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Japan Forward Kaoru Mitoma Is a Major Doubt for Next Month’s Asian Cup Due to Ankle Injury

AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File
Brighton’s Kaoru Mitoma looks onduring the Premier League soccer match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Crystal Palace at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, England, Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

BRIGHTON, England (AP) — Japan forward Kaoru Mitoma is a major doubt for next month’s Asian Cup after sustaining an ankle injury with his English Premier League club Brighton.

Tomorrow we have more or less 10 injured players, maybe eight, but (the other) two players can’t start the game, Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi said on the eve of his team’s home match with Tottenham on Thursday.

Mitoma is one of them. We’ve lost Kaoru for around six weeks.

The 26-year-old Mitoma, a fast and skilful player, suffered his injury in Brighton’s 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace last Thursday.

The Asian Cup, to be played in Qatar, begins on Jan. 12 and four-time winner Japan has been drawn in Group D with Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam.

Japan launches its campaign against Vietnam in Doha on Jan. 14.