Kagawa named in Japan squad

  • Last Updated: May 12 2014, 17:07 BST

Man United midfielder Shinji Kagawa and Southampton defender Maya Yoshida have been included in Japan's World Cup squad.

Shinji Kagawa: Manchester United midfielder heading for Brazil
Shinji Kagawa: Manchester United midfielder heading for Brazil

Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa has been included in Japan's 23-man squad for the World Cup.

Kagawa has struggled to win a regular starting spot at Old Trafford since his move from Borussia Dortmund in June 2012, but Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has still named him in his party for Brazil this summer.

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida, who has not featured for the Premier League side since February due to a knee problem, is also among 12 Europe-based players selected by Zaccheroni.

AC Milan midfielder Keisuke Honda has also been included along with Mainz forward Shinji Okazaki.

"Shinji is an impact player for Japan. He always does the job asked," said Zaccheroni.

"Honda, we know, has the character and power to grab the team by the scruff of the neck. We hope he can do the same again."

Joining them are veteran forward Yoshito Okubo, who played for Japan in South Africa four years ago and has scored eight goals this season for J-League club Kawasaki Frontale.

The 31-year-old has only had one 45-minute outing for Japan in a 2012 friendly win over Iceland since Italian Zaccheroni took charge.

Yohei Toyoda, who has scored seven times for Sagan Tosu this season, was the man to miss out, while Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama was another surprise inclusion at the expense of Hertha Berlin's Hajime Hosogai.

Captain Makoto Hasebe was selected after returning to action for FC Nuremberg at the weekend after a lengthy knee injury.

Japan, who co-hosted the World Cup with South Korea in 2002, are preparing for their fifth consecutive World Cup campaign and face Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia in Group C.

Zaccheroni said: "We need to make sure our conditioning is perfect. I don't wish to make concrete predictions, and if we lose we'll take it on the chin.

"But if we play to our potential we have a chance. We're positive. Let's see how far it takes us."

Japan squad: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover 96), Gotoku Sakai (VfB Stuttgart), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Makoto Hasebe (FC Nuremberg), Hiroshi Kiyotake (FC Nuremberg), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Yuya Osako (TSV Munich 1860), Yoshito Okubo (Kawasaki Frontale)


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