Japan calls in the big guns for Socceroos clash
JAPAN has named a strong team for its World Cup qualifier against the Socceroos on Thursday night in Saitama.
The Samurai Blue squad features Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa, CF Pachuca's Kiesuke Honda, Leicester's Shinji Okazaki, Inter's Yuto Nagatomo and Southampton's Maya Yoshida.
"I hear the recent criticism directed my way and it puts pressure on me but this is the kind of situation I like,” under-fire Japan boss Vahid Halilhodzic said while unveiling his 27-man squad.
"The more I come under attack and the more criticism I face, the more determined I am to respond.”
Japan is a point ahead of Australia and Saudi Arabia in Group B. Only two teams will get automatic qualification slots, so a loss in Saitama for either side could send it to the dreaded playoffs.
Japan squad: Goalkeepers: Kawashima Eiji (Football Club de Metz/France), Higashiguchi Masaaki (Gamba Osaka), Nakamura Kosuke (Kashiwa Reysol)
Defenders: Nagatomo Yuto (FC Internazionale Milano/Italy), Makino Tomoaki (Urawa Red Diamonds), Yoshida Maya (Southampton FC/England), Sakai Hiroki (Olympique de Marseille/France), Sakai Gotoku (Hamburger Sport-Verein/Germany), Shoji Gen (Kashima Antlers), Ueda Naomichi (Kashima Antlers), Miura Genta (Gamba Osaka)
Midfielders: Hasebe Makoto (Eintracht Frankfurt/Germany), Takahagi Yojiro (FC Tokyo), Kagawa Shinji (Borussia Dortmund/Germany), Yamaguchi Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka), Kobayashi Yuki (SC Heerenveen/Netherlands), Shibasaki Gaku (Getafe CF/Spain), Ideguchi Yosuke (Gamba Osaka)
Forwards: Okazaki Shinji (Leicester City Football Club/England), Honda Keisuke (CF Pachuca/Mexico), Inui Takashi (SD Eibar/Spain), Osako Yuya (1 FC Koln/Germany), Haraguchi Genki (Hertha BSC Berlin/Germany), Muto Yoshinori (1 FSV Mainz 05/Germany), Sugimoto Kenyu (Cerezo Osaka), Kubo Yuya (KAA Gent/Belgium), Asano Takuma (VFB Stuttgart/Germany)