TOKYO: Japan on Wednesday left out captain Maya Yoshida (pix) and other World Cup veterans for home friendlies against Uruguay and Colombia as coach Hajime Moriyasu looks to the future.
Yuto Nagatomo, who became the first Japanese player to appear at four World Cups in Qatar, was also omitted along with fellow full-back Hiroki Sakai, midfielder Gaku Shibasaki and goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda.
Moriyasu, who led Japan to World Cup wins over Germany and Spain before losing on penalties to Croatia in the last 16, told reporters that the veterans had been “a huge presence” for Japan but he wanted to blood fresh players.
“I know what they can do for us,“ he said of the absent players, including 126-cap Yoshida, now playing in Germany for Schalke.
“We need to bring through new players and see how well they can do for us.”
Moriyasu called up four new players including forward Keito Nakamura, who plays in Austria for LASK.
But there was no place for Celtic pair Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate, who also missed out on Japan's World Cup squad and have been in red-hot form this season in Scotland.
Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma was included along with Eintracht Frankfurt's Daichi Kamada and Real Sociedad's Takefusa Kubo.
“The thinking is that I want a deeper and stronger pool of players to choose from so that we can build the strongest possible Japan team,“ said Moriyasu.
Japan play Uruguay in Tokyo on March 24 and Colombia in Osaka four days later. -AFP