I was at JFA House on Wednesday to hear Javier Aguirre announce his squad for the upcoming friendlies against Jamaica and Brazil. Eight players not included in last month’s 23 made the cut, including the returning Shinji Kagawa and Mike Havenaar…
Javier Aguirre continued his mission to rejuvenate the Japan national team on Wednesday, calling up eight players he has yet to run the rule over since assuming control of the squad in August.
Shinji Kagawa and Mike Havenaar headed the list of players returning to the Samurai Blue fold, while goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda and defender Kosuke Ota, both of FC Tokyo, and Kashima Antlers’ defender Daigo Nishi were also named after spells away.
Dortmund midfielder Kagawa missed out through injury on Aguirre’s first two games in charge, friendlies against Uruguay and Venezuela. The Mexican coach is hopeful that the 25-year-old can perform a central role for him as Japan play friendlies against Jamaica in Niigata on Oct. 10 and Brazil in Singapore on Oct. 14.
“[Kagawa] is a very talented player with the ability to come up with solutions,” Aguirre said. “He is a real threat in the attacking half, has played in Europe for several years and is also able to contribute to the team defensively. For me, he is an all-rounder.
“He can play anywhere beyond the halfway line. Fundamentally, I am thinking of playing him centrally if we use a 4-3-3 formation.”
Havenaar, meanwhile, has not been involved in the Japan squad since he came on as an 85th-minute substitute in a 1-0 defeat to Belarus on Oct. 15, 2013. He has yet to score for La Liga’s bottom side Cordoba since joining from Dutch club Vitesse in the summer, but Japan’s new boss wants to take a closer look at the 1.94-meter striker.
“I was also aware of him from the national team before,” Aguirre explained. “I want to see him playing as a center forward in this team. I trust him.”
Three other players — defenders Tsukasa Shiotani of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Gen Shoji of Kashima Antlers, and Kawasaki Frontale striker Yu Kobayashi — have been handed opportunities to make their Japan debuts based on recent league form.
“I’ve been watching many J.League games and those players are all contributing to teams doing well,” Aguirre said.
“Irrespective of their teams’ results, they always perform well. They are young but have experience — all of them are established as regulars. They can perform well in the J.League, and in these two games I want to see if they are able to replicate that at the international level.”
The full squad is:
■ Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima, Shusaku Nishikawa, Shuichi Gonda
■ Defenders: Hiroki Mizumoto, Yuto Nagatomo, Kosuke Ota, Daigo Nishi, Maya Yoshida, Tsukasa Shiotani, Gotoku Sakai, Gen Shoji
■ Midfielders: Hajime Hosogai, Masato Morishige, Junya Tanaka, Shinji Kagawa, Ryota Morioka, Gaku Shibasaki
■ Forwards: Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda, Mike Havenaar, Yu Kobayashi, Yoichiro Kakitani, Yoshinori Muto