Kagawa returns to Japan squad for Latvia friendly
Manchester United attacker Kagawa Shinji returned to the Japan squad as coach Alberto Zaccheroni announced 23 players for the game against Latvia in a Kirin Challenge Cup friendly in Kobe on Wednesday.
Kagawa, who had to skip a World Cup qualifier in November due to an injury, was joined by attacker Honda Keisuke of CSKA Moscow, defender Nagatomo Yuto of Inter Milan and midfielder Endo Yasuhito of Gamba Osaka.
Forward Otsu Yuki of VVV Venlo, who scored three goals for Japan at last year’s London Olympics, won his first Japan call-up under Zaccheroni.
“The year 2013 is the most important year for the Japan national team,” said Zaccheroni, whose side can secure qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a win at Jordan in an AsianQualifiers Final Round on March 26.
“Our initial objective this year is to qualify for the World Cup, and we’d like to make the best preparation we can in the warm-up friendlies,” said the Italian boss.
Zaccheroni said the game against Latvia will serve as a “review” for his players on what they need to do.
“Unfortunately, our form is likely to be far from our ideal in this coming game as the J. League has yet to start in February and our Europe-based players will only be able to join us shortly before the game,” he commented. “But I want our players to make a review on what they need to do in the Japan team.”
The Japan-Latvia match is to kick off at 7:20 p.m. on February 6 at Homes Stadium in Kobe.
Goalkeepers—HAYASHI Takuto (Vegalta Sendai), KAWASHIMA Eiji (Standard Liege), GONDA Shuichi (FC Tokyo)
Defenders—KONNO Yasuyuki (Gamba Osaka), INOHA Masahiko (Jubilo Iwata), MIZUMOTO Hiroki (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), NAGATOMO Yuto (Inter Milan), UCHIDA Atsuto (FC Shalke 04), YOSHIDA Maya (Southampton), SAKAI Hiroki (Hanover 96), SAKAI Gotoku (VfB Stuttgart)
Midfielders—ENDO Yasuhito (Gamba Osaka), HASEBE Makoto (VfL Wolfsburg), HOSOGAI Hajime (Bayer Leverkusen), TAKAHASHI Hideto (FC Tokyo)
Forwards—MAEDA Ryoichi (Jubilo Iwata), OKAZAKI Shinji (VfB Stuttgart), HONDA Keisuke (CSKA Moscow), HAVENAAR Mike (SBV Vitesse), INUI Takashi (Eintracht Frankfurt), KAGAWA Shinji (Manchester United), KIYOTAKE Hiroshi (1.FC Nurnberg), OTSU Yuki (VVV Venlo)
Coach—Alberto ZACCHERONI (Italy)