Kagawa, Honda in Japan squad for Euro friendlies
Alberto Zaccheroni has included Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa and CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda in his 23-man Japan squad for upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Belgium.
Defender Yuto Nagatomo of Inter Milan and forward Shinji Okazaki of Mainz were also among the group of 12 Europe-based players selected for the matches on Nov. 16 and 19.
Japan is coming off defeats away to Serbia (2-0) and Belarus (1-0) last month, resulting in increased pressure on the 60-year-old Zaccheroni to produce better results despite the Italian manager successfully guiding the national squad through qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
''In October, we didn't play the brand of football we should be aiming for,'' Zaccheroni said. ''That's why results didn't follow. We lacked sharpness and rhythm in attack.''
Kashima Antlers striker Yuya Osako and FC Tokyo midfielder Hideto Takahashi were both named, while Cerezo Osaka striker Yoichiro Kakitani was also called up.
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo).
Defenders: Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart).
Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Nuremberg), Hajime Hosogai (Hertha Berlin), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Hideto Takahashi (FC Tokyo), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)
Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Yuya Osako (Kashima Antlers).