Soccer

Japan to send full-strength senior side to Copa America

Kyodo

Japan will send a full-strength senior squad to next June’s Copa America in Brazil, the Japan Football Association said Tuesday.

The JFA initially considered sending an under-23 squad in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Games, but Samurai Blue head coach Hajime Moriyasu, who also manages the Olympic side, pushed to send the strongest possible lineup.

Japan will be making its second appearance at the South American continental tournament as an invited nation, having previously contested the Copa America in 1999. A planned appearance in the tournament’s 2011 edition was cancelled in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami’s effect on the J. League season.

“It’s a valuable opportunity to strengthen the team on foreign soil. I think it’s possible to consider picking a squad with a wide range of ages,” Moriyasu said.

Qatar, hosts of the 2022 World Cup, has also been invited to the 2019 tournament, which runs from June 14 to July 7.

Also on Tuesday, the JFA announced that the Samurai Blue will play Kirin Challenge Cup international friendlies at Nissan Stadium in Yokohama and at Noevir Stadium in Kobe next March.

Additional friendlies will be staged at Toyota Stadium in Aichi Prefecture and Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi in June. The opponents have yet to be finalized.

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