Zaccheroni announces strong squad
© AFP

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has called up 14 European-based players for the squad to face Korea Republic in a friendly on 10 August in Sapporo.

Among those named were Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke's Atsuto Uchida, Keisuke Honda from CSKA Moscow and Daisuke Matsui, who recently signed for French club Dijon.

Jubilo Iwata defender Yuichi Komano, a member of Japan's 2010 FIFA World Cup™ team, returns to the Blue Samurai after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained last October, while Cerezo Osaka and Japan U-22 midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake won a first call-up to the senior side.

"This will be an important game for us before going into the World Cup qualifiers," said Zaccheroni.

Korea [Republic] are a wonderful side and whenever we play against them, it is always heated.
Alberto Zaccheroni, Japan coach

Since the Italian's arrival almost a year ago, Japan have played Korea Republic twice - drawing 0-0 in Seoul last October and winning on penalties after a 2-2 extra-time draw in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup semi-finals in January.

"Korea [Republic] are a wonderful side and whenever we play against them, it is always heated," Zaccheroni added.

"A team can grow through a tough serious game, and this will be a good one. It has been a while since we last played a game like that. I am hoping we can get our feeling back with this game before going into the qualifiers."

Japan are also scheduled to play Korea DPR at home on 2 September as final preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Japan squad:

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Lierse SK), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Albirex Niigata), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Defenders: Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yuzo Kurihara (Yokohama F Marinos), Masahiko Inoha (Hajduk Split), Tomoaki Makino (Cologne), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (VVV Venlo)
Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Yuki Abe (Leicester City), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg), Hajime Hosogai (Augsburg), Akihiro Ienaga (Real Mallorca), Yosuke Kashiwagi (Urawa Reds)
Forwards: Daisuke Matsui (Dijon), Tadanari Lee (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shinji Okazaki (Stuttgart), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Takayuki Morimoto (Novara), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Cerezo Osaka)