Halilhodzic earmarks Havenaar for Japan return

Kyodo

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has hinted ADO Den Haag forward Mike Havenaar is in line for a recall to the national side.

Halilhodzic, who is currently on a scouting tour through Europe, said Monday that he spoke to the out-of-favor Japan international following Saturday’s 2-2 home draw to Roda JC Kerkrade.

Havenaar did not score while putting in a full shift, but is the fifth-top scorer in the Dutch first division with 11 goals from 18 league games and it appears Halilhodzic will take a look at the 194-cm target man for next month’s World Cup qualifiers at home to Syria and Afghanistan.

“I met him in person after the game,” Halilhodzic said in comments released through the Japan Football Association. “He told me how he wants to keep improving as a footballer and how he feels about playing for the national team.

“No one is guaranteed a place and everyone has to fight for it, but Mike’s height would give the team a new option so I hope he makes the most of any future opportunities.”

Havenaar has 17 caps with four goals for his country and was a frequent call-up of former Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni, but failed to make the cut for the 2014 World Cup.