Japan bank on experience for Russia 2018

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Akira Nishino has kept faith with Japan’s experienced stalwarts as he named his preliminary squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday.

Despite there previously being questions marks over the form of some of them, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki have all been called up to Nishino’s 27-man roster, which will be reduced to 23 by June 4.

Along with captain Makoto Hasebe and Galatasaray left-back Yuto Nagatomo, the veteran quintet has a combined 502 caps to their names, meaning the Samurai Blue will not be lacking any experience in Russia next month.

However, a notable absentee is Gent forward Yuya Kubo, who was not selected despite featuring prominently throughout the qualification campaign.

Nishino, who only took over the reins in April following the departure of Vahid Halihodzic, could however call upon some youthful exuberance, with the likes of Naomichi Ueda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Kento Misao all chances to make the final cut.

Although a significant proportion of the Japan squad currently ply their trade in Europe, the J1 League is well represented with nine call-ups, including Kashima’s defensive duo Ueda and Gen Shoji, Cerezo Osaka anchorman Hotaru Yamaguchi and Urawa Red Diamonds centre-back Tomoaki Makino.

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (FC Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino, Wataru Endo (both Urawa Red Diamonds), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Olympique Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji, Naomichi Ueda (both Kashima Antlers)

Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Usami (both Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale), Kento Misao (Kashima Antlers), Yosuke Ideguchi (Cultural Leonesa)

Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz), Takuma Asano (Stuttgart)

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