Soccer

Hajime Moriyasu recalls veterans for Panama, Uruguay friendlies

Kyodo

Hajime Moriyasu on Thursday named six veterans from last summer’s World Cup in Russia to the Japan national team for a pair of upcoming friendlies, calling on the players for the first time since he took over as manager in July.

Among the six, Moriyasu recalled Yuto Nagatomo, Yuya Osako and Maya Yoshida to Japan’s 23-man roster for the games against Panama on Oct. 12 in Niigata and Uruguay in Saitama four days later.

Moriyasu, who since July has managed both the Olympic and senior national teams, named a less-experienced group for his first two games in charge against Chile and Costa Rica.

After the Chile game was canceled due to an earthquake in Hokkaido, the 3-0 win over Costa Rica on Sept. 11 became the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima manager’s national team debut.

“There’s a lot I’d like to accomplish, but there are two things I’ve been thinking the most about,” Moriyasu told a news conference. “I’ve been giving a lot of thought to building the team through immersion in the team concept. That’s one.”

“The second is that I’ve made a lot of changes to the squad from the last game and I want to get a sense of what people are capable of, how their physical condition is, and get a grasp of how those will combine and fuse within the team.”

In addition to the veterans returning to the fold, young midfielders Ritsu Doan and Shoya Nakajima, who played well against Costa Rica, will be in the mix as well. Moriyasu said he is interested to see what a combination of youth and experience will produce.

“What kind of chemical reaction will take place, I wonder,” Moriyasu said.

Both Panama and Uruguay played at the 2018 World Cup and should provide a challenge that the Samurai Blue can learn from ahead of January’s Asian Cup.

“I will keep a sharp eye on what the players can bring against strong teams who played in the World Cup,” Moriyasu said. “I want each player to employ his various skills within the context of our team concept.”