Japan's 2014 FIFA World Cup™ captain Makoto Hasebe has pulled out of Friday's home friendly against Uruguay because of a knee injury, officials said on Thursday.
The 30-year-old, who played through the pain barrier at the World Cup with an injury to his right knee, left Japan's training camp in Sapporo to return to his German club Eintracht Frankfurt after consulting with team doctors.
"I deeply apologise to the team," Hasebe told local media, adding that he had felt a twinge in his left knee during a Bundesliga game last weekend.
"I spoke with the coach (Javier Aguirre) and the medical staff and we decided I would not be able to play at 100 per cent. It's a big disappointment."
Japan face Uruguay on Friday in their first game under Mexican Aguirre, who replaced Italian Alberto Zaccheroni following the side's meek exit from the World Cup in Brazil. He is yet to name his captain for the game.
Uruguay, who will be without controversial Barcelona striker Luis Suarez, said that Jorge Fucile, Jonathan Rodriguez and Sebastian Coates had withdrawn from their squad through injury.
Asian champions Japan take on Venezuela in Yokohama on 9 September in another friendly and will play a further four matches, including a glamour game against Brazil in Singapore next month, before they open the defence of their AFC Asian Cup title in January.