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Copa America 2019: Japan | Final Squad, Preview and Fixtures

Varun Nair
ANALYST
Preview
992   //    07 Jun 2019, 09:38 IST

Japan v Trinidad and Tobago - International Friendly
Japan v Trinidad and Tobago - International Friendly

Asian giants Japan will be making their second appearance in the Copa America. The Samurai Blue have been invited to the South American continental championship for the first time in two decades.

Placed in Group C along with Ecuador, record Copa America winners Uruguay, and defending champions Chile, Japan will have to play well to get past the group stage hurdle.

The Asian giants have named a relatively young side for the 2019 Copa America, in view of giving international exposure to the youngsters, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where they will be gunning for the gold.

It will be Japan's only second major tournament under coach Hajime Moriyasu, who took charge of the national side prior to the 2019 AFC Asia Cup.


Squad

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Ryosuke Kojima (Oita Trinita), Keisuke Osako (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)

Defenders: Daiki Sugioka (Shonan Bellmare), Ko Itakura (Groningen), Naomichi Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Teruki Hara (Sagan Tosu), Daiki Suga (Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Sint Truiden), Tomoki Iwata (Oita Trinita), Yugo Tatsuta (Shimizu S Pulse)

Midfielders: Yuta Nakayama (PEC Zwolle), Kota Watanabe (Tokyo Verdy), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Tatsuya Ito (Hamburg), Shoya Nakajima (Al-Duhail), Koji Miyoshi (Yokohama F. Marinos), Taishi Matsumoto (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Hiroki Abe (Kashima Antlers), Takefusa Kubo (FC Tokyo),

Forwards: Daizen Maeda (Matsumoto Yamaga), Ayase Ueda (Hosei University), Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City)


Key Players

Eiji Kawashima

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The veteran goalkeeper will be a key figure for the Samurai Blue, despite having very little game time last season. Eiji Kawashima, who has 88 caps for Japan to his name, will need to be at this best, with an inexperienced defensive line likely to start in front of him.

The 36-year old made just a solitary appearance for Strasbourg in the 2018-19 campaign.

Takefuso Kubo

The teenager who has been nicknamed the Japanese Messi will be making his official debut for the Samurai Blue at the Copa America this year. The 18-year old who had a small spell at FC Barcelona has been in sensational form in the J-League.

Copa America will give the much-needed experience to the teenager who is likely to be the main man for Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Shinji Okazaki

The next veteran player in the list, Shinji Okazaki will be tasked with the view of leading the line of the very inexperienced Japanese squad. The forward, who earlier confirmed his departure from Leicester City, will need to roll back the years if Japan are to get past the group stage.

The 33-year old Okazaki made 25 appearances (most of them from the bench) in all competitions for the Foxes last season, scoring once.


Japan Copa America Fixtures

Monday, June 17: Japan v Chile

Thursday, June 20: Japan vs Uruguay

Monday, June 24: Japan v Ecuador



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