Kyogo Furuhashi: Japanese FA make plea to government over Celtic forward, Rangers clash implications

The Japanese FA have appealed to its government to allow foreign-based players, including Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi, to return home next month for two key World Cup qualifiers.

Celtic forward Kyogo Furuhashi.
Celtic forward Kyogo Furuhashi.

Japan face China on January 27 and Saudi Arabia on February 1 as they bid to make the finals in Qatar next November. They currently sit second in Group B of the Asian qualification section, a point clear of Australia in third place. The top two countries are guaranteed a spot at the World Cup, but finishing third would require a play-off.

Only domestic-based players will take on Uzbekistan in a friendly before the crucial double-header, but Japan want to use overseas players for the match against the Chinese and the Saudis. However, they will need the Japanese government to relax strict rules on entry to the country that have been in place to combat the rise in omicron coronavirus infections.

Koji Sorimachi, the technical director of the Japanese FA, is calling on the authorities to make exemptions for returning footballers, stressing the importance for the nation of reaching the World Cup.

"The Japanese government should know the significance of our participation in the Qatar World Cup,” Sorimachi said.

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"I believe we will negotiate various conditions for the games against China and Saudi Arabia. It is imperative we have our best squad for the game.

"At the moment I am praying and keeping an hourly watch on the omicron trends."

If Japan are able to call upon overseas-based players, it means Furuhashi would miss three Celtic matches in the cinch Premiership, including the Old Firm clash with Rangers on February 2.

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