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Oguro keen to strengthen World Cup case

Kyodo

Masashi Oguro is hoping for a chance to further strengthen his case for making Japan’s final World Cup squad when the Asian champions take on Bosnia in a friendly in Germany on Tuesday.

News photoJapan midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata competes for the ball during the national team’s training session in Bonn, prior to Japan’s friendly against Bosnia.

Oguro, who has only managed one goal for Grenoble since joining the French second-division side from Gamba Osaka last month, is among eight European-based players coach Zico has called up for the World Cup build-up match in Dortmund.

Tuesday’s match will provide Zico with a final chance to look at his Euro stars before Japan move to their base camp in Bonn just before the finals.

The Brazilian looks more likely to start Messina’s Atsushi Yanagisawa or German-based striker Naohiro Takahara up front with resurgent Tatsuhiko Kubo but Oguro said he is raring to go.

“There are not many opportunities to have all the first-team regulars together so I understand what an important game this is,” Oguro told reporters after Sunday’s training session.

“We will only be here for a short period but I am focused and ready and if the coach plays me I will be going all out to repay him with a goal,” added the 25-year-old.

Takahara, Swiss-based Koji Nakata and English-based midfielders Hidetoshi Nakata and Junichi Inamoto are all set to join up with the squad for training on Monday.

Zico has used domestic players only in Japan’s three games so far this year.

After a 3-2 defeat to the United States, Japan eased past Finland 2-0 and made the perfect start to their Asian Cup defense with a 6-0 pounding of India in Yokohama on Wednesday in a Group A qualifier for the 2007 tournament.

After the Bosnia friendly, Japan continue their preparations for the World Cup with a friendly against fellow finalists Ecuador in Oita on March 30.

The Asian champions have been drawn in first-round Group F against Guus Hiddink’s Australia, Croatia and holders Brazil.