Okada names Japan squad for 2010 qualifiers
Europe-based quartet Shunsuke Nakamura, Junichi Inamoto, Daisuke Matsui and Makoto Hasebe have been included in Japan's squad for their World Cup qualifier against Bahrain on September 6.
Celtic midfielder Nakamura, Eintracht Frankfurt's Inamoto, St Etienne's Matsui and Wolfsburg's Hasebe will look to help Japan kick off the final round of Asian qualifiers with victory at the Bahrain National Stadium.
Japan have been drawn in Group A alongside Bahrain, Australia, Qatar and Uzbekistan.
Coach Takeshi Okada has also called up Yasuhito Endo, who has recovered from health problems which saw the Gamba Osaka midfielder hospitalised for several weeks in July.
Urawa Reds forward Tatsuya Tanaka and Sanfrecce Hiroshima forward Hisato Sato have also been included in the initial 20-man squad which is expected to grow following midweek J. League matches.
'All the final round qualifiers are important, but the first one with Bahrain has a lot of meaning to us,' said Okada.
'The players I've chosen this time are strong at playing in the heat or have got used to the heat. Plus, they know how to we like to play.
'I hope we can get a good result from the first important game.'
The squad will meet for a training session on August 30 before flying to Bahrain three days later, with the Europe-based players expected to fly directly to Bahrain.
The top two countries in each group will go straight to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while the two third-placed teams will contest a play-off to then challenge the winner of the Oceania group in a two-legged tie.
Japan squad for World Cup qualifier against Bahrain on September 6:
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Shusaku Nishikawa (Oita Trinita); Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F Marinos), Kazumichi Takagi (Shimizu S-Pulse), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Urawa Reds), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo); Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic), Junichi Inamoto (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Daisuke Matsui (St Etienne), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg); Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Seiichiro Maki (JEF United Chiba), Hisato Sato (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Tatsuya Tanaka (Urawa Reds).