TOKYO - Japan's stuttering 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign suffered a new blow after Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura joined the team's mounting injury list. A knee injury picked up in training could threaten his involvement in Japan's away clash with Qatar on November 19 and defender Yuji Nakazawa's fitness is also a concern. Nakazawa strained his groin playing for Yokohama F-Marinos on Saturday. Regular goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki will miss the game because of an ankle injury. Losing Nakamura and Nakazawa would be a major setback to Japan coach Takeshi Okada, whose side faced stinging criticism after being held 1-1 at home by Uzbekistan last month. "Narazaki's out," Okada told Sunday's Japanese media. "Nakazawa hasn't had a formal medical examination so I don't know. I'm not sure about Nakamura yet either." Nakamura was waiting on the result of an MRI scan. "I twisted my knee in a practice game," the 30-year-old told Japan's Nikkan Sports. "There's pain on the inside of the knee. I have had an MRI but I've no idea how long it will take to heal." Eintracht Frankfurt's Junichi Inamoto, one of Japan's top performers when they reached the last 16 as co-hosts of the 2002 World Cup, is set to be drafted in as cover for the Doha trip. Japan are second in Group A on four points from two games while Australia have a maximum six points. Qatar also have four points but have played one match more. The top two in the two five-team Asian groups qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Okada, who guided Japan to their first World Cup finals in 1998, has come under fire during his second spell in charge after a less than convincing qualifying campaign. The 52-year-old returned to the job last December after Bosnian Ivica Osim suffered a stroke. Japan play Syria in a warm-up in Kobe on Thursday before travelling to Doha.
9 November 2008
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