• Kyodo

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National team captain Maya Yoshida aspires to make sporting history for Japan at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year, but to have a chance at that he must be selected and healthy enough to play in soccer’s showpiece event for the third straight time.

A win in the World Cup knockout stage has proven a hurdle too high so far for the Samurai Blue, who have alternated between group-stage and round-of-16 exits in the past six tournaments since their 1998 debut in France.

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