Japan announce squad for UAE 2019
Tokyo: Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu has announced his 23-player squad for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 next month, but has also dropped beteran Shinji Kagawa from the Samurai Blue outfit, opting instead for a team filled with young Europe-based talents.
Moriyasu selected several players with only a handful of caps to their names for Asia's showcase football tournament in the United Arab Emirates starting in January.
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The likes of Ritsu Doan (pictured below, left) of Groningen, Shoya Nakajima (pictured below, centre) of Portimonense and Takumi Minamino (pictured below, right) of Salzburg will lead Japan's bid for a record-extending fifth title.
But there was no place for midfielder Kagawa. He told Japanese media last month that he wished to move to Spain to take on a new challenge.
Moriyasu suggested he had been tempted to turn to veterans like Kagawa, but said he needed to pick players in their best form.
"Of course, I wanted help from experienced players, those who went to the FIFA World Cup and those who have led Japan for years," Moriyasu said.
"Many of the players whom we selected at this time have only limited experience. I have chosen them with hopes that they would take the ownership of the team and build the national team themselves and fight for the title," he said.
However, the young squad will be supported by Werder Bremen striker Yuya Osako (pictured below, left) and Galatasaray defender Yuto Nagatomo (pictured below, right), both veterans of past World Cups.
Japan won the AFC Asian Cup in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011, but failed in the last edition, won by Australia in 2015.
"Japan's national team did not win the title last time. We will reclaim the Asian Cup and bring back the title," Moriyasu said.
Drawn into Group F, the Samurai Blue will open their UAE 2019 campaign against Turkmenistan on January 9 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Japan squad: Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka/JPN), Shuichi Gonda (Sagan Tosu/JPN), Daniel Schmidt (Vegalta Sendai/JPN), Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray/TUR), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Red Diamonds/JPN), Maya Yoshida (Southampton/ENG), Sho Sasaki (Sanfrecce Hiroshima/JPN), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille/FRA), Sei Muroya (FC Tokyo/JPN), Genta Miura (Gamba Osaka/JPN), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Sint-Truiden/BEL), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima/JPN), Genki Haraguchi (Hannover96/GER), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe/ESP), Wataru Endo (Sint-Truiden/BEL), Junya Ito (Kashiwa Reysol/JPN), Shoya Nakajima (Portimonense/POR), Takumi Minamino (Salzburg/AUT), Hidemasa Morita (Kawasaki Frontale/JPN), Ritsu Doan (FC Groningen/NED), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen/GER), Takuma Asano (Hannover96/GER), Koya Kitagawa (Shimizu S-Pulse/JPN)
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