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Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima believes he has repaid his manager’s faith after returning from the international wilderness to steer Japan closer to a sixth straight World Cup appearance with two clean sheets in two qualifying wins.

Two-time World Cup veteran Kawashima lost his place in Japan’s starting lineup to Urawa Reds’ Shusaku Nishikawa in the summer of 2015 after finding himself without a club for several months, and went on to appear only once for his country until manager Vahid Halilhodzic handed him a shock recall for last Thursday’s World Cup qualifier away to the United Arab Emirates.

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