Honda, Kagawa selected for World Cup tuneup against New Zealand


Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni on Thursday named AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa to a 23-man squad for the Asian champions’ upcoming World Cup warmup at home to New Zealand.

With Schalke defender Atsuto Uchida and captain Makoto Hasebe of Nuremberg injured, there were recalls for Jubilo Iwata defender Yuichi Komano and Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Toshihiro Aoyama for the national team’s first match of the World Cup year on March 5.

Kashiwa Reysol striker Masato Kudo is also back in the squad for what will be the national team’s last match at National Stadium before it is demolished and rebuilt for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“New Zealand are a physical team and will be good opponents,” said Zaccheroni. “I want to check on all the things we have been doing over the last three years.”

“The last game for us (in Japan before the World Cup) is in May so March will be very important.”

Japan play Cyprus on May 27 before leaving for the World Cup finals in Brazil, where they have been drawn in the first round against Greece, Ivory Coast and Colombia.