• Kyodo


Japan’s World Cup qualifying win over the host United Arab Emirates cost it a couple of injuries as midfielder Yasuyuki Konno and forward Yuya Osako headed to the hospital after touching down at Narita airport in Chiba Prefecture on Friday.

Konno, who scored the second goal in Thursday’s 2-0 victory in Al Ain, suffered a bruised left toe, the Japan Football Association said. Osako’s injury appears to be more serious, the Cologne striker having bruised his left leg from the knee on down.

Citing fatigue, Japan canceled Friday’s training session in Saitama, where Vahid Halilhodzic’s men on Tuesday host Thailand, the last-place side in Group B. Konno and Osako were being examined at a hospital in Chiba, and their availability for the Thailand game was not immediately known.

The two were instrumental in the win against UAE, a measure of payback for losing to the Emiratis at home in September to start the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Thursday’s three points kept Japan level on points (13) with Group B leader Saudi Arabia with four games left in the final qualifiers. Japan is three points up on Australia, four on UAE.

Konno, known to have a high tolerance for pain, admitted to hurting after the UAE game, in which he scored his third international goal in his 88th appearance.

“I hope it’s OK. I’m praying that it is,” said the Gamba Osaka man, who has been recalled to the national team for the first time in two years for these qualifiers.

“Before the game, I was worried about being here, I really was. Because I was basically thrown into a group of players who I’ve never played with before. I didn’t know Halilhodzic’s style so it was very difficult.

“But the important thing was to take three points from this game, regardless of the performance. We were able to do that so I couldn’t be happier.”

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