Japan manager Akira Nishino, along with JFA president Kozo Tashima and Technical Committee chairman Takashi Sekizuka, held a press conference to reveal the “Samurai Blue” squad which will play an international friendly match against Ghana.
Japan’s preliminary World Cup squad: GK Kawashima, Higashiguchi, Nakamura DF Nagatomo, Makino, Yoshida, H.Sakai, G.Sakai, Shoji, Endo, Ueda MF Hasebe, Ideguchi, Aoyama, Honda, Inui, Kagawa, Yamaguchi, Haraguchi, Usami, Shibasaki, Oshima, Misao FW: Okazaki, Osako, Muto, Asano
— JSoccer Magazine (@JSoccerMagazine) 2018年5月18日
Among the players affiliated or related with Cerezo Osaka, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Shinji Kagawa, and Takashi Inui are on the 27-man list announced today.
A focus of attention for Cerezo supporters was whether Hiroshi Kiyotake and Kenyu Sugimoto, who have been suffered from injury these days, would be included on the list or not, but in the end both weren’t selected. Nishino emphasized that these 27 men were selected just for the game against Ghana, but at the same time he said he will basically choose 23 players going to Russia from this list in his answer to a question from Kyodo News correspondent.
Nishino didn’t specifically explain why he excluded Kiyotake and Sugimoto from his squad. That they are still on the way to recover from injury might be a reasonable factor, while the name of Kagawa, who is basically in the same situation, is on the list. In terms of performance, Kiyotake generally has performed well but due to repeated injury he hasn’t have much playing time so far and as to Sugimoto it can be said that it hasn’t been as good as the last season, although there are some players on the list despite the fact that they have recently got few playing opportunity.
Hiroshi Kiyotake published his comments in his Instagram post, saying “of course I am disappointed as a footballer, but I believe I’ve done everything I can so I have no regrets.” Although no one knows what he really thinks right now, he gave us a forward-looking message: “I’ll be looking ahead and going forward from now on too!! Thanks for your support as always!!!!! And, let’s go Japan🇯🇵⚽🇯🇵”
Fortunately for Cerezo Osaka, Kiyotake and Sugimoto are likely to come back from injury against Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Sunday. The team will go into the World Cup break after the game against the league leaders, although they have an Emperor’s Cup match on June 6.