/

Saito called up for World Cup qualifiers

Kyodo

Winger Manabu Saito of Yokohama F. Marinos was called up by Japan manager Vahid Halilhodzic on Saturday for two upcoming World Cup final qualifying matches after Mainz forward Yoshinori Muto and Augsburg’s Takashi Usami pulled out with injuries.

Japan, which fell to a shock home 2-1 defeat against the United Arab Emirates before winning 2-0 away to Thailand last month, will take on Iraq at Saitama Stadium on Thursday before traveling to face Australia on Oct. 11.

Saito, 26, has a personal-high eight goals this season after bagging two goals and assisting in two more on Saturday when Marinos hammered struggling Ventforet Kofu away.

The tricky winger was part of the 2014 World Cup squad but did not take to the field in Brazil under Alberto Zaccheroni.