Kagawa pulls out of Japan game


Soccer:Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa pulled out of Japan's home World Cup qualifier against Iraq an hour before kick-off with a reported lower back problem.The Japan Football Association revealed that the playmaker felt a twinge in his back during training for the Group B qualifier in Saitama.

Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni decided not to risk Kagawa, whose injury will also be a concern to United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ahead of the home game against Wigan on Saturday. The 23-year-old has made three appearances for the Red Devils, scoring once, since his move from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

Japan survived early pressure from Iraq to beat them 1-0, taking a significant step towards qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil. Ryoichi Maeda steered in a point-blank header in the 25th minute for the Asian champions.

Japan now lead World Cup qualifying Group B by eight points from Iraq, Australia and Oman, at least until Jordan host the Socceroos later today. Alberto Zaccheroni's side have 10 points from four matches in the final round of Asian qualifying.

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