Soccer

Koya Kitagawa replaces Yu Kobayashi for Samurai Blue friendlies

Kyodo

Forward Yu Kobayashi has withdrawn from the Japan squad for the upcoming friendlies against Panama and Uruguay because of an ankle injury, the Japan Football Association said Monday.

The 31-year-old Kawasaki Frontale striker left the field in the 82nd minute of Sunday’s 0-0 draw between the J-League leaders and Kashima Antlers after twisting his left ankle.

He will be replaced by Shimizu S-Pulse forward Koya Kitagawa,

Later on Monday, the JFA announced that Hannover striker Takuma Asano would be replaced by Jubilo Iwata’s Kengo Kawamata.Manager Hajime Moriyasu has recalled six veterans of last summer’s World Cup in Russia for the friendlies against Panama on Oct. 12 in Niigata and Uruguay in Saitama four days later.

They include Galatasaray left-back Yuto Nagatomo, Marseille right-back Hiroki Sakai and Werder Bremen striker Yuya Osako.

With a squad largely comprised of J-League players, Olympic head coach and World Cup assistant Moriyasu managed Japan to an impressive 3-0 win over Costa Rica in his first game leading the Samurai Blue on Sept. 11.