The national champion Fujitsu Frontiers led the way with 21 players selected to Japan’s national team, it was revealed on Sunday, when the American Football Association of Japan announced the first provisional 81 candidates for this summer’s world championship.

The Obic Seagulls, the Frontiers’ archrivals, had the second-most players with 16, followed by 11 each from the Lixil Deers and the Panasonic Impulse.

Six players from the college level made the initial roster, which will be cut to 75 midway through May following the first of two minicamps scheduled for May 23-24 in Tokyo.

The roster will be reduced to 50 after the second minicamp (May 30-31) and finally cut to 45 by July 1, after two mini-camps and an exhibition game in Kawasaki.

“We have made this team in a way that’s different from building a team in the domestic league,” Japan coach Kiyoyuki Mori said. “Playing a game in the domestic leagues and playing foreign countries is very different. We selected players who are versatile and have the ability to adjust.”

The fifth world championship of American football takes place from July 8-19 in Canton, Ohio, which is also the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The eight participating nations are divided into two groups according to the International Federation of American Football rankings.

The top four nations, the United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico, are in Group A, while Group B consists of France, Australia, South Korea and Brazil in the order of rankings.

On Day 1, the No. 1 and No. 4 nations will play each other, while No. 2 takes on No. 3. The winners will then meet three days later.

On Day 3 on July 15, the fourth-placed team in Group A is demoted to Group B, and replaced by Group B’s top team. In each group, first-place team plays the fourth-place team, and second place and third place meet each other.

The top two teams in Group A advance to the final on July 18, while the other nations play in the consolation round.

Later Sunday afternoon, the provisional Japan team played exhibition games against the Frontiers and the Asahi Beer Silver Star, both Kawasaki-based clubs, at Fujitsu Stadium Kawasaki to celebrate the stadium’s re-opening after refurbishment. The stadium, which was formerly known as Kawasaki Stadium and once the base for baseball franchises including the Takahashi Unions, Taiyo Whales (now DeNA BayStars) and Lotte Orions (now Chiba Lotte Marines), finished its reconstruction earlier this year and debuted as a new multipurpose stadium on Sunday.

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