New Leeds United signing Yosuke Ideguchi will have the chance to lay his hands on a first senior international honour this weekend after helping Japan to within one result of the E1 Football Championship title.
The midfielder, who marked the agreement of his switch from Gamba Osaka to Leeds by scoring an injury-time winner against North Korea on Saturday, appeared for an hour as Japan beat China 2-1 on Tuesday to put themselves within touching distance of winning the East Asian Championship.
Japan will claim the trophy for only the second time since the tournament’s inauguration in 2003 if they avoid defeat to South Korea in Tokyo this Saturday, giving Ideguchi the ideal send-off before his £500,000 move to Europe.
Coach Vahid Halilhodzic brought him off the bench after half-an-hour against China following an injury to Ryota Oshima. Two goals in last six minutes earned Japan a late and narrow win.
This weekend’s clash with South Korea is Ideguchi’s last scheduled appearance ahead of his switch from J-League side Gamba to United.
A deal between the clubs for the 21-year-old’s signature was struck towards the end of last week, securing United’s first acquisition of the forthcoming January transfer window.
Leeds will officially finalise the deal after the window opens on January 1 but Ideguchi’s failure to qualify immediately for a UK work permit will see him sent abroad to a European club on loan next month.