FC Tokyo to hire Andres Iniesta impersonator with star set to miss game

FC Tokyo will bring in an impersonator of Andres Iniesta to entertain a sell-out crowd with the Vissel Kobe star likely to miss the trip to the Ajinomoto Stadium on Sunday.

Iniesta arrived in Japan from Barcelona last month but has returned to Spain for a brief visit after two J-League appearances against Shonan Bellmare and Kashiwa Reysol.

And Tokyo, looking forward to a first sell-out crowd of around 50,000 in three years, will hire impersonator Iam Noda as a "friend" of their mascot to give fans their Iniesta fix.

The real Iniesta, who already missed Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Cerezo Osaka, should be ready to face Jubilo Iwata on Aug. 11.

"Iniesta has made a quick trip back to Spain to pick up his family and bring them to Japan," Vissel Kobe business director Masayuki Mori told ESPN FC. "He will be away for just a few days and will then return to action."

The former Spain midfielder is the second World Cup winner to head to the Kansai club after the arrival of Lukas Podolski last season.

Kobe, fifth in the J-League, are looking to finish in the top three for the first time in their history.