November 1, 2017
TOKYO- Japanese soccer stars Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Shinji Okazaki have been left out of the national team squad for friendly matches in Europe this month, the Japan Football Association has said.
On Tuesday, the JFA announced 25 Samurai Blue members for friendlies against the Brazilian national team in Lille, France, on Nov. 10 and the Belgian team in Bruges, Belgium, on Nov. 14.
It is the first time for Borussia Dortmund midfielder Kagawa, Leicester striker Okazaki and Pachuca midfielder Honda to be omitted from the squad simultaneously since they became main players for the Japanese national team, except when the squad comprised only members playing at domestic clubs.
Honda and Okazaki were left out of the team's friendlies in October as well.
Meanwhile, Kazuki Nagasawa of Urawa Reds made the Samurai Blue squad for the first time ever, and Ryota Morioka of Waasland-Beveren was called up for the first time under manager Vahid Halilhodzic. Shinzo Koroki of Urawa Reds received his first call-up in two years.
In the current FIFA world rankings, Japan is 44th while Brazil is in second place and Belgium fifth. All three countries have qualified for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
Halilhodzic told a press conference in Tokyo that he personally thinks that Brazil and Belgium are the two best teams in the world, adding that he will try his best to accomplish a big task.
Halilhodzic also said the three omitted players need to get back on form. Jiji Press
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