Osim names Japan squad

Ivica Osim has selected the final 23-players to defend Japan's Asian Cup title.

    Japan defender Yuji Nakazawa says his side are
    determined to win a third successive Asian Cup [AFP]

    Ivica Osim, Japan coach, put his faith in Celtic star midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura as the secretive Bosnian named his final Asian Cup squad with most of the nation asleep.

    The enigmatic manager waited until almost midnight on Saturday before announcing his final 23-man roster for the Asian Cup, which starts on July 7.

    Celtic playmaker Nakamura and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Naohiro Takahara were the only two Europe-based players called up by Osim for Japan's bid for a third successive title.

    Nakamura was also involved in Japan's last two Asian Cup successes in 2000 and 2004, as were defender Yuji Nakazawa and goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi who also made the squad.

    "We're going to the Asian Cup with a dream of a third title in a row," Nakazawa told reporters.

    "We have a lot of experience and are determined to come back with the trophy again."

    Osim retained 10 of the squad who flopped at last year's World Cup in Germany under Brazilian Zico.

    He had already axed former Japan mainstays Junichi Inamoto and Koji Nakata from his provisional squad after both failed to impress at last month's Kirin Cup tournament.

    The 66-year-old Osim has stirred up controversy ahead of the Asian Cup tournament by labelling Japan's Asian Cup preparations a "joke" and declaring that qualifying for the 2010 World Cup is his top priority.

    The former Yugoslavia coach was dealt a blow last week when influential Urawa Reds defender Tulio pulled out of Japan's squad with a knee injury.

    Japan play Qatar in their opening Group B game in Hanoi, with Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates also in the group.

    The Japan squad is:

    Goalkeepers - Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Iwata), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya), Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki)

    Defenders - Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F-Marinos), Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa), Akira Kaji (Gamba Osaka), Yuichi Komano (Hiroshima)

    Midfielders - Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic), Hideo Hashimoto (Gamba Osaka), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Naotake Hanyu (Chiba), Satoru Yamagishi (Chiba), Koki Mizuno (Chiba), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki), Keita Suzuki (Urawa), Yuki Abe (Urawa), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Yoshiaki Ota (Iwata)

    Forwards - Naohiro Takahara (Frankfurt), Ryuji Bando (Gamba Osaka), Seiichiro Maki (Chiba), Hisato Sato (Hiroshima), Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata)

    SOURCE: Agencies


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