Japan announce star-studded squad for Asian Cup

By Hieu Luong   January 1, 2024 | 10:22 pm PT
Japan announce star-studded squad for Asian Cup
Japan players celebrate in the 5-0 win against Thailand on Jan. 1, 2024. Photo by the Football Association of Thailand
Japan, Vietnam's opponent in the 2024 Asian Cup, have announced their final squad list of 26 players, of whom 20 are playing in Europe.

Four each are playing in England and Germany, three each in France and Belgium, two each in Scotland and Netherlands, and one each in Spain, Portugal and Qatar.

But only five remain from the 2019 Asian Cup: Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Takumi Minamino (AS Monaco), Junya Ito (Stade de Reims) and Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg).

They remain Japan’s best players now, alongside Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad) and Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion).

Mitoma is injured and expected to be out for four to six weeks, but coach Hajime Moriyasu has included him in the squad saying his recovery is going well and he will be back soon.

Since he might recover in time for the round of 16, Moriyasu did not want to leave a star like him at home.

Two stars who did not get picked are Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf) and Daichi Kamada (Lazio).

Japan are unlikely to be troubled in the group stage by Vietnam, Iraq or Indonesia, and in fact hope to go all the way. The 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011 winners finished second after losing to Qatar in the 2019 final.

Since Moriyasu took over the team in 2018, the team have achieved impressive results, making it past the group stage in the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, en route defeating heavyweights like Germany and Spain.

A 5-0 victory over Thailand in a friendly on Monday gave them a new record winning streak of nine matches.

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