Japan coach Akira Nishino has named his 23-man World Cup squad, relying heavily on veteran players with previous experience in the tournament. Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa were among almost a dozen named on Thursday who represented Japan four years ago in Brazil when Japan failed to advance from the group stage.
Nishino made his debut as Japan’s coach on Wednesday when his team lost 2-0 to Ghana in a friendly. Japan fired Vahid Halilhodzic last month, only two months before Russia’s World Cup opens, and replaced him with Nishino. In two World Cup warm-up matches, Japan will face Switzerland on June 8 in Lugano, Switzerland, and Paraguay on June 12 in Innsbruck, Austria.
Japan will play in Group H at the World Cup with Colombia, Poland and Senegal in its sixth straight World Cup. It has only twice reached the knockout round, losing both times in the last 16.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz/FRA), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa)
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray/TUR), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa), Wataru Endo (Urawa), Maya Yoshida (Southampton/ENG), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille/FRA), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg/GER), Gen Shoji, Naomichi Ueda (Kashima)
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca/MEX), Takashi Inui (Eibar/ESP), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund/GER), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi, (Fortuna Dusseldorf/GER), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf/GER), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe/ESP), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki)
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester/ENG), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen/GER), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz/GER) (AFP)
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