Okada gives youth a chance
Japan coach Takeshi Okada has opted for a youthful squad to face Yemen in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier on 6 January in Sana'a.
Of the 19-man group announced by the JFA, a total of 13 players received their first call-up to the senior national team, including Nagoya Grampus defender Maya Yoshida, Yokohama F. Marinos forward Kazuma Watanabe and FC Tokyo forward Sota Hirayama.
Urawa Reds midfielder Naoki Yamada, who scored twice to help the Japan Under-20 side beat South Korea in a friendly on Saturday, was also named.
However, Gamba Osaka midfielder Yasuhito Endo, Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Kengo Nakamura or Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa were all left out.
"This is a selection to collect three points and I have to rest the (regular) players having looked at the schedule ahead of the World Cup," Okada said.
The squad will get together on 1 January in Osaka before flying to Yemen.