• Kyodo


Japan forward Musashi Suzuki and defender Ken Matsubara were battling to be fit on Wednesday for their Asian Under-23 Championship quarterfinal clash with Iran on Friday.

The 21-year-old Suzuki, born to a Jamaican father and a Japanese mother, played the whole game against North Korea and opened the scoring in the second group-stage game against Thailand in a 4-0 win but came off at the break. A checkup revealed he was suffering from inflammation in his right leg.

“It (the pain) is gone to a good degree,” said the Albirex Niigata man, who was on a separate training menu from his teammates.

Niigata defender Matsubara came off midway through the second half against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday feeling pain to the same area of his right knee that was operated on in April,

“I’m an outsider. I think (the manager) will use a steady player rather than a tottering one who can’t complete the full 90 minutes,” said Matsubara, who had been rehabbing to be fit for this tournament.

Top three teams at the tournament will punch their tickets to the Olympics this summer in Rio de Janeiro.

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