Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu left Celtic forward Kyogo Furuhashi and Vissel Kobe striker Yuya Osako out of his 26-man squad for the FIFA 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 they 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 7th 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.
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 Asian qualifiers for the tournament.
“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 kick off their campaign on Nov. 23 against Germany.
Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Daniel Schmidt (Sint Truiden), Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg)
Defenders: Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Miki Yamane, Shogo Taniguchi (both Kawasaki Frontale), Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Maya Yoshida (Schalke), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Yuta Nakayama (Huddersfield)
Midfielders: Junya Ito (Reims), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Wataru Endo (Stuttgart), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus)
Forwards: Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Takuma Asano (Bochum)