Japan’s national team will get its first proper workout with J. League players included since the pandemic began in a matter of hours, with the Samurai Blue set to face archrival South Korea in a friendly in Yokohama.
Moriyasu’s squad features eight Europe-based players, reports Dan Orlowitz, including Sampdoria center back Maya Yoshida, Partizan striker Takuma Asano and Southampton midfielder Takumi Minamino — despite Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl slamming the call-up as “nonsense.”
The match will be a chance for Japan to show it can safely hold big events ahead of the Olympics, a point made at the latest joint meeting of J. League and Nippon Professional Baseball on COVID-19 measures, Kaz Nagatsuka reports. “We don’t have any other way to cooperate with the Olympics and Paralympics,” said J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai. “We just have to go ahead with what we’ve already done.”
Last week in the J. League, Vissel Kobe gave a couple of comeback performances for the rest of J1 to mull over during the international break.
On Wednesday, defender Ryuho Kikuchi headed home a late equalizer to earn a 1-1 home draw and ruin Kawasaki Frontale’s perfect start to the season. Four days later, trailing by three Anderson Lopes goals against Consadole Sapporo, Vissel rallied in the second half to triumph 4-3.
In contract news, two Samurai Blue veterans plying their trade overseas will continue to do so for the near future, but at very different clubs. Former Japan captain Makoto Hasebe, 37, has signed a one-year extension with the Bundesliga’s Eintracht Frankfurt, while globe-trotting Keisuke Honda, 34, has somehow found himself at the mighty Neftci PFK, in Azerbaijan.