Koroki to play for Japan in Rio as overage player

Kyodo

Urawa Reds striker Shinzo Koroki will head to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as the third and final overage player to be selected, the Japan Football Association announced Thursday.

Koroki and Urawa have been in discussions with the JFA over the call-up, and the 29-year-old will now join defenders Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) and Hiroki Fujiharu (Gamba Osaka) as the overage players in Makoto Teguramori’s 18-man squad to be announced July 1.

“I declined at first but the coach enthusiastically said ‘let’s fight together’ and I wanted to repay that,” Koroki said. “I didn’t think I’d get called up as an overage (player).

“I’m happy, but I have to become someone who can be called on, and I’ll try to put in performances that measure up.”

Koroki started his career at Kashima Antlers in 2005 before joining Urawa in 2013, scoring 92 league goals in 298 games in total. The all-rounder, who has six goals in 16 games for Urawa this season, has 16 caps for Japan’s senior team but is yet to score.

Japan will face Nigeria, Colombia and Sweden in Group B of the Rio 2016 Games soccer tournament that starts in August.