Kiyotake ready to deputize for injured Kagawa


Nuremberg midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake has vowed to plug the gap left by injured Manchester United star Shinji Kagawa when Japan take on Oman in next week’s World Cup qualifier In Muscat.

Kagawa has been ruled out of Wednesday’s Group B clash after sustaining a left knee injury in the first half of the Red Devils’ 3-2 win over Braga in the Champions League on Oct. 23.

Kiyotake, who turns 23 on Monday, helped Japan reach the last four of the London Olympics this summer and has already won the trust of senior national coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

Zaccheroni turned to Kiyotake when Kagawa pulled out of Japan’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Saitama in September an hour before kickoff with a lower back problem, and he would most likely be the first choice to start on the left side of midfield against Oman.

Speaking after arriving in Doha for Japan’s training camp on Saturday night, Kiyotake said, “Obviously it (selection) is up to the coach but if I get to play then I will give it 100 percent.”

“I will give it my all to try and help us win the match.”

Kiyotake was the first of Japan’s European-based players to join up with the squad in the Qatari capital. Standard Liege goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima also arrived on Saturday night.

CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda, Hoffenheim’s Takashi Usami, who has won his first national team call-up in over a year, and Southampton defender Maya Yoshida are set to arrive here on Sunday night.

Japan have 10 points from four games played in the final round of qualifiers, five ahead of Australia and Oman. Victory for the Blue Samurai in Muscat would put them on the brink of qualification for Brazil 2014.