Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has handed Yoshito Okubo the opportunity to resurrect his international career by naming the World Cup striker to a 25-man squad for the Feb. 24 friendly against Iceland in Osaka.
The Italian coach on Friday also gave first callups to five players, including 18-year-old striker Yuya Kubo of second-division Kyoto Sanga, for the warmup for Japan’s final third-round World Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, on Feb. 29.
Zaccheroni has only picked domestic players for next Friday’s game against the Scandinavians and is set to add his European-based stars in a revised squad on Feb. 25 for the Group C Uzbekistan clash.
The 29-year-old Okubo, one of the stars of the Japan team that reached the second round of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, has not played since Zaccheroni took over the reins from Takeshi Okada.
Kubo has been given the nod along with Kashima Antlers midfielder Gaku Shibasaki and another young prospect in Nagoya Grampus midfielder Ryota Isomura.
Striker Hidetaka Kanazono, who bagged an impressive 12 league goals for Jubilo Iwata last season, and Vegalta Sendai goalkeeper Takuto Hayashi have also been given the chance to win their first senior caps.