New Arsenal signing Tomiyasu ready to help beleaguered Japan

New Arsenal signing Takehiro Tomiyasu has vowed to step up for Japan as the defender joined the team in Qatar ahead of their crucial game against China in the 2022 World Cup final Asian qualifiers.

The 22-year-old completed his move from Bologna on Tuesday, the final day of the transfer window, and missed Japan’s shock opening home defeat to Oman in Osaka on Thursday in Group B.

“I’ll be seen as an Arsenal player. I mustn’t forget the pride that comes with that and put in a proper performance,” said Tomiyasu, who was also courted this summer by London rivals Tottenham.

“(The English Premier League) was the stage I was aiming for. There was no hesitation in my decision.”

The Japan Football Association on Saturday said Liverpool attacker Takumi Minamino, who had a left thigh complaint and remained on the bench against Oman, is leaving the squad with an unspecified injury.

Hiroki Sakai, who returned to the J-League with Urawa Reds over the summer from Marseille, also pulled out of Hajime Moriyasu’s squad after the opener with the JFA concerned over his heavy workload that included the Tokyo Olympics.

Hoped to galvanize the dejected side after joining up late alongside Santa Clara’s Hidemasa Morita, Tomiyasu said he saw the video of the Oman game and noticed areas where his teammates lacked.

“Honestly speaking, I wasn’t expecting it,” Tomiyasu said of the defeat as he awaits his World Cup final qualifier debut.

“We usually switch to defense immediately after losing possession, but (against Oman) we stopped in our tracks for about a second. That delay allowed (Oman players) to peel away a lot and hit us on counters.”

Japan have been to the last six World Cup finals since making their debut in 1998. Their next qualifier is an away game but played in a neutral venue in Doha amid COVID-19 travel restrictions in China.

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