Japan name World Cup squad to put 'Tragedy of Doha' behind them

Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said revenge was not on his mind as he named his squad Tuesday for the World Cup in Qatar -- the scene of his country's biggest football heartbreak.

Former Barcelona youth star Takefusa Kubo and Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma were among the 26 players named as Japan prepare to take on Germany, Spain and Costa Rica in a tough Group E.

Japan have appeared at the past six World Cups but they were denied a debut at the 1994 edition in the United States by a last-minute Iraq goal in their final qualifier in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The match has become known in Japan as the "Tragedy of Doha" but Moriyasu -- who played in the game -- said his team were ready to lay the ghost to rest this month.

"Doha was the place where our World Cup dreams failed to come true and it's a place of frustration and sadness for me, but I'm not thinking about revenge," he said after announcing his squad in Tokyo.

"We've got a great group of players and supporters and I'm looking forward to taking them to the World Cup in Qatar.

"My experience was a sad one but I want to use the time we have left to make sure we turn the Doha tragedy into Doha joy."

Former Southampton defender Maya Yoshida will captain the side in his third World Cup, while left-back Yuto Nagatomo and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima have been named in their fourth finals squads.

Eintracht Frankfurt attacker Daichi Kamada and Monaco's Takumi Minamino have also been included in a squad that contains just six domestic-based players.

Striker Yuya Osako missed out after appearing at the previous two World Cups, while Celtic pair Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate were also omitted.

Kou Itakura was picked despite the defender not having played for Borussia Monchengladbach since he suffered a knee injury in September.

- Quarter-final target -

Moriyasu said Japan were aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, after being eliminated in the round of 16 three times.

"It's not an easy target but if our supporters are all behind us, I'm sure we can achieve it," he said.

Moriyasu will look to Real Sociedad forward Kubo and Brighton winger Mitoma to provide the spark against Japan's opponents in Qatar.

Kubo, 21, was invited to join Barcelona's La Masia academy at the age of nine and was known as the "Japanese Messi" early on in his precocious career.

He joined Sociedad at the start of this season on a permanent deal after being loaned out several times during three years with Real Madrid, and has already won 19 caps for Japan.

Mitoma joined Brighton this summer after a year on loan at Belgium's Union SG and recovered from an injury scare to make Japan's squad.

"I looked at what the players had done up to this point, what condition they were in and what would be best for us overall at the World Cup," Moriyasu said.

"I've picked players who can connect and work together, who will play with organisation."

Japan start their World Cup campaign against Germany on November 23 before taking on Costa Rica on November 27 and Spain on December 1.

Japan squad:

Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg/FRA), Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truiden/BEL)

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Schalke/GER), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal/ENG), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Reds), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield Town/ENG), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Kou Itakura (Borussia Moenchengladbach/GER), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart/GER)

Midfielders: Wataru Endo (Stuttgart/GER), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting/POR), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf/GER), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Junya Ito (Reims/FRA), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton/ENG), Takumi Minamino (Monaco/FRA), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes/ESP), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad/ESP), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg/GER)

Forwards: Daizen Maeda (Celtic/SCO), Takuma Asano (Bochum/GER), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge/BEL)

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