Japan call on South Africa stars
Interim coach Hiromi Hara has called upon the majority of Japan's FIFA World Cup™ heroes for upcoming friendlies against Paraguay and Guatemala.
The Japan Football Association had hoped to have a replacement for Takeshi Okada, who led the Blue Samurai to the last 16 in South Africa, in place for the two matches.
However, negotiations have lasted longer than anticipated meaning JFA technical director Hara will take charge of the team for the time being.
CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda, Grenoble's Daisuke Matsui and Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka have all been named in the squad as well as Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima and Cesena defender Yuto Nagatomo.
Midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who joined Borussia Dortmund after the World Cup, also received a call up together with in-form Urawa Reds midfielder Hajime Hosogai and Shimizu S-Pulse midfielder Jungo Fujimoto.
Yuki Abe and Kiso Yario, who are negotiating moves with Leicester and Bundesliga side Freiburg, respectively, have been left out of the squad along with Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Junichi Inamoto and Yokohama F Marinos midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura.
"Since we have to play Paraguay and Guatemala with little preparation, we selected the players who are in good shape," said Hara, who also confirmed negotiations with three candidates are in the final stages.
Japan will play Paraguay in Yokohama on 4 September before tackling Guatemala in Osaka three days later.