Japan sets Confed Cup roster
TOKYO -- A Japan squad without any surprises was chosen for the Confederations Cup on Wednesday, a day after the team secured a fifth straight World Cup appearance.
Keisuke Honda, whose goal in stoppage time allowed Japan to draw 1-1 with Australia and qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday, and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa were among the 23 named by coach Alberto Zaccheroni.
Japan is the first team to qualify for the World Cup as Group B winner in Asia.
But while the Japanese media were hailing Honda as a national hero for converting the penalty that meant Japan qualified for the first time on home soil, some in the media were warning Japan will have to improve vastly to be a factor in Brazil next year.
Nikkan Sports said Japan was fortunate to draw with an aging Australia side, and Zaccheroni needed new talent and tactics, and to try and rely less on Honda.
Japan, runner-up in the Confederations Cup 12 years ago, will open this edition against Brazil on June 15. Japan has never beaten Brazil in nine meetings at the full international level. Japan faces Italy four days later before wrapping up the group stage against Mexico on June 22.
"The Confederations Cup will be a great place to find out where we are in the pecking order of world football," Zaccheroni said.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo).
Defenders: Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuzo Kurihara (Yokohama F Marinos), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart).