Yokohama F. Marinos midfielder Koji Yamase and Albirex Niigata striker Kisho Yano both won recalls as national team manager Takeshi Okada on Monday named a 20-man squad for the team’s upcoming World Cup warmup against Serbia in Osaka.
Yamase was last called up for national team duty in August 2008 while Yano returns to the fold for the first time since last June. Twenty-one-year-old Fukuoka University striker Kensuke Nagai was also picked for the April 7 friendly at Nagai Stadium.
Okada only has Japan-based players at his disposal for the last match before selecting his final squad for this summer’s World Cup finals in South Africa.
Yokohama F. Marinos playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura and defender and club teammate Yuzo Kurihara were also named but Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara and towering FC Tokyo striker Sota Hirayama were both overlooked.
“I have selected players that haven’t really had a chance so far,” said Okada. “But that doesn’t in any way mean the players I haven’t picked have no chance of going to the World Cup.”
Okada is expected to name his World Cup squad in mid-May.
Japan faces bitter rival South Korea on May 24 at Saitama Stadium 2002 in a send-off match before the team leaves for a pre-World Cup training camp in Switzerland.
Japan then squares off against England on May 30 in Austria before taking on Cote d’Ivoire in Switzerland on June 4, which will provide Okada’s men with the opportunity to take on African opponents before they face Cameroon in their World Cup opener on June 14.
Japan has also been drawn against the Netherlands and Denmark in Group E.