Tokyo: Japan captain Makoto Hasebe will miss his country’s upcoming FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers against the United Arab Emirates and Thailand after failing to recover from a knee injury.
The midfielder suffered the damage during Eintracht Frankfurt’s Bundesliga defeat to Bayern Munich last weekend and is now set to undergo an operation, ruling him out of the two key clashes.
Japan, who are currently second in Group B, face the UAE in Al Ain on March 23 and Southeast Asian powerhouse Thailand in Saitama five days later.
Samurai Blue head coach Vahid Halihodzic had initially included Hasebe in his squad, saying: "He [Hasebe] is a very strong captain for us. Having a team without him in it is unthinkable."
Hasebe has won 104 caps for Japan and played at both the 2010 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals.