Japan have suffered a double injury blow with Keisuke Honda and Kengo Nakamura ruled out of World Cup qualifiers against North Korea and Uzbekistan, the Japan Football Association said Wednesday.
CSKA Moscow star Honda missed training on Tuesday after hurting his right knee in a league match against Spartak Moscow on Sunday while Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Nakamura misses out after breaking a toe, the JFA said.
Honda, 25, played a star role for the Blue Samurai in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, scoring against Cameroon and Denmark in the group stages and picking up man-of-the-match awards in both games.
Nakamura, 30, had been called up for the first time since October last year, with national coach Alberto Zaccheroni saying the midfielder deserved a place in the squad after making a return to form in the J-League.
The JFA has not yet decided on replacements for the injured men.
Japan will play North Korea at the Saitama stadium on Friday and then Uzbekistan away on September 6 in the third Asian qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.