The Japan American Football Association began the first step for the 2015 world championship in Stockholm, announcing the 85 candidates to make the national team on Monday night.
The Fujitsu Frontiers, who made the X Bowl last season, led the all X League teams with 18 players selected to the preliminary roster, followed by 15 from the Obic Seagulls, the four-time national champion. The Panasonic Impulse and the Lixil (formerly Kajima) Deers, two other teams that made the semifinals of the playoff tournament last year, have 14 and 13 members, respectively. Only three players were selected from the collegiate side.
The members will be reduced to about 60 on March 27 after three practice sessions and a 45-man final roster will be announced on April 3 after two more practices.
The national team, led by Lixil head coach Kiyoyuki Mori, will play an exhibition game against Germany on April 12 at Kawasaki Fujimi Stadium, formerly known as Kawasaki Stadium. Japan is set to play the Philippines two weeks later at Amino Vital Stadium in Chofu, Tokyo, for one of the two Asia berths for the worlds, which is scheduled for July 4-18, 2015.
Twelve nations are to take part in the Stockholm competition. It will be the fifth world championship held by the International Federation of American Football. Japan won the first two championships (1999 in Italy, and 2003 in Germany), although the United States and Canada, two big countries in American football, were idle in those two.
The United States, which joined the worlds in 2007, has won the title last two times.