• Kyodo News

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Former Japan defender Akira Narahashi, who was a member of Japan’s squad when the country debuted at the World Cup in 1998 under current national coach Takeshi Okada, has decided to retire, soccer officials said Friday. The 36-year-old Narahashi, who played 10 seasons for Kashima Antlers in the J. League top flight from 1997, helped the club claim a total of eight crowns, including three league titles, three Nabisco Cups and two Emperor’s Cups. Narahashi, who was capped 38 times for Japan, made 310 appearances and scored 23 goals in the J. League first division.

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