Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni on Thursday brought Kawasaki Frontale midfielder Kengo Nakamura in from the cold for the upcoming 2014 World Cup qualifiers against North Korea and Uzbekistan and also handed Urawa Reds’ Genki Haraguchi the chance to make his senior national team debut.
But there was no place in the 23-man squad for Real Mallorca’s Akihiro Ienaga and Daisuke Matsui of Dijon, while Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo has been left out as he continues his recovery from a dislocated right shoulder.
Japan kicks off its qualifying campaign for Brazil against North Korea in Saitama on Sept. 2 before traveling to Tashkent to play the Uzbeks in its second Group C game four days later.
Nakamura has not played for the Blue Samurai since winning his 52nd cap in the 0-0 draw with South Korea last October, but Zaccheroni said the 30-year-old deserved to be back in the fold after a series of strong performances in the J. League.
“Nakamura was out of condition for a while but he has come back and shown some quality performances and is sharp both mentally and physically. That is why I have recalled him and he fully deserves it,” said the Italian.
“He is a high quality experienced player and is a great passer of the ball and even though he is 30 he is showing that he still has ambition.”
Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow and Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa, who scored twice against South Korea in the 3-0 win on his return to the team, were among 12 Europe-based players in the squad but Nagatomo was left out as he has yet to play for Inter since dislocating his shoulder at the end of last month in a preseason friendly against Celtic in Dublin.