The Japan Football Association announced on Wednesday that the national team suffered a major blow ahead of Asian qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup after its star Kaoru Mitoma was sidelined with injury.
Mituma (26) has scored seven goals in 18 caps for his country and has emerged as one of the Premier League’s top strikers this season with his side Brighton.
Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu will miss the Brighton star’s efforts when Japan host Myanmar at home tomorrow, Thursday, and then Syria next Tuesday in Jeddah in a second group of 2026 World Cup qualifiers that also includes North Korea.
“Since this is a World Cup qualifier, I joined the team believing in my ability to contribute,” Mitoma said in a statement to the Japanese federation.
He continued: “But unfortunately, since I won’t be able to play at 100 percent, I decided to let my teammates play for me, which I really regret.”
“For now, I will work hard to recover as quickly as possible,” he added.
Maitoma came on as an early second-half substitute in Brighton’s last match of round 12 of the English Premier League, which drew 1–1 at home to Sheffield United.