Javier Aguirre on Wednesday announced his squad for Japan’s upcoming friendlies against Honduras and Australia, bringing several of the country’s World Cup players back into the fold.
The list of 23 players included Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida as well as Frankfurt midfielder Makoto Hasebe, both of whom had missed Aguirre’s earlier call-ups due to injury. Veteran midfielder and free kick specialist Yasuhito Endo as well as Gamba Osaka teammate Yasuyuki Konno could also make their first post-World Cup appearance for the Samurai Blue.
The return of several players favored by previous manager Alberto Zaccheroni appears to signify the conclusion of Aguirre’s “tryout period” as he looks to defend Japan’s Asian Cup title. With just one win from four matches, Aguirre’s tactics and player selections have already come under fire from Japanese football media still reeling from June’s World Cup defeat.
“We already have 80-90 percent of the team we need to defend the Asian Cup,” Aguirre told a press conference at the JFA House in downtown Tokyo. “These two matches will be very important in determining our squad.
“Honduras will play their best against us, and Australia are a side we’ll need to beat if we face them in the Asian Cup. They’re both around our level, so I want us to win these two matches and go to Australia with confidence.”
The Samurai Blue welcome Honduras to Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture on November 14th before facing Asian rivals Australia at Osaka’s Yanmar Stadium Nagai on November 18th. Both matches have sold out.
Japan squad for Honduras (November 14) and Australia (November 18) friendlies:
GK: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege/Belgium), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds)
DF: Masato Morishige, Kosuke Ota (both FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (FC Schalke 04) Maya Yoshida (Southampton FC), Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Gotoku Sakai (VfB Stuttgart), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers), Ken Matsubara (Albirex Niigata)
MF: Yasuhito Endo, Yasuyuki Konno (both Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Taishi Taguchi (Nagoya Grampus), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)
FW: Yohei Toyoda (Sagan Tosu), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz 05), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yu Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale), Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo)