Soccer

Muto, Asano included on 24-man Japan squad for October friendlies

Kyodo

Mainz striker Yoshinori Muto and Stuttgart striker Takuma Asano were among the foreign-based players named on the Japan national team for next month’s friendly soccer games against New Zealand and Haiti, the Japan Football Association said Thursday.

But regulars Keisuke Honda of Pachuca, Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Makoto Hasebe were dropped from the 24-man squad for the Oct. 6 match against New Zealand and Oct. 10 meeting with Haiti.

Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic also included midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who scored his first goal of the season for Dortmund last week, and Kawasaki Frontale defender Shintaro Kurumaya on the roster.

Japan plays New Zealand in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture before facing Haiti at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium in the Kirin Challenge Cup.

The friendlies will give Halilhodzic an opportunity to test the talent of some new faces on the team that last month secured qualification for next year’s World Cup finals in Russia.