Japan coach Akira Nishino has kept faith with his big guns after naming his 23-man squad for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Just a day after his first match at the helm ended in a 2-0 defeat to Ghana, Nishino fronted the media on Thursday afternoon and confirmed his final roster for Russia 2018.
There were no real shocks as star names Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki were all included, along with captain Makoto Hasebe, Southampton centre-back Maya Yoshida and Galatasaray left-back Yuto Nagatomo.
— サッカー日本代表 (@jfa_samuraiblue) May 31, 2018
The four unlucky players that were cut from the initial 27-man list are midfielders Yosuke Ideguchi, Kento Misao and Toshihiro Aoyama, and Arsenal’s on-loan striker Takuma Asano.
In particular, the omission of 21-year-old Ideguchi was most surprising given he had featured prominently in the qualification campaign, scoring a memorable solo goal in a victory over Australia along the way.
Another poor result by 🇯🇵 @jfa_samuraiblue in new coach Akira Nishino’s first game in charge…
— FOX Sports Asia (@FOXSportsAsia) May 30, 2018
It is a vastly-experienced squad that Nishino – who only took over from Vahid Halilhodzic in April – will have at his disposal, with the likes of Kagawa, Honda, Okazaki, Hasebe and Nagatomo combining for over 500 caps.
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), 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)
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz)