Coach Makoto Teguramori on Friday named a party of 21 for next month’s Under-23 Asian Championship in Qatar, where Japan will aim to qualify for their sixth consecutive Olympics.
Teguramori, whose side were held to a pair of 0-0 draws by Yemen and Uzbekistan on a Middle Eastern tour last week, will fill out the squad with two more players after a Dec. 22-30 training camp in Okinawa.
The usual suspects graced Teguramori’s list such as defenders Takuya Iwanami and Naomichi Ueda, midfielder Ryota Oshima and forwards Takuma Asano and Musashi Suzuki.
Young Boys striker Yuya Kubo and Salzburg midfielder Takumi Minamino were the only two Europe-based players to make the cut. Teguramori has handed the armband once again to Shonan Bellmare’s Wataru Endo, who is reportedly on the move to Urawa Reds next season after being pursued by seven J-League clubs.
Teguramori raved about the leadership of Endo, who is already one of the tried-and-trusted players of senior national coach Vahid Halilhodzic.
“He’s one of the oldest players of his generation and has the best track record in the J-League of them all,” Teguramori said. “He’s been the captain at every age group but hasn’t played on the world stage yet so he’s hungry for it.”
“He has a natural ability to lead. He can shepherd the group and not have to get in anyone’s face about it. I should probably take tips from him myself.”
Goalkeepers – Masatoshi Kushibiki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Daichi Sugimoto (Kyoto Sanga), Kosuke Nakamura (Avispa Fukuoka)
Defenders – Ken Matsubara (Albirex Niigata), Ryosuke Yamanaka (Kashiwa Reysol), Masashi Kamekawa (Fukuoka), Tatsuki Nara (FC Tokyo), Sei Muroya (Meiji University), Takuya Iwanami (Vissel Kobe), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
Midfielders – Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki Frontale), Wataru Endo (Shonan Bellmare), Riki Harakawa (Kyoto), Shinya Yajima (Fagiano Okayama), Shoya Nakajima (FC Tokyo), Takumi Minamino (Salzburg), Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Forwards – Yuya Kubo (Young Boys), Musashi Suzuki (Mito Hollyhock), Takuma Asano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Ado Onaiu (JEF United Chiba)
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