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Japan's Hasebe calls time on national team 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Tokyo: Japan captain Makoto Hasebe has announced his retirement from the national team, on the heels of the squad's heartbreaking ejection from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Round of 16 match against Belgium.

Makoto Hasebe-Japan-FIFA

"I have decided to end the chapter of my career with the national team with this tournament," Hasebe wrote on his Instagram account.

The 34-year-old defensive midfielder's departure from the Blue Samurai could mean a changing of the guard for the team, with former AC Milan striker Keisuke Honda, 32, also saying he plans to retire from the national squad.

Hasebe, who won the German Cup with Eintracht Frankfurt last season, has been on the national team for more than 12 years under five coaches.

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This year's World Cup is his third, after South Africa in 2010 and Brazil in 2014, and saw his team come heartstoppingly close to the quarter-finals before crashing out against Belgium.

Japan were ousted after Belgium came from behind to win 3-2 in their first match in the knock-out round.

Japan's next major assignment will be the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, where the Blue Samurai will be seeking a record-extending fifth Continental title.

They are in Group F for the January 5-February 1, 2019 extravaganza, alongside Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan.

Sources: AFP, FIFA via Getty Images

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