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Rediff.com  » Sports » Penpix of Japan's World Cup squad

Penpix of Japan's World Cup squad

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May 29, 2006 20:35 IST
Japan's squad for the World Cup finals in Germany comprises the following 23 players:

(Statistics up to and including May 25 2006)

GOALKEEPERS

23-Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata) Born: 15.8.75 Caps: 87 Goals: 0

Japan's long-time number one. A big-game player who played a key role in Japan's Asian Cup titles in 2000 and 2004.

Superb shot-stopper but suspect on crosses. Has returned to his best form with Jubilo after a nightmare spell at English club Portsmouth and Danish exile.

12-Yoichi Doi (FC Tokyo) Born 25.7.73 Caps: 4 Goals: 0

Regarded by many as Japan's best goalkeeper but given few first-team opportunities by Japan coach Zico and his predecessor Philippe Troussier. Less error-prone than Kawaguchi and solid on crosses.

1-Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus Eight) Born: 15.4.76 Caps: 50 Goals: 0

Established himself as Japan's number one under Frenchman Troussier but inconsistent performances under Zico saw him lose his place to Kawaguchi.

Brave and solid enough on crosses, Narazaki is likely to be Kawaguchi's back-up again in Germany.

DEFENDERS

3-Yuichi Komano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) Born: 25.7.1981 Caps: 6 Goals: 0

A tough-tackling defender called up by Zico purely as cover, his versatility earned him a call-up ahead of several more senior players.

5-Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka) Born: 7.2.77 Caps: 67 Goals: 3

Japan's captain. Not the tallest of central defenders but an excellent reader of the game and commands the respect of his team mates.

Led by example for co-hosts Japan at the 2002 World Cup where he played in a Zorro-style mask to protect a broken cheekbone.

14-Alex (Urawa Reds) 20.7.77 Caps: 70 Goals: 5

Converted from a forward to left wing-back by Zico but his dangerous habit of neglecting his defensive duties has caused consternation.

Picks up too many needless bookings and could prove to be the weak link for Japan at the World Cup.

22-Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F-Marinos) Born: 25.2.78 Caps: 48 Goals: 9

Japanese Player of the year in 2004 who scored some vital goals to help Japan win the 2004 Asian Cup.

Strong in the air and always a threat from set pieces, Nakazawa has developed into far and away the best defender in Japan.

2-Makoto Tanaka (Jubilo Iwata) Born: 8.8.75 Caps: 32 Goals: 0

Flourished at Jubilo while former Brazil captain Dunga was still in the side but is a lightweight defender prone to errors in judgement.

21-Akira Kaji (Gamba Osaka) Born: 13.1.80 Caps: 42 Goals: 1

Has caught the eye for Japan with his speed on the right flank and is a decent crosser of the ball.

Kaji's overlapping runs on the right add much to Japan's attack but he is not the greatest defender in the side.

19-Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa Reds) Born: 16.9.79 Caps: 31 Goals: 0

Broke into Urawa's first team under former Japan coach Hans Ooft and won the J-League's Young Player of the Year award in his first season in 2002.

Quick, brave and a good reader of the game, Tsuboi has yet to truly shine for Japan but retains the faith of Zico.

MIDFIELDERS

7-Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton Wanderers, England) Born: 22.1.77 Caps: 72 Goals: 11

Japan's most recognisable player is enjoying a new lease of life at Bolton. Won a championship medal with AS Roma at one of five Italian clubs he played for before moving to England.

The former captain of Japan and twice Asian Player of the Year orchestrates the play for the national team and has scored some vital goals.

10-Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic, Scotland) Born: 24.6.78 Caps: 58 Goals: 15

Japanese enigma who was controversially discarded by Troussier before the last World Cup but is now a regular fixture under Zico.

A revelation at Celtic this season, helping them to win the Scottish title, after cutting his teeth in Europe at Italian club Reggina. Has wonderful vision and is deadly from free kicks.

18-Shinji Ono (Urawa Reds) Born: 27.9.79 Caps: 53 Goals: 6

A UEFA Cup winner with Feyenoord but he returned to Urawa in January after injuries limited his appearances for the Dutch club this season.

Has silky skills and chips in with important goals, Ono's undoubted quality can change matches but he has suffered from injury problems over the past few seasons.

17-Junichi Inamoto (West Bromwich Albion, England) Born: 18.9.79 Caps: 62 Goals: 4

Made his mark on the biggest stage with some stirring displays during the 2002 World Cup. Inamoto has a great engine and has played for Arsenal, Fulham, Cardiff City and West Brom, though has yet to establish himself as a first-team regular in England.

15-Takashi Fukunishi (Jubilo Iwata) Born: 1.9.76 Caps: 60 Goals: 7

A solid holding midfielder regarded as an underachiever by Troussier, Fukunishi has grown in confidence under Zico. Good in the air and a tough tackler, he has become an integral part of Japan's squad under the Brazilian.

8-Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers) Born: 5.4.79 Caps: 50 Goals: 7

Once seen as an understudy to Nakata, Ogasawara got the nod ahead of Nakamura for the 2002 World Cup and has become a key player for Japan in his own right.

Played a key role in Japan's Asian Cup triumph in China last year. Has a wonderful ability from dead-ball situations around the box and has improved his suspect temperament.

4-Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka) Born: 28.1.80 Caps: 40 Goals: 3

A hard-working midfielder who is prone to the odd mis-placed pass and his lack of pace could be a liability in Germany. Could be out of his depth at the World Cup but is likely to be used only as back-up to Inamoto or Fukunishi.

6-Koji Nakata (FC Basel, Switzerland) Born: 9.7.79 Caps: 54 Goals: 2

Nakata's versatility has made him a regular under both Troussier and Zico. Can play on the left of defence or midfield.

Taken to Marseille by Troussier, who was sacked by the French club soon after, and recently moved to Switzerland.

FORWARDS

13-Atsushi Yanagisawa (Kashima Antlers) Born: 27.5.77 Caps: 55 Goals: 17

Has struggled to fulfil his early promise but has pace to burn and weighs in with some spectacular goals. Recently returned to Japan after demanding a move from Italy's Messina.

Often criticised for looking disinterested, was famously hauled off by Troussier seven minutes after coming on as a substitute in the 2000 Asian Cup final.

11-Seiichiro Maki (JEF United Chiba) Born: 7.8.1980 Caps: 9 Goals: 3

A physical centre-forward uncommon in Japan, Maki's inclusion, at the expense of Tatsuhiko Kubo, drew gasps from Japanese reporters.

Made his mark in the run-up to the World Cup with some bustling performances but is likely to be used as a substitute behind Yanagisawa and Takahara.

9-Naohiro Takahara (SV Hamburg, Germany) Born: 4.6.79 Caps: 40 Goals: 15

Arguably Japan's best striker but has twice suffered from a mystery lung infection that ruled him out of the 2002 World Cup.

Strong, brave and, when on form, a clinical finisher. Japan will need to see the best of Takahara at the 2006 World Cup if they are to be any sort of threat.

16-Masashi Oguro (Grenoble, France) Born: 4.5.80 Caps: 16 Goals: 5

A classic goal poacher who scored vital goals in Japan's World Cup qualifying matches. More effective coming off the bench and likely to play a similar role at the World Cup.

20-Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus Eight) Born: 11.4.80 Caps: 37 Goals: 7

Lightning quick striker with a good eye for goal. Tamada's pace could frighten defenders, even at the World Cup. Could prove to be Japan's "X-factor" in Germany.

Source:
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