Football: Japan call upon big guns for World Cup qualifying matches against S'pore, Cambodia

Japan's national football team head coach Vahid Halilhodzic at a press conference to announce the new members for the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.
Japan's national football team head coach Vahid Halilhodzic at a press conference to announce the new members for the 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Japan has announced its 23-man squad for the country's two upcoming World Cup qualifying matches against Singapore (Nov 12) and Cambodia (Nov 17).

The Blue Samurai, ranked 55th in the world, have selected several of their star names in the line-up, including the likes of playmaker Shinji Kagawa and forwards Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki.

Of the 23 players announced online on Thursday (Nov 5), coach Vahid Halilhodzic has picked 11 overseas-based players.

Japan are second in Group E with 10 points, having played a game less than leaders Syria (12 points). Singapore, after five games, are third on goal difference with 10 points while Cambodia have lost all five of their matches so far.

In the reverse fixture against Singapore at the Saitama Stadium in June, Japan were unable to break the Lions' defence and had to settle for a frustrating 0-0 draw.

They beat the Cambodians 3-0 in their next match three months later on home soil.

While Japan have a full-strength squad to call upon next week, host Singapore might have to cope without the services of their top striker Khairul Amri.

The 30-year-old limped off after just nine minutes in the LionsXII 2-1 win against Terengganu on Wednesday (Nov 4) night and is a major doubt for the crucial clash at the National Stadium.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers

Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Akihiro Hayashi (Sagan Tosu)

Defenders

Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan/ Italy), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Masato Morishige (Tokyo FC), Maya Yoshida (Southampton/ England), Hiroki Fujiharu (Gamba Osaka), Yuichi Maruyama (Tokyo FC), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96/ Germany)

Midfielders

Makato Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/ Germany), Yosuke Kashiwagi (Urawa Reds), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/ Germany), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover 96/ Germany), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Wataru Endo (Shonan Bellmare)

Forwards

Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City/ England), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan/ Italy), Mu Kanazaki (Kashima Antlers), Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin/ Germany), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz/ Germany), Takumi Minamino (Salzburg/Austria)