NEWS

Samurai Blue

Nakamura hat-trick propels Japan U-17s to opening win

Japan’s FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign got off to a nearly-flawless start early on Monday morning with a 6-1 win against Honduras.

Mitsubishi Yowa SC striker Keito Nakamura netted a hat-trick by the 43rd minute, with 16-year-old FC Tokyo phenomenon Takefusa Kubo making the score 4-1 by half-time.

Japan continued to press in Guwahati, with Kawasaki Frontale’s Taisei Miyashiro scoring five minutes into the second half and Cerezo Osaka’s Toichi Suzuki scoring the final goal in the 90th minute.

Yoshiro Moriyama’s boys will next take on France, who were 7-1 victors in their opener against New Caledonia, on October 11.

Samurai Blue

Japan down plucky New Zealand in Kirin Cup

Japan kicked off their Kirin Challenge Cup campaign with a win against New Zealand, with Yuya Osako and Shu Kurata securing a 2-1 win on Friday.

After a first half without goals, FC Koln star Osako netted the Samurai Blue’s first from the penalty spot - an opener that was cancelled out by Chris Wood’s strike before the hour mark.

It then fell to Gamba Osaka man Kurata to notch the winner in the 86th minute, just moments after he came off the bench to replace Yosuke Ideguchi.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men will next face Haiti in the second game of the friendly tournament next Tuesday.

Samurai Blue

Kurumaya earns debut Japan call-up for Kirin Challenge Cup

The Japan Football Association on Thursday announced the Samurai Blue’s squad of 24 players for their upcoming Kirin Challenge Cup matches against New Zealand and Haiti.

11 J.League players were selected for the pair of international friendlies, including Kashiwa Reysol goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura and Urawa Reds midfielder Wataru Endo. 

Kawasaki Frontale defender Shintaro Kurumaya was also handed his first call-up.

Japan will play New Zealand on October 6 at Toyota Stadium before welcoming Haiti to International Stadium Yokohama (Nissan Stadium) on October 10.

Below is the Samurai Blue squad for the October 2017 Kirin Challenge Cup:

GK:
Eiji Kawashima (FC Metz / France)
Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)

DF:
Hiroki Sakai (Marseille / France)
Gotoku Sakai (Hamburger SV / Germany)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter / Italy)
Shintaro Kurumaya (Kawasaki Frontale)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton / England)
Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)

MF:
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund / Germany)
Shu Kurata (Gamba Osaka)
Yuki Kobayashi (Heerenveen / Netherlands)

FW:
Yuya Kubo (Gent / Belgium)
Takuma Asano (Stuttgart / Germany)
Takashi Inui (Eibar / Spain)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin / Germany)
Yuya Osako (Koln / Germany)
Kenyu Sugimoto (Cerezo Osaka)
Yoshinori Muto (Mainz / Germany)

Samurai Blue

Japan fall short against Saudi Arabia in finale

Japan were defeated 1-0 by hosts Saudi Arabia late on Tuesday night in their final match of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifications.

With their ticket to Russia already clinched following their 2-0 win against Australia on August 31, Vahid Halilhodzic’s back line and midfield remained largely unchanged while overseas-based attackers such as Hertha Berlin’s Genki Haraguchi were rotated into the starting XI.

Japan were superior in the first half, regularly creating chances in the Saudi end. Hotaru Yamaguchi unleashed a blistering shot in the 40th minute, forcing a good save by Saudi goalkeeper Abdullah Al Maiouf.

The visitors piled on more pressure in the second half, but Saudi Arabia found their way onto the scoreboard first when Fahad Al Muwallad hammered home from inside the penalty area unmarked.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men were unable to present a response in the remaining half-hour as the West Asian side clinched World Cup qualification in front of 60,000 fans at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

The final Group B table saw Japan finish in first and Saudi Arabia in second, with third-place Australia advancing to the continental play-off against Group A counterparts Syria who finished behind Iran and South Korea.

Samurai Blue

Asano & Ideguchi send Japan to Russia

Japan booked their spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia on Thursday night with an emphatic 2-0 victory over rivals Australia at Saitama Stadium 2002.

J.Leaguers Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka) and Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka) started the match for the Samurai Blue. 

In an exciting back-and-forth match, Japan inched close to the goal in the 35th minute when Takuma Asano headed Yuto Nagatomo’s cross just wide.

Three minutes later, Australia attacker Mathew Leckie’s shot changed course after deflecting off defender Maya Yoshida, striking the post. 

The next chance went in Japan’s favor, as Nagatomo cut up the left flank and crossed to an unmarked Asano, who cooly slotted the ball in with his left foot.

The second half saw Australia get the lion’s share of the possession as super subs Tomi Juric and Tim Cahill bolstered the Socceroo attack, but Yoshida, Shoji, right back Hiroki Sakai, and veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima held the line and protected the cleansheet.

With eight minutes to stoppage-time, substitute Genki Haraguchi helped to insure full points for the Samurai Blue when he passed to Ideguchi, who unleashed a right-footed rocket from outside the penalty area that sailed above the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Mathew Ryan and under the post, giving Japan a decisive 2-0 lead.

The win was Japan’s first against Australia in FIFA World Cup qualifying, ensuring their sixth straight appearance in the final tournament. 

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men will close out the campaign on Tuesday, September 5 at Saudi Arabia in Jeddah.

Samurai Blue

Sugimoto earns first Japan call-up for crucial World Cup qualifiers

The Japan Football Association on Thursday announced the Samurai Blue’s squad of 27 players for their upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Group B rivals Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Coach Vahid Halilhodzic called up 10 J.League players, including Kashiwa Reysol goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura, Kashima Antlers defender Naomichi Ueda and Gamba Osaka midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi. 

Cerezo Osaka striker Kenyu Sugimoto also received his first national team invitation.

Japan will host Australia on August 31 at Saitama Stadium before traveling to face Saudi Arabia in Jeddah on September 5. 

Below is the list of players called up for the fixtures in August and September:

GK:

Eiji Kawashima (FC Metz / France)
Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)

DF:

Hiroki Sakai (Marseille / France)
Gotoku Sakai (Hamburger SV / Germany)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter / Italy)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton / England)
Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
Genta Miura (Gamba Osaka)

MF:

Makoto Hasebe (Frankfurt / Germany)
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Yojiro Takahagi (FC Tokyo)
Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe / Spain)
Yuki Kobayashi (Heerenveen / Netherlands)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund / Germany)

FW:

Keisuke Honda (Pachuca / Mexico)
Yuta Kubo (Gent / Belgium)
Takuma Asano (Stuttgart / Germany)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin / Germany)
Takashi Inui (Eibar / Spain)
Yoshinori Muto (Maintz / Germany)
Yuya Osako (Koln / Germany)
Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City / England)
Kenyu Sugimoto (Cerezo Osaka)

Samurai Blue

Osako scores but Japan struggle in Iraq draw

Japan drew 1-1 against Iraq on Tuesday in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, returning with a point from Tehran despite taking an early lead.

The Samurai Blue scored the opening goal in the eighth minute when Yuya Osako cleverly headed in a corner kick from Keisuke Honda, who wore the captain’s armband on his 31st birthday. 

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men attempted to lay on pressure through Genki Haraguchi and others, but the first half ended without a follow-up goal.

As the afternoon heat remained above 37 degrees Celsius, Japan’s struggles increased following a 62nd-minute injury to midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi. Just 10 minutes later, a series of defensive errors allowed Iraq to equalise through Mahdi Kamil’s effort.

With Hiroki Sakai substituted out due to an injury shortly after and striker Yuya Kubo struggling with leg cramps, Japan valiantly attempted to claim full points on the road but settled for honours even at the final whistle.

The Samurai Blue will conclude their qualifying campaign at home against Australia on August 31 and away at Saudi Arabia on September 5, needing a win from either match to guarantee advancement to the final tournament next year in Russia.

Samurai Blue

Konno goal salvages draw with Syria in warm-up

Japan’s national team drew 1-1 with Syria on Wednesday night in the Kirin Challenge Cup 2017 at Tokyo Stadium.

The international friendly was a key test for both sides ahead of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying next week, with Japan scheduled to face Iraq in Tehran and Syria set for a showdown with China.

With Kashima Antlers star Gen Shoji and Cerezo Osaka counterpart Hotaru Yamaguchi in the starting lineup, the Samurai Blue struggled to find their rhythm in the first half. 

They were dealt a severe blow early on when attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa was forced out of the match with a dislocated left shoulder, relieved after just 10 minutes by Gamba Osaka’s Shu Kurata.

Things got worse just three minutes into the second half, when an unmarked Mardik Mardikian scored a deserved opening goal.

Japan equalised in the 58th minute courtesy of Gamba midfielder Yasuyuki Konno, who struck home Yuto Nagatomo’s cross from the left side.

Takashi Inui’s introduction following that goal gave the hosts some momentum, but despite his efforts they were unable to find the game-winner in front of over 43,000 fans.

Japan’s next match will take place against Iraq on Tuesday, June 13 at 21:25 JST (GMT+9).

Samurai Blue

11 J.Leaguers named to Samurai Blue squad for June internationals

The Japan Football Association on Thursday announced the Samurai Blue squad for their upcoming Kirin Challenge Cup match against Syria as well as their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iraq.

11 J.League players were selected by head coach Vahid Halilhodzic, including Kashiwa Reyso goalkeeper Kosuke Nakamura, Urawa Reds defender Tomoya Ugajin, Gamba Osaka defender Genta Miura and Urawa Reds midfielder Wataru Endo.

After hosting Syria on June 7 at Ajinomoto Stadium, the national team will travel west to face Iraq in Iran’s PAS Stadium on June 13.

Samurai Blue squad for June:

GK:
Eiji Kawashima (FC Metz / France)
Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)

DF:
Hiroki Sakai (Marseille / France)
Gotoku Sakai (Hamburger SV / Germany)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter / Italy)
Tomoya Ugajin (Urawa Reds)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton / England)
Genta Miura (Gamba Osaka)
Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)

MF:
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds)
Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka)
Kohei Kato (Beroe Stara Zagora / Bulgaria)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund / Germany)
Shu Kurata (Gamba Osaka)
Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)

FW:
Yuta Kubo (Gent / Belgium)
Keisuke Honda (Milan / Italy)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin / Germany)
Takashi Inui (Eibar / Spain)
Yuya Osako (Koln / Germany)
Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City / England)
Takuma Asano (Stuttgart / Germany)

Samurai Blue

Doan, Kubo & Ogawa chosen for U-20 World Cup squad

The Japan Football Association on Tuesday announced the country’s squad for the upcoming 2017 FIFA Under-20 World Cup South Korea, which kicks off on May 20.

Amongst those chosen are players who have already made an impact with their senior team, such as Gamba Osaka midfielder Ritsu Doan and Jubilo Iwata striker Koki Ogawa. 

At 15 years old, FC Tokyo U-18 striker Takefusa Kubo will make his FIFA tournament debut just over half a year after representing Japan in the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship.

Japan will take on South Africa on May 21 and Uruguay on May 24 in Suwon, before travelling to face Italy in Cheonan on May 27. 


Japan U-20 NT Squad for 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup

GK
Ryosuke Kojima (Waseda University)
Go Hatano (FC Tokyo)
Louis Yamaguchi (FC Lorient / France)

DF
Ko Itakura (Kawasaki Frontale)
Yuta Nakayama (Kashiwa Reysol)
Ryo Hatsuse (Gamba Osaka)
So Fujitani (Vissel Kobe)
Kakeru Funaki (Cerezo Osaka)
Daiki Sugioka (Shonan Bellmare)
Takehiro Tomiyasu (Avispa Fukuoka)

MF
Daisuke Sakai (Oita Trinita)
Koji Miyoshi (Kawasaki Frontale)
Tsukasa Morishima (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Mizuki Ichimaru (Gamba Osaka)
Keita Endo (Yokohama F. Marinos)
Ritsu Doan (Gamba Osaka)
Teruki Hara (Albirex Niigata)

FW
Koki Ogawa (Jubilo Iwata)
Yuto Iwaki (Kyoto Sanga)
Kyosuke Tagawa (Sagan Tosu)
Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo U-18)

Samurai Blue

Morishige urges Japan improvement

Despite a resounding 4-0 win over Thailand, Japan’s players still see plenty of room for improvement.

The result left the Samurai Blue on top of Group B in 2018 World Cup qualifying thanks to goals by Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki, Yuya Kubo and Maya Yoshida.

Nevertheless, Masato Morishige felt the scoreline belies the difficulty of the match and thinks the Samurai Blue still need to work on building play better.

“We needed a result, I think the fact that we earned it was a positive,” said the FC Tokyo defender. 

“But we can still improve our combinations, and we need to move the ball around smoothly and improve our build-up before the goal.”

“We were looking to get the ball and quickly pass the ball behind their defensive line. But it’s tough to do that for 90 minutes, and sometimes you need to settle down when you have possession. 

“We have to learn how to use these 90 minutes and control the match.”

Midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake was quick to praise Japan’s opponents Thailand, who never gave up despite the deficit.

“Even after they gave up goals they kept attacking. Thailand played good football, and it was difficult for us to respond to their pressure,” the Cerezo Osaka star admitted.

With three matches left in the round, Japan lead Saudi Arabia on goal difference with 16 points.

Samurai Blue

Japan outclass Chanatip’s Thailand

Japan thoroughly outclassed Thailand 4-0 in their World Cup qualifying clash on Tuesday, as Yuya Kubo’s match-winning performance saw a party atmosphere take over Saitama Stadium.

The Samurai Blue took control of Group B with the win sending them top of the standings on 16 points, three clear of rivals Australia.

It was Shinji Kagawa who got the ball rolling for Vahid Halilhodzic’s men on the night, as his beautiful individual effort handed Japan their opener in the eighth minute.

And despite the efforts of future Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo star Chanatip Songkrasin, who had the opportunity to enamour himself with a Japanese crowd as Thailand’s most potent attacking outlet, the War Elephants were unable to drag themselves back into the match.

Kubo, who already provided the assist for Kagawa, laid the ball on a plate for Shinji Okazaki to nod home from his cross. The Gent man then stole the headlines for himself by netting the third goal with a stunning 20-yard effort.

The result was inevitable and Maya Yoshida netted Japan’s fourth in the 83rd minute from a corner kick, as Eiji Kawashima saved Teerasil Dangda’s penalty right at the death to put the seal on a memorable Japan win.

Samurai Blue

Kiyotake: Japan won’t change against Thailand

Hiroshi Kiyotake expects Japan to stay on the attack when they host Thailand on Tuesday night.

The Samurai Blue will be looking to replicate their 2-0 win in Bangkok last September and remain on pace to secure a sixth straight FIFA World Cup berth.

And Kiyotake, who sat out Japan’s 2-0 win over UAE last week, expects his men to enforce themselves on their opponents in a bid to dominate.

“We don’t know if Thailand will attack or to try to draw us out, but our football won’t change and we have to demonstrate the Japanese style on the pitch,” Kiyotake told reporters on Monday evening. 

“I think we will spent more time with the ball than we did against UAE, so it will come down to how well we force them to push higher up the pitch.

The former Sevilla man did not shy away from discussing his competition with team-mate Shinji Kagawa for a starting role as attacking midfielder.

“Of course I want to play, but above all I want us to book our ticket to the World Cup,” Kiyotake explained. “I have to prepare well so that I can be involved in whatever way I can.”

Samurai Blue

Halilhodzic: Japan must not fail against Thailand

Vahid Halilhodzic emphasized high expectations for Japan ahead of their key 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Thailand on Tuesday night.

A win in the friendly confines of Saitama Stadium would give the Samurai Blue a significant advantage in the Group B standings heading into their final three matches.

And Halilhodzic expects his men to capitalise on their vociferous home support to secure three vital points that will put them on the home straight to Russia 2018.

"After the UAE match I told the players that the value of this win would depend on our result against Thailand,” the coach said. 

“Many might think this will be a simple match but in fact I think it will be difficult. If we slack off even a little the result will be poor. Thailand are a good team so we have to be careful.”

Since their startling loss to UAE last September, Japan have rebounded to take 13 of 15 points and trail leaders Saudi Arabia on goal difference.

"Today I told the players that this will be an important match that could put a World Cup berth within our grasp,” Halilhodzic continued. “The players know that it's their responsibility to go and make history.

"We know the stadium will be full, there will be a dynamic atmosphere, and our supporters will help us. With all of that going for us, we must not fail.”

Samurai Blue

Halilhodzic: UAE win useless if Japan don’t beat Thailand

Vahid Halilhodzic has indicated that Japan’s win over UAE would have been nothing if they do not beat Thailand next in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Speaking after the Samurai Blue’s strong 2-0 win at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, the trainer praised a “beautiful” performance and hailed his men’s control of the encounter.

Halilhodzic also praised goalscorer Yasuyuki Konno but is keeping an eye out for Thailand, urging his players to continue their progress to Russia 2018 with a win.

“It [the result against UAE] was a beautiful win for Japan,” he told reporters. “The players controlled the match and listened to my strategic advice. There were two or three dangerous moments but we were the better team. 

“I’m proud of my players and want to congratulate them as well as UAE who played a fine match.

“Konno played fantastically. I started to get ideas after watching his most recent matches for Gamba Osaka. 

“He was basically flawless, forcing turnovers and scoring a goal. As I previously said, we needed experienced players for this match and Konno delivered.

“If we don’t beat Thailand, today’s win against UAE becomes worthless. That’s what I told the players and we have to work hard and prepare for this next match.  

“If we continue these results the gates to the World Cup should open up for us, but we’re focused on winning one match at a time.”

Samurai Blue

Japan’s Konno reflects on “miracle” goal

Yasuyuki Konno was left to celebrate a dream return for Japan after he scored in their 2-0 win over UAE, and declared his strike a “miracle”.

The Gamba Osaka veteran, who was receiving his first international outing since March 2015, netted the clincher at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday.

Afterwards, he reflected on his initial nervousness but added that he settled in well once Japan had worked out a plan to contain their effervescent hosts.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent confident going into the match,” Konno told reporters. “But then I was able to focus on our pressing and intercepting their passes, so it’s good that I was able to start the match positively.

“I’d discussed with Shinji (Kagawa) that we couldn’t just attack quickly; we had to set our rhythm, control the ball, and establish our positioning. I think we were able to accomplish that.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent confident going into the match, but then I was able to focus on our pressing and intercepting their passes, so it’s good that I was able to start the match positively.

“The goal was a bit of a miracle. Genki [Haraguchi] drew the defender off me and [Yuya] Kubo just sent me a perfect ball: the right speed, the right angle, the right spot. 

“I trapped it and was maybe in a hurry to take the shot, so I’m just glad it went in.”

Samurai Blue

Kubo & Konno seal vital Japan win

Yasuyuki Konno celebrated a dream return to the Japanese national team with a goal as his side came away from UAE with a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win.

The Samurai Blue are now second in the AFC qualifying table for Russia 2018, as Yuya Kubo netted his maiden international goal with the opener from Hiroki Sakai’s pass in the 13th minute.

Eiji Kawashima was instrumental to victory as he saved while one-on-one against Ali Mabkhout shortly after.

And Kubo proved decisive once more as his cross found its way to Gamba Osaka veteran Konno, who turned home at the far post with his third strike in Japan colours.

Following a key victory, Vahid Halilhodzic’s men now head into their next qualifier against Thailand on Tuesday at Saitama Stadium in high spirits.

Samurai Blue

Konno admits he was nervous about Japan call

Japan midfielder Yasuyuki Konno said he was initially nervous to be called up by the national team again, but is now just ready to do his job.

The Gamba Osaka veteran last featured for the Samurai Blue in March 2015 and has since been out of the fold, though he was included in Vahid Halilhodzic’s plans for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against UAE and Thailand.

Indeed, Konno could feature from the start in light of Makoto Hasebe’s injury, but the 34-year-old revealed he is not speculating on Halilhodzic’s line-up and is focused on getting used to the national environment again.

“I was very nervous [about the call-up],” he told reporters. “I was called up to this squad for a reason, and I want to be able to respond to that.

“No [I did not miss such nervousness], not really. It feels like the first time I was called up.”

Addressing whether he thought he would play, Konno added: “I don’t know if that’s true [Hasebe’s injury will lead to a starting spot]. 

“In any case I want to focus on adjusting to the squad and preparing physically and mentally to meet our coach’s demands.”

With the squad likely to call on his experience dealing with big stages such as World Cup qualification, Konno finished with his forecast of the match at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.

“We have a lot to keep in mind, like how the referees make their decisions and the unique atmosphere,” he concluded. 

“Even when we aren’t in trouble, the home supporters get riled up and it’s hard to keep focus. The most important thing is that we stay calm on the pitch.”

Samurai Blue

J.Leaguers selected for Japan’s WCQ squad

The Japan Football Association on Thursday announced their squad for the country’s upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers versus UAE and Thailand.

The list of 25 players features 11 J.Leaguers, including Cerezo Osaka’s Hiroshi Kiyotake, FC Tokyo’s Yojiro Takahagi and Gamba Osaka’s Shu Kurata.

The Samurai Blue will travel to face UAE on March 24 before returning home to host Thailand on March 28 at Saitama Stadium.


Japan squad for March 2017 internationals

GK
Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
Eiji Kawashima (FC Metz)
Akihiro Hayashi (FC Tokyo)

DF
Hiroki Sakai (Olympique de Marseille / France)
Gotoku Sakai (Hamburger SV / Germany)
Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan / Italy)
Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds)
Maya Yoshida (Southampton / England)
Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)
Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers)
Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)

MF
Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt / Germany)
Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka)
Yojiro Takahagi (FC Tokyo)
Shu Kurata (Gamba Osaka)
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund / Germany)
Hiroshi Kiyotake (Cerezo Osaka)

FW
Keisuke Honda (AC Milan / Italy)
Takuma Asano (Stuttgart / Germany)
Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin / Germany)
Takashi Usami (Augsburg / Germany)
Yuya Osako (Koln / Germany)
Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City / England)
Yuya Kubo (Gent / Belgium)

Samurai Blue

Japan to face Syria in June friendly

The Japan Football Association on Wednesday confirmed that the country’s national team will play Syria in a friendly on June 7.

The match at Chofu’s Tokyo Stadium will serve as an important warm-up for the Samurai Blue ahead of their scheduled 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at Iraq.

“Syria play similarly to Iraq and we know from our encounters in the second round that they are a high-quality team,” coach Vahid Halilhodzic said. 

“We chose to hold this match in Tokyo with our qualifier against Iraq in mind. We want to prepare and train well before we travel for that match.”