Monday 10 May 2010

Kawaguchi given shock World Cup recall; Morimoto and Yano in but no place for Maeda or Kagawa

Japan national team coach Takeshi Okada announced his squad of 23 for the World Cup in South Africa on Monday, and there was one major shock in store as veteran goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi was recalled for what will be the fourth finals of his long career.

The 34-year-old has accumulated 116 caps since making his debut against Sweden back in 1997, but has not appeared for his country for the last two years and a broken leg suffered against Kyoto Sanga last September has prevented him from pulling on the gloves for club side Jubilo Iwata so far this season.

Okada, however, claimed that Kawaguchi’s fitness should not be a problem and stated that the reasons he was selected for the ‘difficult role of third-choice goalkeeper’ over the likes of 23-year-old Shusaku Nishikawa were his presence and calming influence on the squad’s younger players. Kawaguchi played in all three of Japan’s games at France ’98 and in Germany four years ago, and was back-up to current first choice Seigo Narazaki on home soil in 2002.

The biggest other surprise was the inclusion of Albirex Niigata striker Kisho Yano in place of either Ryoichi Maeda of Jubilo Iwata or Shinji Kagawa of Cerezo Osaka, both of whom have six J1 goals so far this season. Yano is yet to score in 11 appearances this campaign, but will travel to South Africa to add ‘strength and work rate’ to the Japanese attack.

Also included among the forwards was 22-year-old Takayuki Morimoto of Catania in Italy, while Daiki Iwamasa was rewarded for his fine form at J. League champions Kashima Antlers with the chance to add to his two caps in central defence.

The full squad of 23 is as follows:

Goalkeepers (3):
Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale), Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata)

Defenders (7):
Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F Marinos), Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Atsuto Uchida, Daiki Iwamasa (both Kashima Antlers), Yuto Nagatomo, Yasuyuki Konno (both FC Tokyo), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata)

Midfielders (8):
Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F Marinos), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Makoto Hasebe (VfL Wolfsburg), Junichi Inamoto, Kengo Nakamura (both Kawasaki Frontale), Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble)

Forwards (5):
Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania), Yoshito Okubo (Vissel Kobe), Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata)

Okada will name seven additional reserves on Wednesday, and has until the end of this month to make any changes in case of injury before the final list is submitted to FIFA.


In J. League news, J1 leaders Shimizu S-Pulse suffered their first defeat of 2010 as a resurgent Albirex Niigata recorded a shock 2-0 win at Nihondaira. First-half goals from Daigo Nishi and Michael were enough to secure a third straight victory for a Niigata side that had not won any of their opening eight league fixtures but now suddenly stand eighth in the table.

In a reduced programme of fixtures due to this week’s first knockout round matches in the AFC Champions League, Nagoya Grampus took best advantage of Shimizu’s slip-up with a dramatic 2-1 win at Vegalta Sendai. Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho looked to have rescued a point for the home side as his 84th-minute equaliser cancelled out Joshua Kennedy’s first half penalty, but the Australian forward struck again in stoppage time to take Grampus two points off the top in second.

Urawa Reds missed the chance to close the gap as they lost 3-2 at home to Yokohama F Marinos. Two fine goals from Kazuma Watanabe took the inconsistent Marinos back up to sixth in the league, with Urawa still five points off the pace in fourth. A wonder strike from Yoshito Okubo helped Vissel Kobe on their way to a 3-0 win over fellow strugglers Jubilo Iwata, while FC Tokyo cruised to a similar scoreline at Montedio Yamagata to register their first league victory since 28 March.

J1 results (matchday 11)
Urawa Reds 2-3 Yokohama F Marinos
Shimizu S-Pulse 0-2 Albirex Niigata
Vissel Kobe 3-0 Jubilo Iwata
Vegalta Sendai 1-2 Nagoya Grampus
Montedio Yamagata 0-3 FC Tokyo

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