Japan recall Honda for World Cup tune-ups, Okazaki omitted

Keisuke Honda has been recalled by Japan for two World Cup warm-up matches. (Reuters pic)
Keisuke Honda has been recalled by Japan for two World Cup warm-up matches. (Reuters pic)

TOKYO: Japan recalled midfielder Keisuke Honda on Thursday for their World Cup warm-up matches against Mali and Ukraine in Belgium later this month.

The 31-year-old Honda, who plays for Mexican club Pachuca, last featured for the national team in September’s World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

Augsburg attacking midfielder Takashi Usami, who is on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf, and FC Tokyo midfielder Shoya Nakajima, on loan at Portuguese club Portimonense, were also named in Vahid Halilhodžić’s squad.

Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki, who recently made a comeback from a knee injury, has been left out of the squad for the matches against Mali and Ukraine on March 23 and 27 respectively in the Belgian city of Liege.

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa have also been omitted because of injuries.

Halilhodžić had left out Kagawa, Okazaki, and Honda for friendlies against Brazil and Belgium in November.

Japan will face Colombia, Senegal, and Poland in Group H at this year’s World Cup in Russia.