Japan have pledged to play in this summer’s Copa America, despite not being able to field their strongest side.
“Which ever players we choose I’m confident we will be able to form a team of high calibre,” Japan Football Association (JFA) vice-president Kozo Tashima told Reuters.
“It (another withdrawal) will not happen. The level of our players is very much better. In the Asian Cup (this year) we couldn’t get all our best players but still we produced results.”
Japan, invited to the Copa as a guest team, are likely to be without several key players after overturning their original decision to withdraw from the tournament which will be held in Argentina.
“The players want to play the highest level of football,” said Tashima.
“The Copa America is the oldest continental tournament, very traditional. Normally we cannot play in (such) high level matches and almost all the players want to participate.”
However, several European clubs have indicated their reluctance to release their players for the tournament. Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund do not want midfielder Shinji Kagawa to play in Argentina while Schalke full back Atsuto Uchida and Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki seem unlikely to travel.
Japan’s domestic J-League are also unable to release players with the season having been postponed following last month’s earthquake and tsunami.
“The clubs and the national team are like two pillars working together. We have to respect each other,” said Tashima. “It is not about which is more important or which is less important.”
He added the JFA does not expect FIFA to bend its rules and make European clubs release their players.
Tashima said he could only hope to secure the services of Japanese internationals through discussions with their respective clubs.
Japan have been drawn to play hosts Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia in Group A of the Copa. The tournament takes place from July 1 to July 24.