Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni called up five new players for a friendly against Iceland next week in preparation for a FIFA World Cup™ qualifier later this month.
"I called up those who have never been named before because... they have the potential to represent Japan in the future," the Italian coach told reporters on Friday. "It is a very good opportunity to watch these players closely for the first time," he added.
Japan's Europe-based players, led by CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda and Borussia Dortmund striker Shinji Kagawa, cannot be obliged to play for the national side in friendlies and so are absent for the Iceland match.
The new players were Vegalta Sendai goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi, midfielders Ryota Isomura (Nagoya Grampus) and Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers), along with forwards Hidetaka Kanazono (Jubilo Iwata) and Yuya Kubo (Kyoto Sanga).
Kubo is only 18 and has not yet been selected for the U-23 national team, so was surprised to be picked for the senior squad. "I feel honoured to be chosen for the team. I'm going to prepare in training, hoping that I will be able to play in the game," said the forward.
Japan and Iceland will play at the Nagai stadium in Osaka next Friday, and the hosts will follow with a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan at the Toyota stadium in central Japan on 29 February.
Goalkeepers: Takuto Hayashi (Vegalta Sendai), Kaito Yamamoto (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Defenders: Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuzo Kurihara (Yokohama Marinos), Naoya Kondo (Kashiwa Reysol), Masahiko Inoha (Vissel Kobe), Ryota Moriwaki (Hiroshima), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Red Diamonds)
Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Yuki Abe (Urawa), Chikashi Masuda (Kashima), Yosuke Kashiwagi (Urawa), Ryota Isomura (Nagoya Grampus), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima)
Forwards: Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo), Ryoichi Maeda (Iwata), Yoshito Okubo (Kobe), Jungo Fujimoto (Nagoya), Junya Tanaka (Kashiwa), Hidetaka Kanazono (Iwata), Yuya Kubo (Kyoto Sanga)