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Soccer: Japan name J-League based 22-man squad for Jan. Uzbekistan friendly

Soccer Football - World Cup - Round of 16 - Belgium vs Japan - Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don, Russia - July 2, 2018 Japan players pose for a team group photo before the match REUTERS/Marko Djurica
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mainichi– Japan on Tuesday announced an entirely J-League based 22-man squad for the Jan. 21 friendly at home against Uzbekistan, a warm-up match ahead of their two home Asian World Cup qualifiers against China and Group B leaders Saudi Arabia.

Manager Hajime Moriyasu named veterans with European experience in Vissel Kobe forwards Yuya Osako and Yoshinori Muto as well as full-backs Yuto Nagatomo of FC Tokyo and Hiroki Sakai of Urawa Reds, while handing four players their first senior call-ups.

They include the new J1 young player of the year Ryotaro Araki, a 19-year-old Kashima Antlers attacker who scored 10 J-League top-flight goals this term to become only the second player to reach double figures in a season before turning 20.

The other three new call-ups were Consadole Sapporo forward Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa and Cerezo Osaka defenders Ayumu Seko and Ryuya Nishio.

“I’m really looking forward to managing the Japan team made up of domestic players,” said Moriyasu, whose team sit second in their World Cup qualifying group. “I want them to show there are still many good players waiting in the wings.”

“Hopefully we can make people feel that Japan has more squad depth and got stronger.”

J1 joint top scorer Daizen Maeda of Yokohama F Marinos and champions Kawasaki Frontale’s utility man Reo Hatate, both linked with a January move to Celtic, also made the squad.

Replacements will be called up from the J-League clubs should Maeda, Hatate or any other members of the squad seal transfers overseas ahead of the friendly at Saitama Stadium.

The Japan Football Association said the home qualifiers against China on Jan. 27 and Saudi Arabia on Feb. 1 will be held at the same venue.