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Nine ´Eurostars´ in Zac´s Japan against Argentina

Former AC Milan boss Alberto Zaccheroni, set for his debut match as Japan coach against powerhouse Argentina, has called up nine Europe-based players led by CSKA Moscow midfielder Keisuke Honda.

The 25-strong squad, unveiled on Thursday, features in the forward line-up three midfielders including Honda, new Tom Tomsk signing Daisuke Matsui and rising Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa.

Also included are two newcomers but missing is key centre-back Yuji Nakazawa of Yokohama Marinos, due to a right calf injury.

Japan host the South Americans, starring Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, in Saitama on October 8, before going on to Seoul to battle Asian rivals South Korea four days later.

With Honda scoring two goals as a lone frontman to boost their feeble firepower, Japan reached the last 16 in South Africa in June for their best ever World Cup. But they lost to Paraguay on penalties in the quarter-finals.

Zaccheroni, 57, signed a two-year contract with Japan on August 30 but had to watch from the stands as the Blue Samurai beat Paraguay and Guatemala in two friendlies at home in early September as he had still to obtain a work visa.

The upcoming friendlies are a test ahead of the Asian Cup in Qatar in January, when three-time champions Japan will try to regain the title they lost in 2007.

It is the first time Zaccheroni — who has coached six Serie-A clubs and won the 1998-1999 scudetto with AC Milan — has coached a national side or an overseas club.

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Lierse SK/BEL), Shusaku Nishikawa (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Defenders: Marcus Tulio Tanaka (Nagoya Grampus), Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yuzo Kurihara (Yokohama Marinos), Masahiko Inoha (Kashima Antlers), Yuto Nagatomo (Cesena/ITA), Tomoaki Makino (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke/GER)

Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale), Yuki Abe (Leicester City/ENG), Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo), Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg/GER), Takuya Honda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Hajime Hosogai (Urawa Red Diamonds)

Forwards:

Daisuke Matsui (FK Tom Tomsk/RUS), Ryoichi Maeda (Jubilo Iwata), Kunimitsu Sekiguchi (Vegalta Sendai), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania/ITA), Mu Kanazaki (Nagoya Grampus), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/GER)

Thu 30 September, 2010
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