Surgery costs Morimoto Asian Cup spot

TOKYO - Catania striker Takayuki Morimoto's "surprise" knee surgery has cost him a place in Japan's 2011 Asian Cup squad.

Morimoto, 22, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee following Sunday's 1-0 win over Brescia in Serie A without informing the Japanese Football Association (JFA) or the country's Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni.

"Morimoto's surgery was as much of a surprise to me and the JFA as it was for you people," Zaccheroni told reporters on Friday. "We probably found out the same time you people did."

The former AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus coach, who has been set the task of finishing at least third in order to qualify for the 2015 edition, bemoaned the timing of Asia's premier international football tournament.

"This tournament is being held at an unusual time on the calendar," he added. "The World Cup players have not rested and some have gone through a brutal schedule this year."

The 2010 J-League season finished earlier this month after a break for the World Cup and nine of his 23-man squad are based in Europe and will miss games for their clubs.

The three-times Asian Champions have been drawn in Group B of the tournament alongside Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.