• Kyodo News


Japan Under-22 coach Yasuharu Sorimachi on Thursday named Sota Hirayama and Hiroki Mizumoto to an unchanged squad for next Wednesday’s Beijing Olympic qualifier away to Malaysia.

Sorimachi has decided to keep faith with the 18-man group that got Japan’s campaign for next year’s Olympics off to a winning start with an untidy 3-0 defeat of Hong Kong last month.

“We played our first game against Hong Kong at home and achieved our goal to gain three points. We must play in severe circumstances in our first away game against Malaysia,” Sorimachi said.

“I hope we can play a good game and gain a good result by showing passion and pride as the representatives of Japan.”

Japan leads second-round Group B on goal difference ahead of Syria, who beat Malaysia 3-1 in their first match.

The top two teams advance to the final round scheduled to be held between Aug. 22 and Nov. 21. Only the winners of each of three four-team groups in the final round will qualify for Beijing.

In the squad, goalkeepers are Kenya Matsui (Jubilo Iwata) and Akihiro Hayashi (Ryutsu Keizai University)

Defenders are Yugo Ichiyanagi (Tokyo Verdy), Masahiko Inoha (FC Tokyo), Hiroki Mizumoto (JEF United Chiba) and Naoaki Aoyama (Shimizu S-Pulse)

Midfielders are Takuya Honda (Hosei University), Chikashi Masuda (Kashima Antlers), Hiroyuki Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Koki Mizuno (JEF United Chiba), Yohei Kajiyama (FC Tokyo), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Kota Ueda (Jubilo Iwata), Akihiro Ienaga (Gamba Osaka) and Keisuke Honda (Nagoya Grampus Eight)

Forwards are Sota Hirayama (FC Tokyo), Robert Cullen (Jubilo Iwata) and Tadanari Ri (Kashiwa Reysol).

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