Okada calls up in-form attackers for October series


Japan coach Takeshi Okada on Thursday called up three in-form strikers – in addition to six Europe-based players – to his squad for a three-match series of matches later this month.

Japan has an Asian Cup qualifier against Hong Kong next Thursday in Shizuoka, followed by friendly games against Scotland on October 10 in Yokohama and Togo on October 14 in Miyagi.
FC Tokyo midfielder Naohiro Ishikawa, who has scored 13 goals in the J. League this year, returned to the national squad for the first time since February 2004, while forwards Ryoichi Maeda of Jubilo Iwata and Shinji Okazaki of Shimizu S-Pulse retained their places from last month’s European tour. Maeda has struck a league-leading 14 goals to Okazaki’s 12 in the J. League this year.
From Europe, Catania forward Takahiro Morimoto was offered another chance after being forced to skip the two-game friendly series against the Netherlands and Ghana last month due to injury.
Grenoble midfielder Daisuke Matsui also made a return after recovering from nagging injuries and will be joined in the squad by Espanyol midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, Wolfsburg midfielder Makoto Hasebe, Stade Rennais midfielder Junichi Inamoto and VVV Venlo midfielder Keisuke Honda.
Shimizu defender Keisuke Iwashita and teammate goalkeeper Kaito Yamamoto have been called up for the first time, while Oita Trinita goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, Tokyo defender Yuhei Tokunaga and Sanfrecce Hiroshima striker Hisato Sato returned to the squad.
Okada said, “In these three matches, I’d like to work on strengthening our players while testing some new players.
“Some aspects of our opponents’ style of play are unknown, but since these are home games, we’d like go all-out for victories and show what we can do.”
Asked about Hong Kong, Okada commented, “They have changed a lot under their Korean coach and are using different players from before. They can compete harder and it won’t be an easy game at all. We’ve got to play at our best.”
Okada added: “I was hoping Scotland would come here after qualifying for the World Cup, but they weren’t able to do that. I don’t know what kind of squad they will have for the game, but I don’t think they will change their playing style.
“In the game against Togo, I hope we can check those aspects of our game that weren’t good in the game against Ghana.”

The Japan-Hong Kong qualifier will be held at Outsourcing Stadium in Shizuoka and the Japan-Scotland friendly will take place at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. Both matches will kick off at 7:20 p.m. The Japan-Togo match will start at 7:30 p.m. at Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi Prefecture. Tickets are still available for these matches.

Goalkeepers—Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Kaito Yamamoto (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shusaku Nishikawa (Oita Trinita)
Defenders—Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F. Marinos), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Urawa Reds), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuhei Tokunaga (FC Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Keisuke Iwashita (Shimizu S-Pulse), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers)
Midfielders—Shunsuke Nakamura (RCD Espanyol), Hideo Hashimoto (Gamba Osaka), Junichi Inamoto (Stade Rennais FC), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble), Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo), Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg), Keisuke Honda (VVV Venlo)
Forwards—Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo Iwata), Hisato Sato (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Yoshito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania)
Coach—Takeshi Okada