• Kyodo


Japan will almost certainly not be able to call up European-based stars such as AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo as overage players for this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Japan Football Association technical director Masahiro Shimoda said Thursday.

Speaking after a 10-day trip to Europe, Shimoda said, “It is going to be difficult to call up (overage) players from European clubs for Japan’s Olympic team. The chances are close to zero.”

Honda has said in January that he would consider playing in Rio if asked, while Nagatomo put up his hand to play last Saturday.

“As a footballer, I want to go,” Nagatomo said after helping Inter to a 3-1 win over Udinese. “It’s the Olympics, an opportunity to play for your flag.”

Both Honda and Nagatomo played for Japan at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Japan had been given the all-clear to call up Under-23 stars Takumi Minamino from Salzburg and Yuya Kubo from Young Boys.

Japan, which reached the semifinals of the London Olympics, will play Sweden, African champion Nigeria and Colombia in Group B after the draw was made in Brazil earlier this month.

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