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Tuesday, 22 January, 2002, 16:41 GMT
Japan's Kawaguchi dilemma
Japan will not want Kawaguchi occupying the bench too much
Japan will not want to see Kawaguchi on the bench
By BBC Sport Online's John May

Portsmouth insist that Japanese goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi is going nowhere.

But that news may not sit well in Japan.

Since the Japanese number one was dropped by manager Graham Rix, speculation has mounted around Pompey's record 1.8m signing.

And there is increasing concern in Japan about the effect Kawaguchi's lack of first-team football could have on the nation's World Cup hopes.

Following his much trumpeted arrival at Fratton Park at the end of October, Kawaguchi has kept just one clean sheet in his 13 appearances, and conceded 25 goals.

Yoshi is an important member of our squad
Portsmouth spokesman

Kawaguchi has come in for criticism for his lack of authority with crosses, while he has also suffered from communication problems with his defenders.

Following Pompey's 4-1 exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Third Division Leyton Orient, manager Graham Rix dropped Kawaguchi and recalled Dave Beasant.

Beasant was in possession of the starting keeper's jersey at Fratton Park until Kawaguchi's arrival.

Kawaguchi was not even on the bench for Portsmouth's last match, a 3-2 defeat at the hands of promotion-chasing Wolves.

That led to inevitable speculation about his future at Portsmouth, and Kawaguchi was linked with a move to Italian club Perugia.

But a Portsmouth spokesman said: "I can categorically confirm we have had no approach from anyone regarding Yoshi.

"He is an important member of our squad."

News that Pompey are keen to retain Kawaguchi may not be well received in Japan, where newspapers are already voicing concerns at the fate and form of Japan's top players plying their trade overseas.

Dave Beasant is keeping Kawaguchi out of the Portsmouth first-team
Dave Beasant is keeping Kawaguchi out of the team

Kawaguchi joins Arsenal's Junichi Inamoto and Parma's Hidetoshi Nakata as key players who are not getting regular first-team football.

That led to speculation that the Japanese Football Association was preparing to buy up Kawaguchi's contract and place him with his old club, Yokohama Marinos.

But a London-based journalist for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper said: "That would not happen.

"I don't think national coach Phillipe Troussier is that bothered with the situation at the moment.

"Japan has got other goalkeepers, and Yoshi Kawaguchi is not seen as the automatic number one.

"He wasn't picked as the over-age goalkeeper for the Olympic squad in Sydney.

"But if Dave Beasant is still keeping him out of the Portsmouth team by the end of February, I would think that people would start to worry."

See also:

10 Jan 02 |  Portsmouth
Prosinecki stays say Pompey
09 Jan 02 |  Portsmouth
Bayern lure for Prosinecki
05 Jan 02 |  FA Cup
Orient crush Pompey
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