Japan coach Zico has omitted four European-based midfielders, including the country’s best-known exports Hidetoshi Nakata and Shinji Ono, in naming a 30-man squad for the East Asian Championship.
The Brazilian left out Nakata (Parma), Ono (Feyenoord), Naohiro Takahara (Hamburg) and Shunsuke Nakamura (Reggina) after talking to their respective club managers. The competition starts on May 28, several days before the end of several European domestic leagues.
However, Zico intends to summon the players for the subsequent Kirin Cup which starts on June 8 and at the Confederations Cup.
“There is a title at stake so there is no question the players will be made aware how important these games are…even without the players at European clubs,” Zico said.
“But South Korea, China and Hong Kong are all teams we could play in the World Cup qualifiers. That should give the players extra motivation and me the chance to analyse our opponents.”
Goalkeepers: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Portsmouth), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya), Hitoshi Sogahata (Kashima)
Defenders: Yutaka Akita (Kashima), Akira Narahashi (Kashima), Toshihiro Hattori (Iwata), Makoto Tanaka (Iwata), Nobuhisa Yamada (Urawa), Ryuzo Morioka (Shimizu), Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka), Naoki Matsuda (Yokohama), Tomonori Hirayama (Kashiwa), Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa)
Midfielders: Hiroshi Nanami (Iwata), Daisuke Oku (Yokohama), Takashi Fukunishi (Iwata), Daisuke Matsui (Kyoto), Alex (Shimizu), Tomokazu Myojin (Kashiwa), Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima), Koji Nakata (Kashima), Junichi Inamoto (Fulham), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Naohiro Ishikawa (FC Tokyo)
Forwards: Masashi Nakayama (Iwata), Takayuki Suzuki (Genk), Tatsuhiko Kubo (Yokohama), Yoshiteru