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Moriyasu mulls Kubo recall for Copa decider

Monday, June 24, 2019
Takefusa Kubo-Japan-AFP

Belo Horizonte: Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu is considering recalling teenage star Takefusa Kubo for Monday's must-win Copa America clash with Ecuador.

Kubo played in Japan's 4-0 defeat by Chile in their Group C opener in Brazil before coming off the bench in Thursday's 2-2 draw with Uruguay.

The 18-year-old, nicknamed the "Japanese Messi" and who was signed by Real Madrid just before the tournament began, had only made one appearance for the national team before that, in a pre-tournament friendly last month.

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"Our aim is to reach the quarter-finals and we're going to decide whether or not we start (Kubo) based on the training session we're about to have," said Moriyasu.

"He has the ability, as you've seen, to play from the start."

Moriyasu, who has brought a mostly under-23 squad to Brazil, gave seven players their debut against Chile.

He recalled a number of experienced campaigners, including Leicester City veteran Shinji Okazaki, for the Uruguay match, but still gave another two players a first cap.

Japan have a simple equation ahead of them for their final Group C encounter: win or go home.

Ecuador are in the exact same boat, while a draw between the teams will knock them both out and see Paraguay qualify as one of the two best third-placed sides along with Peru.

"When we arrived in Brazil we wanted to get a point, a goal in the Copa America," said Moriyasu.

"Now we have those and we want a win... We're going to play to win."


CONMEBOL #コパアメリカ ブラジル2019
グループリーグ第3戦 vsエクアドル日本時間 6/25(火) 8時キックオフ#daihyo #SAMURAIBLUE #CopaAmerica

— サッカー日本代表 (@jfa_samuraiblue) June 23, 2019

This is Japan's second Copa America participation as invitees.

The first time, in Paraguay in 1999, they lost 3-2 to Peru and 4-0 to the hosts before ending with a 1-1 draw against Bolivia.

They are participating alongside fellow Asians Qatar, whose campaign ended after falling 2-0 to Argentina on Sunday.

Source: AFP

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