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Japan commit to Copa America

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Apr 2011

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Japan has confirmed that it will participate in the Copa America in July, reversing their previous decision to pull out of the tournament.

Japan announced in early April that it was withdrawing from the competition owing to disruption caused to the J-League season by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged their nation on in March.

But the Japanese Football Association have changed their original decision, meaning the team will be present along with Mexico as guests at the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) tournament in Argentina.

“The JFA decided to participate in the Copa America today,” Japan Football Association (JFA) general secretary Kozo Tashima said Thursday.

“We are in the process of notifying CONMEBOL as we speak.”

The J-League is scheduled to continue during July’s Copa America, with the national team only able to call upon one player from each domestic club to minimise disruption.

Much of the squad must be comprised from Europe-based players, meaning the JFA and CONMEBOL will be charged with securing their release from reluctant clubs.

“We need a team that won’t embarrass us or damage the prestige of the Copa America,” Tashima said.

“As (JFA President Junji) Ogura said, likely half the team would have to be from Europe.”

“We don’t expect to get all the players we want, and some we will need to rest. But we will try to pick as many of the players the manager needs.”

Japan has been drawn in Group A of the competition, together with Colombia, Bolivia and hosts Argentina.

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