Soccer / World Cup

Japan's Gotoku Sakai retires from international duty


Defender Gotoku Sakai has become the third Japanese player to retire from international duty on the heels of the squad’s heartbreaking World Cup exit following a last-gasp defeat to Belgium.

“I have always tried to support the team, but I couldn’t return the trust with performances,” the 27-year-old Sakai, who plays for second-division German club Hamburg, told Friday’s edition of newspaper Bild.

At the World Cup finals in Russia, Sakai, who made 42 appearances for Japan in six years, only featured in the 1-0 defeat to Poland in the group stage.