Soccer

Koroki, Shiotani eye Olympic soccer overage berths

Kyodo

Urawa Reds striker Shinzo Koroki said Saturday he is honored to be considered among the three overage players on the shortlist for Japan’s team to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“It’s flattering and an incredible honor to have your name mentioned,” Koroki said after Urawa suffered a crippling 2-0 home defeat to Kashima Antlers.

“But I play for Urawa Reds and they come first. I’ll think long and hard about it before making my decision.”

Sources say Koroki has met with Under-23 national coach, Makoto Teguramori, and while he has yet to formally reply to the Japan Football Association, it is believed he is leaning towards going to Rio.

Reportedly joining the 29-year-old Koroki on Teguramori’s wish list are Sanfrecce Hiroshima defender Tsukasa Shiotani and Gamba Osaka left-back Hiroki Fujiharu.

It remains to be seen where Kawasaki Frontale’s two-time World Cup striker Yoshito Okubo, who was rumored to be in the running for one of the overage slots, now stands.

Shiotani made it clear he wants to play at the games.

“If I’m officially asked, I want to go,” the 27-year-old said. “If I can go to the Olympics, I want to fight for Japan. I think I have something to offer.”

Teguramori will name his 18 for Rio early next month. Japan lost to South Korea in the bronze-medal match at London four years ago.