Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu left Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi and Vissel Kobe forward Yuya Osako out of his 26-man squad for the World Cup on Tuesday, saying he had opted for players with “burning ambition” over experience at the finals this month.
The Japanese have never gone beyond the last 16 at a World Cup but Moriyasu is targeting the quarter-finals in Qatar, where it will face Germany, Spain and Costa Rica in Group E.
“Our goal is to at least reach the quarter-finals,” Moriyasu told a media conference in Tokyo as he named his squad for Japan’s seventh appearance at the finals. “It won’t be easy.”
Moriyasu has left Furuhashi out despite the striker’s impressive performances at Celtic while Osako, a regular under Moriyasu, has been hit by fitness problems following his return to the J1 League.
Japan has drafted in forward Shuto Machino to replace injured defender Yuta Nakayama. Nakayama, who plays for English club Huddersfield, injured his Achilles tendon in a match
There was also no place for experienced Union Berlin midfielder Genki Haraguchi, who was part of the squad at the last World Cup and who featured regularly during the preliminaries.
“If I could, I would have included them, and would have wanted to fight in the World Cup with them,” Moriyasu said when asked about Osako and Furuhashi’s exclusion. “They have the ability to do that.
“Selecting members with the experience was one option but ultimately we decided to bet on the players who didn’t have that but had the burning ambition to succeed at the World Cup.”
Nagoya Grampus winger Yuki Soma was a surprise inclusion while Bochum forward Takuma Asano was also named in a squad that will be led by captain Maya Yoshida and features Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu and Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo.
Japan kicks off its campaign on November 23 against Germany.