Japan’s Under-23s coach Makoto Teguramori named a 21-man squad on Monday to face fellow Olympic participant South Africa on June 29.
Coming two days before Teguramori names his 18-man team for the Rio de Janeiro Games, the South Africa clash at Matsumoto Stadium will be the final chance for some of his players to make a case for spots on the Olympic team. It will give the 48-year-old coach a chance to check on those returning from injuries, including FC Tokyo playmaker Shoya Nakajima and Albirex Niigata forward Musashi Suzuki.
Around a third of the 21 players could face the axe after the game, with the coach omitting European-based forwards Yuya Kubo (Young Boys) and Takumi Minamino (Salzburg), and overage defenders Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) and Hiroki Fujiharu (Gamba Osaka), suggesting a commitment to those four.
“Being fit enough to play one game won’t be enough. The games will come fast at the finals,” said Teguramori, whose team will face Nigeria, Colombia and Sweden in Group B over a span of seven days in Brazil.
“It’ll be a training match, not a send-off. We’d like to have a game that will make people anxiously await the matches at the Rio Games,” the coach said.
Goalkeepers: Masatoshi Kushibiki (Kashima Antlers), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa Reysol)
Defenders: Ken Matsubara (Albirex Niigata), Masashi Kamekawa (Avispa Fukuoka), Kento Hashimoto, Sei Muroya (FC Tokyo), Naomichi Ueda (Kashima Antlers), Genta Miura (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shinnosuke Nakatani (Kashiwa Reysol)
Midfielders: Ryota Oshima, Riki Harakawa (Kawasaki Frontale), Wataru Endo (Urawa Reds), Junya Ito (Kashiwa Reysol), Shinya Yajima, Yuta Toyokawa (Fagiano Okayama), Gakuto Notsuda (Albirex Niigata), Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka)
Forwards: Musashi Suzuki (Albirex Niigata), Shoya Nakajima (FC Tokyo), Takuma Asano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Ado Onaiwu (JEF United Chiba)