Halilhodzic names 23-man squad, Minamino gets spot for 1st time for World Cup Qualifiers
02 October 2015
Ahead of the clash against Syria (on 8th in Muscat, Oman) in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2, combined with the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers and an international friendly against Iran (on 13th in Tehran, Iran), SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) coach Vahid HALILHODZIC announced his 23-man squad including midfielder KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund) and 20-year-old striker MINAMINO Takumi (Salzburg).
Minamino and defender SHIOTANI Tsukasa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) got their first chance to have a spot on the squad for potentially playing a senior team's match under Halilhodzic. While Minamino takes part in the national team activity for the first time since the shortlist camp in April last year, Shiotani joins the team for the first time since the AFC Asian Cup campaign last January.
After his withdrawal from the EAFF East Asian Cup campaign in August due to an injury, midfielder KASHIWAGI Yosuke (Urawa Reds) made a comeback. Midfielder KIYOTAKE Hiroshi (Hannover 96) and defender MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Reds) were also named for the squad after recovering from injury.
As well as forwards HONDA Keisuke (AC Milan) and OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City), midfielder YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka), forward USAMI Takashi and defender YONEKURA Koki (both from Gamba Osaka) were selected this time, following their last call-up for the World Cup Qualifiers against Afghanistan last month.
Halilhodzic showed his expectation on his newly-added players Minamino, Shiotani and Kashiwagi, saying "Minamino always gets a goal on his own and positions himself at a place for his teammate's goal. He will be a very effective player for the Japan national team in a few years. I also want Shiotani and Kashiwagi to make it their new start, showing different quality."
The Japan coach conversely showed wariness about the opponents. "The match against Syria is going to be most difficult and most important among the matches we had in this year." With a loss, their chance of finishing the current round atop, which will ensure an automatic advancement to the first round, will be slimmer.
While Japan's past record against Syria is seven wins and one tie, the Middle Eastern side stand at the top spot in Group E with three wins in three matches in the Asian Qualifiers Round 2. Japan trail Syria by two points with two wins and one tie. Although both teams kept clean sheets in the past three matches, Syria have shown their goal-scoring ability with 13 goals, compared to Japan's nine goals.
"They have a couple of good players and don't need so many goal-scoring opportunities (to get a goal)," pointed out Halilhodzic. "We need to get ready to win the battle. We've got excellent quality and experience." And the Bosnian coach added, "We will come out with confidence and keep winning."
He also talked about a friendly against Iran. "They are very strong and it will be a good test. Our true mentality will emerge. I want to see capability of some players, and I want them to adjust to the team."
The team will head for the host city Muscat in Oman on 4th and have training ahead of the Syria clash. The fixture was determined to take place in a neutral place, Oman due to the unstable situation in Syria. Japan's first match of their trip is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. (10 p.m. Japan time) on 8th at Seeb Stadium and the other against Iran is to kick off at 5 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Japan time) on 13th at Azadi Stadium.
Vahid HALILHODZIC, Coach of SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
The match against Syria is going to be most difficult and most important among the matches we had in this year. That's the one we must win, and if it ends up in a bad result, we wouldn't top our group (without losses by the team above Japan losing), Syria got off to a good start, standing in the top spot in the group with three win in the last three matches. They haven't given up any goal while scoring 13 goals. Yet we've also got excellent quality and experience, and come out with confidence to keep up what we've been doing. As long as there is a hope, we will keep winning and instil the winning culture.
I watched about eight of the Syria matches, and I know each player's strength and weakness and the way they play. It seems they don't need so many goal-scoring opportunities, and their effective and realistic plays surprised me. It will be a good test for us to determine what level we are at. We need to play how we want to play and get ready to become the team aiming for a win. We have shown our presence on defence so far, not allowing opponents to get into the box. We need to be more effective on offence. After finishing the two matches against Syria and Iran, I think we will be able to analyse ourselves and improve more.
SHIMODA Masahiro, JFA National Technical Director
The FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Round 2 finally got to the half-way point. We want to beat the group leader Syria and come home with three points. Halilhodzic selected the squad who can make it. The Iran match was set up according to a request from him expecting to see what we can't usually see by playing against a stronger team on the road. A long trip was avoided after the first match. We also considered the condition of our players joining the national team in the middle of the season. Just like the first match, we will try to play our game to aim for another victory in the second match.
|Mon. 5 October
|Tue. 6 October
|Wed. 7 October
|Official Conference (Seeb Stadium)
Official Training (Seeb Stadium)
|Thu. 8 October
|2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2
AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
vs Syria National Team (Seeb Stadium)
|Fri. 9 October
|Sat. 10 October
|Sun. 11 October
|Mon. 12 October
|Official Conference (Azadi stadium)
Official Training (Azadi stadium)
|Tue. 13 October
|International Friendly Match
vs Iran National Team (Azadi stadium)
2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Round 2 AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Preliminary Joint Qualification
10-8 (Thu.) - kick off at 22:00 ＜Japan Time＞ (subject to change)
Syria National Team vs SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
International Friendly Match
10-13 (Tue.) - kick off at 22:30＜Japan Time＞ (subject to change)
Iran National Team vs SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team)
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