Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni believes upcoming friendlies against France and Brazil will show the Blue Samurai the way to go as he dreams of presenting them as serious contenders at the 2014 FIFA World Cup ™.
The Italian tactician called up 23 regulars, including 13 Europe-based players such as Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa and CSKA Moscow playmaker Keisuke Honda to face France, whom Japan have never beaten.
Japan, four-time Asian champions, will play Les Bleus at the Stade de France in Paris on 12 October and Brazil in Wrocklaw, Poland, four days later.
Striker Ryo Miyaichi, on loan to Wigan Athletic from Arsenal, was also in the squad, which was announced on Thursday.
"By playing against strong teams that lead Europe and South America, I hope we can gain valuable experience of international-level battles that will help us grow further," Zaccheroni said in a press release.
"There are more players I wanted to call up who are not in the squad. That I have so many options shows how high the quality of Japanese football is now."
Japan, aiming for a fifth straight FIFA World Cup since their debut at France 1998, are leading Asia's Group B with ten points from three wins and one draw. They will play their next qualifier away to Oman on 14 November.
Zaccheroni, who coached AC Milan and other Serie-A sides, took over the Blue Samurai after they reached the last 16 at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
After helping Japan to a record fourth Asian Cup title in January last year, he said he wanted to help Japan qualify for Brazil 2014 and "fight as a team capable of vying for the top spot there."
"I got the impression that France are a team well-balanced between technical and physical aspects," he said in the press release.
"They have made a wonderful start under the stewardship of (Didier) Deschamps. Together with Paris Saint-Germain's strong showing, French football itself appears to be regaining an important position in Europe," Zaccheroni said.
"As for Brazil, they are a team so rich with ideas and high-quality techniques that there is no need to say anything more about them."