• AFP-Jiji, Kyodo


Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu warned his players to get on the same page straight away after naming his squad for World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Australia on Tuesday.

Japan travels to Jeddah to face the Saudis on Oct. 8 before taking on Australia in Saitama four days later, having gotten off to a mixed start in their Group B campaign.

Moriyasu’s side slumped to a shock 1-0 opening home defeat to Oman earlier this month, before beating China 1-0 in an away match played in Doha because of the pandemic.

Moriyasu blamed the Oman loss on his players’ inability to adapt quickly to his team after spending time with their club sides.

“We don’t have much time, but the players need to switch from what they do with their clubs and get their heads around our team concept,” the manager said.

“We didn’t do that last time and we have to make sure we sort that out.”

Moriyasu named a 25-man squad featuring only five J. League players, with star midfielders Takefusa Kubo of Spanish side Real Mallorca and Celtic standout Kyogo Furuhashi missing through injury.

New Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, who has impressed since joining the Gunners from Bologna in the summer, was included alongside Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino. Genk midfielder Junya Ito, suspended for the Saudi Arabia game after picking up yellow cards against Oman and China, will train with the squad and be eligible to face the Socceroos.

Both Saudi Arabia and Australia have taken maximum points from their opening two games in Group B, and Moriyasu is wary of facing the Saudis in the heat of Jeddah.

“Europe and Japan are quite cool at the moment, so it will be difficult playing in hot conditions in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We have to think about how to play in that heat.

“They are very offensive teams and play aggressively, so we’ll do our best to get the maximum points.”

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