Ogasawara earns Japan recall
© AFP

Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara has been called up to Japan's national team for the first time since the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ after coach Takeshi Okada announced his squad for next month's friendly against Venezuela.

Ogasawara helped guide Antlers to a third straight league title last season and his performances were impressive enough to earn him the 2009 J. League Player of the Year accolade. The decision to bring the 30-year-old back into the international frame could open the door for Ogasawara to earn a place in the squad for the World Cup this year and Okada is keen for the player to make the most of his chance.

"We know his abilities very well," said Okada. "It was just a matter of timing with regards to his call-up. I would like to play him as attacking midfielder rather than a defensive one like he plays for his club and I hope he can show his presence in the team."

Japan's Europe-based players have not been included due to their club commitments.

Squad: Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima); Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F. Marinos), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuhei Tokunaga (FC Tokyo), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers), Taisuke Muramatsu (Shonan Bellmare); Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo), Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Yoshito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Mu Kanazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo Osaka); Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Hisato Sato (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Sota Hirayama (FC Tokyo), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shinzo Koroki (Kashima Antlers).