Today I was at JFA House in Tokyo to hear Javier Aguirre announce his first squad since taking over as Japan manager. Here’s the full squad, along with comments about the selection from the new man in charge…
TOKYO — Javier Aguirre swept into his role as the new coach of the Japan national team on Thursday, promising a clean slate for the side that hugely underperformed at the World Cup this summer as he announced his maiden squad.
The Mexican named seven previously uncapped players—five of whom have never been called up before—including defender Tatsuya Sakai of Sagan Tosu, Vissel Kobe playmaker Ryota Morioka, and J.League man of the moment Yoshinori Muto, who has five goals in his last six games for FC Tokyo.
“I didn’t look at the list of players from before,” the 55-year-old said when announcing his 23 for the upcoming friendlies against Uruguay in Sapporo on Sept. 5 and Venezuela in Yokohama on Sept. 9.
“I decided by also listening to the opinions of my coaches, and I watched many games and checked many videos.”
Albirex Niigata defender Ken Matsubara and Sanfrecce Hiroshima rookie Yusuke Minagawa were the other two new faces, while goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi of Sagan Tosu and Kashima Antlers’ Gaku Shibasaki have both been handed chances for first national team appearances.
Aguirre refused to be drawn on any players in particular, though, and also made it clear he would not discuss those left out of the squad—of which there were 11 from the Brazil World Cup list, including Japan’s most-capped player Yasuhito Endo, and the injured Shinji Kagawa and Atsuto Uchida.
“We are starting from scratch—if I talk about one player then I have to talk about all 23,” the former Atletico Madrid and Espanyol head coach told a packed press conference at the JFA headquarters in Tokyo.
“All the players are starting from scratch and now I am thinking about which 11 will make my starting team. Young players, veterans, first call-ups, players with experience, J.League players, overseas-based players: It makes no difference. They are all Japan national team players.”
Aguirre has previously enjoyed success with his native Mexico, guiding El Tri to the World Cup’s knockout round in both 2002 and 2010, and his first big challenge in his new post will be to help Japan defend the Asian Cup in Australia in January.
“There are tests the players have to pass and six games before the Asian Cup,” he said. “The players who pass the tests will continue to the Asian Cup.”
Full squad: Eiji Kawashima, Shusaku Nishikawa, Akihiro Hayashi; Hiroki Mizumoto, Yuto Nagatomo, Masato Morishige, Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, Tatsuya Sakai, Gotoku Sakai, Ken Matsubara; Makoto Hasebe, Hajime Hosogai, Junya Tanaka, Ryota Morioka, Takahiro Ogihara, Gaku Shibasaki; Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda, Yoichiro Kakitani, Yuya Osako, Yusuke Minagawa, Yoshinori Muto