10/09/2013 13:59, Report by Mark Froggatt

World Cup Reds: Japan

We run the rule over United stars' prospects of playing at the World Cup finals next year...

United players: Shinji Kagawa (49 caps, 16 goals).

Japan have already qualified, right? That’s right, and in style too! They dominated Group B, claiming 17 points from a possible 24 to finish four clear of second-placed Australia. Impressively, they also scored more goals than any other Asian country, while only conceding five times. However, the Japanese disappointed in June's Confederations Cup, finishing bottom of Group A and losing all three matches.

How much did Kagawa contribute? The 24-year-old was one of Japan's most influential figures, playing in six of their eight qualifiers and scoring three goals. Notably, the fixtures he missed were due to an injury sustained while playing for United last November. 

Situation at United? Although his first season by undermined by injury, Shinji impressed whenever called upon and finished the campaign with six goals from 26 matches. Ever the perfectionist, he expects better of himself this term and hopes to impress under new manager David Moyes, who is yet to field the Japanese midfielder.

Likelihood of boarding the plane? Shinji might as well book his ticket now because, realistically, the only thing that could prevent him from flying is injury.

More: World Cup Reds: Brazil | Chile | Denmark


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