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Sawa, Miyama selected for Nadeshiko squad at Asian Cup

Kyodo

Former Women’s World Player of the Year Homare Sawa and captain Aya Miyama were named on Friday to Nadeshiko Japan’s squad for the upcoming Asian Cup in Vietnam.

The reigning women’s world champions also have Hikaru Naomoto and three other uncapped players in the 23-strong squad for the tournament that doubles as a qualifier for next year’s World Cup in Canada.

Arsenal’s Saki Kumagai and Shinobu Ono of Lyon were left out by manager Norio Sasaki.

Sasaki’s team play New Zealand in a warm-up in Osaka on Thursday ahead of its Group A opener on May 14 against defending champion Australia.

Japan, which lost to Australia in the semifinals in 2010 before its historic World Cup triumph in Germany a year later, then faces host Vietnam on May 16 and Jordan two days later.

China, South Korea, Thailand and Myanmar make up Group B. The top five teams earn qualification for Canada.

Traditionally strong North Korea will not be competing at the Asian Cup because of doping violations at the 2011 Women’s World Cup.