Samurai Blue veterans Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa were named to the country’s 27-man squad for their upcoming May 30 friendly against Ghana, the country’s last test before their final World Cup squad is announced.
The inclusion of the two superstars had been considered all but inevitable following last month’s shock dismissal of Vahid Halilhodzic and his replacement by current head coach Akira Nishino, who was expected to rely on Japan’s more experienced players.
They were joined by 15 other overseas-based players including SD Eibar’ midfielder Takashi Inui, the Fortuna Dusseldorf duo of Genki Haraguchi and Takashi Usami, and Leicester striker Shinji Okazaki.
Amongst the more surprising inclusions are Cultural Leonesa midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi, who has rarely played since his transfer to Leeds and subsequent loan to the Spanish side last fall, and Takuma Asano, who has spent the last two seasons at Stuttgart on loan from Arsenal.
Just 10 J.League players were selected for the provisional list, including established defender Tomoaki Makino, his Urawa Reds teammate Wataru Endo, and thrice-capped Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Ryota Oshima.
Nishino will announce his final squad for Russia on May 31, two days before the team departs for their pre-World Cup camp in Europe.
Samurai Blue squad for Ghana friendly
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima, Masaaki Higashiguchi, Kosuke Nakamura
Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo, Tomoaki Makino, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, Gotoku Sakai, Gen Shoji, Wataru Endo, Naomichi Ueda
Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe, Toshihiro Aoyama, Keisuke Honda, Takashi Inui, Shinji Kagawa, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Genki Haraguchi, Takashi Usami, Gaku Shibasaki, Ryota Oshima, Kento Misao, Yosuke Ideguchi
Forward: Shinji Okazaki, Yuya Osako, Yoshinori Muto, Takuma Asano