The Japan Football Association on Thursday released a list of 28 players who will participate in next week’s national team training camp.
The two-day camp in Chiba will allow coach Vahid Halilhodzic to spend time with players based in the country’s J-League. The 62-year-old tactician is scheduled to return this weekend from Europe, where he has met with Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, and other Samurai Blue stars.
Notable amongst the list is striker Yoshito Okubo, who at nearly 33 is the oldest of 51 players called up by Halilhodzic since assuming his post in March. The Kawasaki Frontale veteran, who was a surprise inclusion in Alberto Zaccheroni’s 2014 World Cup squad, will turn 36 just before the start of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“He’s producing results for his club and deserves a call-up,” JFA technical director Masahiro Shimoda said of Okubo, who recently overtook legend Kazuyoshi Miura for fourth place on the all-time J1 League scoring chart.
Okubo will be joined by Frontale teammates Kenyu Sugimoto and Shogo Taniguchi, who are amongst seven players to receive their first call-up.
Gamba Osaka goal machine Takashi Usami, who made his senior debut under Halilhodzic in March, and Mainz target Yoshinori Muto also received invites.
The list, which features just seven players with more than 10 international caps, is an early indication of the squad Japan could field in August’s East Asian Cup, where they will be looking to defend their 2013 title against hosts China, South Korea, and North Korea.