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Kashima Antlers manager Oswaldo Oliveira has tipped teenage striker Yuya Osako to play for Japan at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Osako only turned professional at the start of the year after a show-stopping performance for Kagoshima Josei at the national high school championships. But Oliveira believes the 18-year-old has already shown in his eight J. League appearances that he is capable of forcing his way into national team manager Takeshi Okada’s plans.

Asked on Saturday if Okada had inquired about Osako’s progress, the Brazilian said he had not, but “I think he will soon.”

“I think this player will be in the World Cup,” Oliveira said. “Pele played at the World Cup when he was 17.

“Here in Japan everybody says we don’t have strikers, but if he continues these performances he is a good bet. We have some players in Brazil who look like his style of play.

“He is not any better than I expected — that is why he starts the games.

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