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 By John Duerden

Takefusa Kubo makes Tokyo FC debut, hailed as the Japanese Messi

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts recap the big wins for Japan, South Korea and Iran in AFC World Cup qualifying.
Takefusa Kubo makes debut for FC Tokyo
Takefusa Kubo, right, made his FC Tokyo senior debut in a Japanese cup game on Wednesday.

Thailand, Iran and South Korea are Asian nations who have their own versions of Lionel Messi, however misguided the comparison. And now, Japan have joined the club. Hopes are high that Takefusa Kubo will shine brighter than any Japanese player in history.

In terms of media attention, he is already on his way. Still only 15, he made his senior debut in midweek for FC Tokyo in a cup game against Consadole Sapporo. becoming the second youngest rookie in J.League history after Takayuki Morimoto in 2004.

It...

 By John Duerden

Kazuyoshi Miura not just Japan legend but world record holder now

Yokohama striker Kazuyoshi Miura
Kazuyoshi Miura is still playing in J2 with Yokohama FC despite the age of 50.

V-Varen Nagasaki and Yokohama FC played to a fairly unremarkable 1-1 draw last Saturday in Japan's second tier, but some fairly remarkable history was made as well.

Kazuyoshi Miura was subbed off in the second half after becoming the became the oldest ever player to feature in a professional game at the age of 50 years and seven days, surpassing English legend Stanley Matthews.

Fans around Japan have been wondering for years when they would see the familiar figure of the forward for the last time...

ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Argentina, Netherlands, Japan and Ghana in danger of missing World Cup

With 12 months to go before we know the 31 teams who will join hosts Russia at the 2018 World Cup, we take a look at some of the major nations and familiar names who appear to have a battle on their hands to make the finals.

Argentina and Chile

Argentina's 3-0 defeat in Brazil last week left them facing a huge crisis in their qualification bid. However, victory at home to Colombia on Tuesday averted this for now, as at least that win left them fifth and that offers a playoff against the winners of...

 By John Duerden

Should Shinji Kagawa leave Borussia Dortmund and return to the J.League?

Shinji Kagawa has struggled since returning to Germany, but he still has plenty to offer a top club.

There are rumours in the Japanese media that Shinji Kagawa could leave Borussia Dortmund in January to return home and sign for J.League club Yokohama F. Marinos.

ESPN FC asks whether he should stay or go.

Time to go

The main reason the playmaker should take his talents home is he is no longer an automatic pick for his current club. Since returning from a mixed spell with Manchester United in the summer of 2014, Kagawa has struggled to recapture the form that made him a star in his first German...

 By Jason Dasey

Hasebe the hero as Japan keep Tim Cahill quiet in World Cup qualifier

Japan can look back with satisfaction on their gritty 1-1 draw with Asian Cup champions Australia in a 2018 AFC World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday night.

In a first meeting between familiar foes in two years, Genki Haraguchi gave the Japanese a fifth-minute lead before the Socceroos equalised through Mile Jedinak's penalty early in the second half.

Here are three thoughts on Japan's performance at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium:

AustraliaAustralia
JapanJapan
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1. Validation for Vahid

Just 18 months into the job, Japan coach Vahid...

 By John Duerden

Keisuke Honda not exactly living the dream at AC Milan

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains the predicaments Milan and Inter find themselves in at the start of the Serie A season.
Keisuke Honda
Keisuke Honda has only seen 19 minutes of action for AC Milan this season.

Playing for AC Milan was all Keisuke Honda wanted when growing up in Japan in the 90s and being handed the No. 10 shirt was just even better.

With that individual entry on the bucket list ticked, the 30 year-old may reflect that had his timing, so good on the pitch, been a little better off it then Milan could have been magical in many more ways.

It is not just the time spent on the bench so far this Serie A season -- all but 19 of the 450 minutes Milan have played -- but the feeling that the Osaka-born...