TOKYO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Japan’s ‘new start’ under coach Javier Aguirre will get underway without captain Makoto Hasebe after he pulled out of the squad for Friday’s friendly against Uruguay due to a knee injury.
The Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder said he felt pain in his left knee, the same one he had surgery on five years ago, in a league match at the weekend and had decided to return to Germany after speaking to new coach Aguirre.
Japan will also play a friendly against Venezuela on Tuesday as Aguirre, who took over from Alberto Zaccheroni in July, looks to build his side ahead of the Asian Cup in Australia next year.
“It’s really disappointing but I am not in the right condition to play properly,” Kyodo News agency quoted Hasebe as saying. “This a new coach and a new start but I have to withdraw from the team and I told him I felt sorry about that.”
Hasebe arrived in Brazil for the World Cup struggling for fitness and was substituted in Japan’s opening two group games. The ‘Blue Samurai’ finished bottom of their group after earning just a point from their three games against Greece, Colombia and Ivory Coast.
The 55-year-old Aguirre, who coached Mexico at the 2002 and 2010 World Cups, was named coach in July.
Writing by Peter Rutherford in Seoul; Editing by Patrick Johnston