May 31, 2018
TOKYO - Head coach Akira Nishino on Thursday named Japan's 23-man squad for the World Cup kicking off June 14 in Russia.
Pachuca's Keisuke Honda, Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa and Leicester's Shinji Okazaki were among the veterans named in a squad comprised predominantly of overseas-based players.
Kashima Antlers midfielder Kento Misao, Stuttgart forward Takuma Asano and Leonesa midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi were the three players dropped from the 26-man squad for Japan's final World Cup warmup on home soil, a 2-0 loss to Ghana on Wednesday.
Sanfrecce Hiroshima defensive midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama had earlier pulled out of the squad with a right knee injury.
Midfielder Shoya Nakajima was a notable omission following a standout season with Portuguese side Portimonense. The 23-year-old was not picked for the Ghana match despite a strong performance on debut for Japan in the Samurai Blue's 1-1 friendly draw with Mali in March.
Former Japan Football Association technical director Nishino, who became head coach following the shock firing of predecessor Vahid Halilhodzic early last month, said 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 solely from among players selected for the Ghana match.
Japan will open its World Cup campaign against Group H opponents Colombia in the city of Saransk on June 19. The Samurai Blue will then face Senegal in Yekaterinburg on June 24 before playing their final group match against Poland in Volgograd on June 28.
Japan will be aiming to progress past the group stage for the first time since the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Final 23-man World Cup squad:
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz); Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka); Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol).
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray); Tomoaki Makino, Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds); Maya Yoshida (Southampton); Hiroki Sakai (Marseille); Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg); Gen Shoji, Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers).
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt); Keisuke Honda (Pachuca); Takashi Inui (Eibar); Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund); Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka); Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf); Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe); Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale).
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester); Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen); Yoshinori Muto (Mainz).
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