Zaccheroni names full-strength squad for Venezuela friendly


New Manchester United signing Shinji Kagawa and Inter Milan’s Yuto Nagatomo have been named in Japan’s 23-strong squad for a friendly against Venezuela later this month in Sapporo, the Japan Football Association said Thursday.

Also joining Alberto Zaccheroni’s side for the match at Sapporo Dome on Aug. 15, a warmup for Japan’s World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Saitama on Sept. 11, is CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda.

“Venezuela are strong as they finished fourth in the Copa America. I want to have good players for this match,” said Zaccheroni. “The South American teams don’t play half-hearted even in warmup matches, so this will be a good test case for us looking ahead at the World Cup final qualifiers.”

VVV Venlo’s Maya Yoshida, Stuttgart’s Gotoku Sakai, and FC Tokyo goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda have been selected from Japan’s squad taking part in the ongoing London Olympics.

FC Nuremberg attacking midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hannover 96 defender Hiroki Sakai did not receive callups due to consideration of injuries and fatigue.

Gamba Osaka’s Yasuyuki Konno, Schalke 04’s Atsuto Uchida, and Yokohama F. Marinos’ Yuzo Kurihara, who will miss the Iraq match through suspension, were left out of the squad for the Sapporo friendly.

Japan will also play the United Arab Emirates in a friendly on Sept. 6 as a warmup for the Iraq qualifier.