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Mitoma heads full-strength Japan squad to start World Cup qualifying

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Japan named a full-strength squad featuring Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma and Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo on Wednesday for the start of their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign against Myanmar and Syria.

The Blue Samurai, who lost on penalties to Croatia in the last 16 of last year’s World Cup in Qatar, face Myanmar in Osaka on November 16 before taking on Syria on neutral ground in Jeddah five days later.

Coach Hajime Moriyasu picked a 26-man squad packed with European experience and said most of the players could expect to see some action.

“There is a chance that we could pick up injuries in these two games so having 26 players should allow us to overcome that,” said Moriyasu, whose team have also been drawn alongside North Korea in qualifying Group B.

“I will look at what condition the players are in and potentially play one group of players in the first game and then another group in the second.”

Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, Liverpool’s Wataru Endo and Celtic pair Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda were all named in the squad.

Lazio’s Daichi Kamada returns after missing friendly wins over Canada and Tunisia in October.

Japan have been in red-hot form since the last World Cup, winning their last six games with 24 goals scored and just five conceded.

That run included convincing away wins over Turkey and Germany, whose coach Hansi Flick lost his job after Japan beat his side 4-1.

Moriyasu is keen to take that momentum into the World Cup qualifiers and wants to see his team continue improving.

“We want to take six points from these two games and we will prepare as best we can to do so,” he said.

“We want to win and we want to give a performance that will allow us to build for the future.”

Japan squad:

Goalkeepers: Daiya Maekawa (Vissel Kobe), Keisuke Osako (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Zion Suzuki (Sint-Truidense/BEL)

Defenders: Shogo Taniguchi (Al-Rayyan/QAT), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield/ENG), Koki Machida (Union SG/BEL), Seiya Maikuma (Gamba Osaka), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal/ENG), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart/GER), Yukinari Sugawara (AZ/NED)

Midfielders/forwards: Wataru Endo (Liverpool/ENG), Junya Ito (Reims/FRA), Takuma Asano (Bochum/GER), Takumi Minamino (Monaco/FRA), Kyogo Furuhashi (Celtic/SCO), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting/POR), Hayao Kawabe (Standard Liege/BEL), Daichi Kamada (Lazio/ITA), Yuki Soma (Casa Pia/POR), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton/ENG), Daizen Maeda (Celtic/SCO), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg/GER), Atsuki Ito (Urawa Reds), Ayase Ueda (Feyenoord/NED), Ao Tanaka (Dusseldorf/GER), Takefusa Kubo (Sociedad/ESP)

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