The new domestic season in Japan opens this weekend with a host of players competing for selection in Alberto Zaccheroni’s Brazil 2014 squad, while the nation's professional ranks continue to grow at an impressive pace.
We preview the upcoming birthdays in the world of football, with a Belgian legend, a Japanese veteran, a Turkish playmaker and a mercurial Slovenian talent all celebrating this week.
Though now in the veteran class creative midfielder Yasuhito Endo remains an important cog for Japan as they seek success at Brazil 2014. Here Endo tells FIFA.com of his desire for continual improvement, hopes for Brazil and more.
Japan came from behind to defeat Ghana 3-1 in a friendly in Yokohama, with Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa scoring a superb individual goal.
Second-half goals from Keisuke Honda, Masato Kudo and Yasuhito Endo have inspired Japan to a 3-0 friendly win over Guatemala.
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored twice in the second-half to lift Mexico to a 2-1 win over Japan in their final FIFA Confederations Cup match, to ensure El Tri left Brazil with points on the board.