Feyenoord midfielder Shinji Ono and teenage striker Sota Hirayama were included in Japan’s final squad for next month’s Athens Olympics, but Naohiro Takahara’s faint hopes of playing in Greece ended after he was omitted from the 18-man party named by the Japan Football Association on Friday.
Ono and Kashima Antlers goalkeeper Hitoshi Sogahata were picked as the “over-age” players, but there was more heartbreak for Takahara, who has been ruled out due to health concerns.
The JFA made a final decision not to send Takahara, who is recovering from a second bout of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), after being warned by doctors earlier this week of the negative impact the disorder would have on him at the Olympic tournament.
The former Boca Juniors and Jubilo Iwata striker helped Japan reach the quarterfinals of the soccer tournament at the 2000 Sydney Games, but missed the 2002 World Cup finals due to DVT, which is also known as economy class syndrome.
Towering Tsukuba University forward Hirayama, 19, was named among four strikers as was Cerezo Osaka’s Yoshito Okubo, who played a pivotal role in helping Japan book its Athens ticket.