Japan name squad to play Uzbekistan qualifier
Celtic's Shunsuke Nakamura is one of five Europe-based players that have been called up by Japan coach Takeshi Okada for their World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan next month.
Nakamura has been named in the 26-man squad along with Daisuke Matsui of St Etienne, Wolfsburg pair Makoto Hasebe and Yoshito Okubo and VVV Venlo midfielder Keisuke Honda for the qualifier on June 6.
Gamba Osaka defender Satoshi Yamaguchi returns to the squad while 18-year-old Urawa Reds midfielder Naoki Yamada have been called up. Yamada has shone for the Reds in his 10 appearances since making his professional debut on March 14.
The squad will begin training in Osaka from Monday although all the Europe-based players except for Honda will join them after the end of their respective club's season.
Japan are currently second in Group A of the Asian World Cup qualifiers with a four-point lead over third-place Bahrain and can secure their place at the World Cup with just one win from their remaining three qualifiers.
After travelling to Uzbekistan they then meet Qatar on June 10 in Yokohama before tackling group leaders Australia on June 17 in Melbourne.
Japan warm-up for those games with a game against Chile in Osaka on May 27 before playing Belgium in Tokyo four days later in a three-nation Kirin Cup tournament.
"This is the squad to win the games against Uzbekistan and Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers," said Okada.
"I've selected those whom we know about their ability as well as those who I hope can give some motivation to the rest of the squad.
"The schedule is a little tight, but we'd like to prepare to make ourselves to be fully fit for the Uzbekistan match."
Japan Squad: Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Ryota Tsuzuki (Urawa Reds), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale); Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F. Marinos), Satoshi Yamaguchi (Gamba Osaka), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Urawa Reds), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Tomoaki Makino (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers); Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic), Hideo Hashimoto (Gamba Osaka), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Daisuke Matsui (St. Etienne), Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg), Keisuke Honda (VVV Venlo), Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo Osaka), Naoki Yamada (Urawa Reds); Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Yoshito Okubo (VfL Wolfsburg), Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shinzo Koroki (Kashima Antlers).