Japan in pinch

Agence France Presse

Tokyo, June 2:

Asian champions Japan felt the pinch as star midfielder Shinji Ono broke part of his foot on the eve of a make-or-break World Cup qualifier against Bahrain. The Feyenoord player injured his foot during the team’s practice in Manama, where Japan and Bahrain are to play on Friday. Ono, considered the “control tower” of the team’s offence, was sent to hospital in Bahrain. The Japanese FA later announced he fractured his right instep. The injury is also likely to put Ono out for a match against North Korea on June 8 in Bangkok. Friday’s showdown at the National Stadium is vital for Japan as a defeat can virtually destroy their chances of booking one of the two automatic berths from Asia’s Group B to play in next year’s tournament in Germany.