A combative central defender who can also play in wider positions, Yuzo Kurihara first represented Japan in August 2006 but has been unable to cement a spot in the senior international side. By contrast, he has become an increasingly influential player at Yokohama F Marinos, where he has been a mainstay since 2002.


Kurihara missed selection for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, and has Southampton’s Maya Yoshida and Gamba Osaka’s Yasuyuki Konno blocking his way to more time playing in the national side. Efficient at closing down opposition strikers and capable of making surging runs when in space down the wings, Kurihara has appeared more often in the national squad since Alberto Zaccheroni became coach. He scored his first international goal during an AFC qualifier for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.


His fiery temperament and unwillingness to back down to any opponent has led to some heated moments against Australia and Trinidad and Tobago. If Kurihara gets on the field at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, his match-ups against top-class strikers such as Brazil’s Neymar will be ones to watch.