Japan's under-fire coach Takeshi Okada pulled no surprises on Thursday as he called up three Europe-based players, including Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, for their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier against Qatar this month.
"I have selected members who understand the way this team plays and who are highly motivated to represent Japan with determination to win," Okada said of the 25-strong squad for the away match in Doha on 19 November.
The other Europe-based midfielders are Saint-Etienne's Daisuke Matsui, back from a one-match suspension, and Makoto Hasebe of VfL Wolfsburg.
Okada dropped Frankfurt midfielder Junichi Inamoto from the initial line-up as he is still nursing a thigh injury.
"I may call him up if his condition is proven perfect when Frankfurt play Dortmund on 15 November," the coach said.
The squad features no newcomers but four J.League players make a comeback to international duty, including Urawa Reds striker Tatsuya Tanaka and Gamba Osaka defender Michihiro Yasuda.
"Qatar players have individual skills and it will be tough if we are outdone in one-on-one situations," Okada said. "We cannot beat them if we don't outrun them."
The squad, minus the overseas-based players and players from AFC Champions League finalists Gamba Osaka, will face Syria in a friendly in Kobe on 13 November.
Okada, who took over from Ivica Osim when the Bosnian suffered a stroke a year ago for his second stint as national coach, has come under pressure after a run of uninspiring results.
Japan, who beat Bahrain 3-2 away in their opening qualifier, were held 1-1 by Group 1 underdogs Uzbekistan at home on 15 October, a week after a 1-1 friendly draw with the United Arab Emirates.
Japan are level with Qatar on four points, trailing Australia, who have a maximum six points. Bahrain and Uzbekistan have one point each.
Okada, who has been criticised for lacking an attacking strategy, is aware that his job may be on the line.When Japan Football Association president Motoaki Inukai said last month that he had no intention of sacking him, Okada said: "I don't know if he really meant that. I will do what I should, even if I may be thrown out next time."
Japan, the top-ranked Asian nation, have never beaten Qatar in their five previous encounters, having drawn two and lost three. They battled to a 1-1 draw in their AFC Asian Cup opening match in Hanoi last year when Japan failed to lift a third straight title.