Soccer: New faces Mitoma, Hatate named for next World Cup qualifiers

© Kyodo News

Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu has given debut call-ups to Brighton midfielder Kaoru Mitoma and Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Reo Hatate ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers as announced by the Japan Football Association on Thursday.

While Mitoma, who is currently on loan at Royal Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium, and Hatate made the 27-man squad for the Asian zone Group B qualifiers on Nov. 11 against Vietnam in Hanoi and on Nov. 16 against Oman in Muscat, injured sparkplug Takefusa Kubo was a noticeable omission.

Kubo, who is currently on loan to Mallorca from Real Madrid, was also sidelined for Japan's World Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia and Australia after sustaining a knee injury in late September.

Saudi Arabia lead the group with 12 points, followed by Australia with nine. Oman are currently third with six points, leading Japan -- ranked 28th in the world -- on goals scored. China have three points and Vietnam none.

A top-two finish would ensure the Samurai Blue qualify for a seventh consecutive World Cup. A third-place finish would send Moriyasu's men to a playoff against Group A's third-place team, followed by an intercontinental playoff.