Doha, Jan 9 (DPA) New Cologne signing Tomoaki Makino and Gotoku Sakai have been withdrawn from the Japanese squad at the Asian Cup due to injuries, organisers said Sunday.
Makino, who joined struggling Bundesliga club Cologne in the winter-break, injured himself during training, but had hoped to recover in time to play during the January 7-29 tournament.
Sakai, an uncapped 19-year-old, was suffering from back pains.
Their withdrawal leaves Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni in trouble at the back as both players are defenders and the Italian already had to leave World Cup centrebacks Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Yuji Nakazawa out of the squad.
There is also a question mark hanging over Daiki Iwamasa, who is recovering from a foot injury.
Ryota Moriwaki, who has yet to play for the national team and Mitsuru Nagata, who has played just once, have been called up to take the place of Makino and Sakai.
Teams can change their squads up to six hours before their first match if players are ruled out through injury.