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WOLFSBURG, GERMANY: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Japan lines up during the international friendly match between Germany and Japan at Volkswagen Arena on September 09, 2023. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu returned to the pitch to play 45 minutes for Japan against Iraq late last week, following his recent injury absence.

Due to an injury he suffered with Arsenal, Tomiyasu wasn’t completely fit at the start of the AFC Asian Cup. He missed Japan’s opener against Vietnam, as well as the first half of their match against Iraq.

Japan did win against Vietnam, but they conceded twice, and then twice more in the first half against Iraq, showing defensive frailties without Tomiyasu.

Tomiyasu helped the team to change that, as they didn’t concede in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch. But they only managed to score once, slipping to a 2-1 defeat.

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Japan reacts during the international friendly match between Germany and Japan at Volkswagen Arena on September 09, 2023. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)
WOLFSBURG, GERMANY: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Japan reacts during the international friendly match between Germany and Japan at Volkswagen Arena on September 09, 2023. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

The Asian Cup allows teams to bring 26 players to the tournament, but only 23 can be named in any given matchday squad. As a result, there will always be a few players missing.

Tomiyasu was one of those players in Japan’s opening game, given he hadn’t been involved in full training with Japan for most of their pre-game sessions.

Instead, he’d taken on an individual workload while the main session went on without him. Tomiyasu has since returned to full training.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 28: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal celebrates after scoring the team's fifth goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 28, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND: Takehiro Tomiyasu of Arsenal celebrates after scoring the team’s fifth goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Sheffield United at Emirates Stadium on October 28, 2023. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

With their results so far, Japan aren’t yet guaranteed progression to the knockout stages of the Asian Cup.

The top two teams in each group qualify automatically, but Japan could still finish third, in which case they’d have to hope they were one of the four best third-place finishers.

To avoid any risk of elimination, Japan need to draw or win against Indonesia in their final game on Wednesday, January 24th at 11:30 GMT.

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