Defenders Tsukasa Shiotani of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Hiroki Fujiharu of Gamba Osaka were named as two of Japan’s three overage players for the Rio Olympics by the Japan Football Association on Tuesday.
The remaining slot will likely be awarded to a forward, with Urawa Reds’ Shinzo Koroki, Kawasaki Frontale’s Yoshito Okubo and Yuya Osako of Cologne as candidates.
“They’re both tough,” Japan’s Olympic coach Makoto Teguramori said of Shiotani and Fujiharu, who are members of the full national side.
“Fujiharu has the work rate to get up and down, and Shiotani has the height and strength to hold his own in one-on-ones. I’m counting on them to improve us on both attack and in defense.”
Fujiharu is keen on trying to help Japan win its first medal in men’s soccer since the 1968 Mexico City Games.
“As long as I’m going, I want to come home with a gold medal in hand,” Fujiharu said. “Playing in the Olympics has been a dream of mine.
“It’s important to gain international experience since my goal is to play at the World Cup in Russia.”
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5