Monday 20 February 2012

Japan go experimental for Iceland friendly

Japan national team coach Alberto Zaccheroni will use Friday’s meeting with Iceland in Osaka as an opportunity to experiment with fully nine uncapped players named in a wholly domestic-based squad of 25.

18-year-old Yuya Kubo of J2 side Kyoto Sanga is the biggest surprise in a list that also sees first ever call-ups for fellow striker Hidetaka Kanazono of Jubilo Iwata, midfielders Ryota Isomura of Nagoya Grampus and Gaku Shibasaki of Kashima Antlers, and goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi of Vegalta Sendai.

Also hoping to make their international debuts after serving as unused squad members in the past are Naoya Kondo and Junya Tanaka – who won J1 championship medals with Kashiwa Reysol last term – as well as Kashima midfielder Chikashi Masuda and Shimizu S-Pulse custodian Kaito Yamamoto.

Meanwhile, veteran forwards Yoshito Okubo of Vissel Kobe and Naohiro Ishikawa of newly-promoted FC Tokyo both return to the full national squad for the first time since Zaccheroni took charge in 2010.

The match is Japan’s last scheduled friendly before the final round of Asian qualification for the 2014 World Cup kicks off in June. The Samurai Blue sealed their place with two third round matches to spare and host current Group C leaders Uzbekistan for a dead rubber in Toyota a week tomorrow.


One man hoping for an early chance at full international level in the Uzbekistan fixture is Ryo Miyaichi, who scored his first goal in English football on Saturday as Bolton Wanderers beat Millwall 2-0 in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

The 19-year-old was forced to remain patient as the opening half of the season yielded just two substitute appearances in the League Cup with Arsenal, but a loan switch to the Reebok Stadium on transfer deadline day has seen him immediately involved in Owen Coyle’s first team.

Named in the Trotters’ starting eleven for the first time after impressing on his Premier League debut against Wigan Athletic seven days earlier, Miyaichi needed just four minutes to stamp his impression on the cup tie. Sprinting onto a quick free kick from Sam Ricketts, Bolton’s number 30 cleverly cut across Millwall full-back Alan Dunne before firing an unstoppable shot into the far corner of the net.

Millwall 0-2 Bolton Wanderers (Miyaichi goal)

Japan Football Association technical director Hiromi Hara had informed the press on Friday that Miyaichi’s club had been contacted with regard to the forthcoming World Cup qualifier – for which Zaccheroni will be able to call upon his overseas-based players.

Takashi Usami, who once again sat on the Bayern Munich bench at the end of a week in which he reiterated his intention to leave the club this summer, is also on the standby list.

Hannover 96 4-2 VfB Stuttgart (Okazaki goal)

- In the Bundesliga, VfB Stuttgart slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Hannover 96 but Shinji Okazaki at least gave away fans one reason to smile with a spectacular overhead kick to complete the scoring on 79 minutes.
- In-form Shinji Kagawa is set to miss out for Japan after rolling an ankle in training with league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Thursday.
- Tadanari Lee scored his first goal in the English Championship to round off a comfortable 4-0 win for Southampton at home to Derby County.

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