Japan’s Under-23s will tune up for this summer’s Athens Olympics with home friendlies against Australia and Venezuela next month, the Japan Football Association said Wednesday.

Masakuni Yamamoto’s men will take on their Australian counterparts at Nagai Stadium in Osaka on July 25 before playing the Venezuelan senior national team at Tokyo’s National Stadium five days later.

Japan’s women’s team, which has also qualified for Athens, will take on Canada in a friendly on July 30, also at National Stadium.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will then leave for Europe for a training camp before heading to Athens.

Japan’s men’s squad, which will be aiming for a podium finish at the Olympics for the first time since capturing a bronze medal at the Mexico Games in 1968, will play Paraguay on Aug. 12, Italy on Aug. 15 and Ghana on Aug. 18.

The women, who earned an Olympic berth for only the second time, will play Sweden on Aug. 11 and Nigeria on Aug. 14.

Five bid for 2007 Asian Cup

KUALA LUMPUR (Kyodo) Five Southeast Asian countries have put in bids to host the 2007 Asian Cup, according to the Asian Football Confederation’s official Web site.

AFC general secretary Dato’ Peter Velappan said Tuesday that Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia have submitted bids to host the tournament in 2007.

The AFC will select a host at the end of the 2004 Asian Cup in China on Aug. 7.

FootballAsia.com quoted Velappan as saying that the possibility of co-hosting remains an option as Thailand has expressed an interest in teaming up with one of its ASEAN neighbors.

“We are looking at the possibility of a joint bid but it’s too early to tell. We are keeping the door open and will see how it goes,” Velappan said.

The AFC last month confirmed that Southeast Asia would host the tournament, which is being rotated throughout Asia’s four regions — West Asia, Central/South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia.

End of the line for Moriyama

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Former Japan striker Yasuyuki Moriyama has decided to bring his playing career to an end after being told he will not be given a renewed contract at J. League first-division club Nagoya Grampus Eight.

The 35-year-old Moriyama returned to Nagoya in February after a loan spell at second-division Consadole Sapporo but has failed to make a single appearance this season.

Moriyama, who played for Slovenian club Hit Gorica in 1998, has scored a total 66 goals in 214 league games. He made just one appearance for the Japan national team.

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