Shinji Kagawa cut a forlorn figure after being substituted at
half-time during Japan's 1-0 friendly victory over the United
Arab Emirates, having made little impact on the game.
After enjoying an impressive start to his United career,
triggering 'Kagawa-mania' across Japan, the forward failed to
mask his disappointment after Thursday's match.
"Of course I wanted to play more minutes," the 23-year-old
told reporters after Japan struggled in their final warm-up for
a home World Cup qualifier against Iraq on Tuesday.
"I always want to score but the coach makes the decisions.
I'll have to look at my performance today," added Kagawa, who
sat at the end of the bench in the second half, barely talking.
"My body felt a little heavier than I expected, probably
from the flight."
Kagawa has been a instant hit at Old Trafford, earning
praise from United manager sir Alex Ferguson, who paid 17 million
euros for the former Borussia Dortmund playmaker
His transfer to one of the world's top clubs elevated him to
celebrity status, leading to him being mobbed by fans at Sapporo
airport before a friendly last month.
However, Kagawa was ineffective on Thursday, striker Mike
Havenaar sparing Japan's blushes with a 69th-minute winner to
give the Asian champions an unconvincing win.
Midfielder Keisuke Honda had blazed over with barely a
minute on the clock following a clever backheel from Kagawa but
that early promise was the United signing's best moment in a
Kagawa often found himself taking the ball into blind alleys
and was hauled off after frustrating coach Alberto Zaccheroni by
attempting a few too many stepovers which led to no end product.
"Fatigue is not an excuse," Kagawa said. "I wasn't able to
run as much as I thought I would. I gradually want to focus my
sights on the Iraq game. The next game will be a completely
Captain Makoto Hasegawa and Honda were also substituted
early on Thursday ahead of the clash with Iraq, currently under
the stewardship of former Japan coach Zico.
Japan overpowered Oman 3-0 and Jordan 6-0 at home before
being held 1-1 in Australia in June in their first three games
in the final round of Asian 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
"The next game is the most important. It will be a lot
tougher - it's why I'm here," Kagawa added. "Hopefully I can
make a real difference and we can take our chances."
The Blue Samurai lead World Cup qualifying Group B by five
points from Iraq, Australia and Jordan.
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