Versatile Dutch-based defender Sai van Wermeskerken was among 22 named to Japan’s under-23 national side for its tour of Portugal starting next week, the Japan Football Association announced on Monday.
Van Wermeskerken, born to a Dutch father and Japanese mother, received his first call-up to Makoto Teguramori’s side, which leaves for Lisbon next Monday.
Japan faces London 2012 gold medalist Mexico in a friendly on March 25 before playing Portugal first-division leader Sporting in a training match three days later.
“Playing Mexico is the ideal way to find out where you are,” Teguramori said. “I hope the competition within the squad picks up from here on.”
Teguramori continues to explore his options for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, which Japan qualified for by winning the Asian Under-23 Championship in January.
Teguramori, who will select overage players to his 18 for Rio, will be without three of his key players due to injury for most of the spring — forward Musashi Suzuki and defenders Ken Matsubara and Sei Muroya.
The manager is counting on van Wermeskerken, who covers several positions at the back and in midfield for second-division Dordrecht, to fill in for Albirex Niigata’s Matsubara and Muroya of FC Tokyo.
“Hopefully, he will give us an option that we haven’t had before,” Teguramori said of van Wermeskerken.
GK: Daichi Sugimoto (Tokushima Vortis), Ayumi Niekawa (Sagan Tosu), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)
DF: Ryosuke Yamanaka (Kashiwa), Shinnosuke Nakatani (Kashiwa), Masashi Kamekawa (Avispa Fukuoka), Tatsuki Nara (Kawasaki Frontale), Takuya Iwanami (Vissel Kobe), Sai van Wermeskerken (Dordrecht), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers)
MF: Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Riki Harakawa (Kawashima), Shoya Nakajima (FC Tokyo), Yuta Toyokawa (Fagiano Okayama), Takumi Minamino (Red Bull Salzburg), Takahiro Sekine (Urawa), Daichi Kameda (Tosu), Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)
FW: Yuya Kubo (BSC Young Boys), Takeshi Kanamori (Fukuoka), Takuma Asano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
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