds suffered a blow on Tuesday ahead of their debut in the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup in Japan after influential midfielder Robson Ponte was ruled out for six months with a knee injury. Ponte damaged ligaments in his right knee during Urawa’s disastrous 1-0 defeat to relegated Yokohama FC on the last day of the J. League season on Saturday and tests revealed he will need six months to fully recover. The 31-year-old former Bayer Leverkusen man will return to his native Brazil on Wednesday to undergo surgery. Ponte scored seven times in 33 league appearances for the Reds this year and also played a pivotal role in helping Urawa win the Asian Champions League. Urawa were in position to retain their J. League title but the shock defeat at Yokohama coupled with a 3-0 win for Kashima Antlers over Shimizu S-Pulse saw Kashima take the championship honors. Urawa face the winner of Friday’s opening Club World Cup game between Iran’s Sepahan and New Zealand’s Waitakere United in their quarterfinal match at Toyota Stadium on Monday. The Club World Cup runs through Dec. 16.
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