- Japan head coach Akira Nishino announces 23-man squad
- 14 are from Euro-based clubs, 8 play in J-league
- Final 23-man squad lists will be published by FIFA on 4 June
Japan coach Akira Nishino announced 23-men Japan squad. The squad includes three players with more than 100 internation experience – Yuto Nagatomo, Shinji Okazaki and captain Matoko Hasebe. There are two players in the team, who played fewer than 10 internationals. Eleven of the selected players featured at the last World Cup in Brazil.
Former JFA technical director Nishino, who was appointed coach in April following Halilhodzic’s firing, initially hinted that the players from outside the original 27 had a chance of making the final 23-man squad. In the end, however, the JFA opted to pick from players who played in Ghana match.
The players omitted from the initially announced 27-man squad, were forward Takuma Asano and midfielders Yosuke Ideguchi and Kento Misao, while another midfielder, Toshihiro Aoyama, had already pulled out of the squad because of injury.
The majority of the squad play in European clubs, while eight members of the squad play for teams in the J-League, the country’s domestic competition. The only exception is Keisuke Honda, who plays for Pachuca in Mexico.
Japan lost to Ghana 2-0 in an international friendly on last Wednesday. Their next international friendly is on June 8 against Switzerland in Lugano before playing Paraguay on June 12 in Innsbruck, Austria.
Nishino said that he was aiming to take points from each of Japan’s Group H- league matches – a challenging task against three strong opponents in Colombia, Senegal and Poland.
“I want to take points from one game at a time and advance past the group stage,” Nisino said.
Japan will start its World Cup campaign against Colombia in Saransk, Russia on June 19. The Samurai Blue will then face Senegal in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 24 before playing their final group match against Poland in Volgograd, Russia on June 28.
Japan World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz/France), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol);
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray/Turkey), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Red Diamonds), Wataru Endo (Urawa Red Diamonds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton/England), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille/France), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg/Germany), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers);
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca/Mexico), Takashi Inui (Eibar/Spain), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/Germany), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka/Japan), Genki Haraguchi (Fortuna Dusseldorf/Germany), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe/Spain), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale);
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City/England), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen/Germany), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz/Germany).