Halilhodzic hints at Japan recall for Okubo

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yoshito okubo

Kawasaki Frontale’s two-time World Cup striker could be in line for a recall to the national team, coach Vahid Halilhodzic said on Wednesday.

Okubo, who has not played for Japan since the 2014 World Cup, became the J. League’s career leading scorer with 159 goals last weekend after netting a stoppage-time winner for J1 leader Kawasaki against Sagan Tosu.

While Halilhodzic on Wednesday stopped short of saying he would definitely call up Okubo for the Kirin Cup in June, the Bosnian did say the 33-year-old firebrand is worthy of being on the national side.

“Someone like Okubo deserves to be on the team,” Halilhodzic said of the league’s top goal-scorer the last three seasons. “He may be approaching 34 but he continues to score. He has contributed to the national team in the past and gets the job done in the league.

“I may call up 25, 26 players. There could be opportunities for those I haven’t picked before.”

A night after the Asian draw for the World Cup final qualifiers, the Japan Football Association announced Halilhodzic’s side will play Bulgaria on June 3 in the Kirin Cup at Toyota Stadium, where Bosnia-Herzegovina and Denmark will also face off.

The winners of the two games will meet four days later at Osaka’s Suita Stadium for the Kirin Cup title. The four-way mini-tournament will be the last tune-up for Japan before hosting the United Arab Emirates on Sept. 1 in its opening World Cup qualifier.

Via: Japan Times