Soccer

Suzuki, Yamanaka earn call-ups for largely unchanged Japan squad

Kyodo

Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu on Wednesday rewarded J. League players Yuma Suzuki and Ryosuke Yamanaka with their first call-ups to the senior national squad following strong club performances this season.

The two were named in the 23-man squad to face Venezuela and Kyrgyzstan in international friendlies later this month as the Samurai Blue make final preparations for the Asian Cup kicking off Jan. 5 in the United Arab Emirates.

Moriyasu, who has overseen three wins from three matches, recalled most of the squad that beat Uruguay 4-3 on Oct. 16, including attacking trio Shoya Nakajima, Ritsu Doan and Takumi Minamino, who starred against La Celeste at Saitama Stadium.

Twenty-two-year-old forward Suzuki has been the top scorer this season for Kashima Antlers, who aim to seal their maiden Asian Champions League title this weekend following a 2-0 win over Iranian side Persepolis in the first leg of the final.

Yamanaka, 25, has played all 31 league games for Yokohama F. Marinos so far this season. He will provide additional cover at left-back in the absence of veteran Yuto Nagatomo, who suffered a collapsed lung while playing for Galatasaray in the Champions League late last month.

The 32-year-old Nagatomo is expected to be out until the end of this month, but is considered a certainty to make the Asian Cup squad provided he is healthy.

The 50th-ranked Samurai Blue will play world No. 29 Venezuela on Nov. 16 at Oita Bank Dome.

They will play their final international friendly before the Asian Cup against 90th-ranked Kyrgyzstan at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture on Nov. 20.