• Kyodo

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Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic has decided to keep faith in Keisuke Honda, naming the out-of-favor AC Milan attacker to his 25-man squad on Thursday for this month’s World Cup final-round qualifiers against United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

Halilhodzic also threw in a few surprises as Gamba Osaka’s Yasuyuki Konno and club teammate Shu Kurata were recalled along with FC Tokyo’s Yojiro Takahagi for the games in Al Ain on March 23 and Saitama five days later. Takahagi was picked for the first time by Halilhodzic.

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