The biggest surprises from Thursday's announcement were the over-age spots, as defender Yuhei Tokunaga and goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi joined centre-back Maya YoshidaThe Japan Football Association (JFA) on Thursday announced its provisional squad list for the upcoming 2012 London Olympics, but left out Manchester United-bound Shinji Kagawa and CSKA Moscow attacker Keisuke Honda.
The list of 35 players, which includes nine currently playing for or scheduled to join European clubs, will be trimmed down to a final roster of 18 members plus four reserve players before Japan host New Zealand in a send-off match on July 11.
Notable selections include Arsenal starlet Ryo Miyaichi, incoming Hannover right-back Hiroki Sakai, Stuttgart left-back Gotoku Sakai, and Hoffenheim midfielder Takashi Usami.
After the Under-23's poor showing at the Toulon Invitational in May, Coach Takeshi Sekizuka chose to use his three over-age player spots on defensive players. The selection of FC Tokyo defender Yuhei Tokunaga, who started twice at the 2004 Athens Olympics, came as a surprise to many.
"[Tokunaga] can play as a centre-back, on the sides, or even at defensive midfield if we need him to," said JFA technical director Hiromi Hara, also noting the 28-year-old's familiarity with team-mate and Under-23 starting goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda. "He'll fit in well with our younger players."
Shimizu S-Pulse goalkeeper Akihiro Hayashi's presence on the list only underscored fears held by the JFA over the team's lack of defensive depth.
"Gonda is our starting goalkeeper, but the other two goalkeepers [Sanfrecce Hiroshima's Takuya Masuda and Kawasaki Frontale's Shunsuke Ando] haven't had many J-League appearances," Hara told reporters in explaining the selection. "We put [Hayashi] in the squad in case something happens to Gonda, as well as to help him stay competitive."
The team's third over-age spot will be filled by VVV defender Maya Yoshida. Japan will compete with Spain, Morocco, and Honduras in Group D.
Japan's preliminary roster for the 2012 London Olympics:
|Akihiro Hayashi||Shimizu S-Pulse|
|Shuichi Gonda||FC Tokyo|
|Takuya Masuda||Sanfrecce Hiroshima|
|Shunsuke Ando||Kawasaki Frontale|
|Yuhei Tokunaga||FC Tokyo|
|Maya Yoshida||VVV Venlo|
|Yuki Saneto||Kawasaki Frontale|
|Yusuke Higa||Yokohama F. Marinos|
|Kazuki Oiwa||JEF Chiba United|
|Kazuya Yamamura||Kashima Antlers|
|Daisuke Suzuki||Albirex Niigata|
|Yutaka Yoshida||Shimizu S-Pulse|
|Hiroki Sakai||Kashiwa Reysol|
|Mizuki Hamada||Urawa Reds|
|Kosuke Yamamoto||Jubilo Iwata|
|Hiroshi Kiyotake||Cerezo Osaka|
|Taisuke Muramatsu||Shimizu S-Pulse|
|Kota Mizunuma||Sagan Tosu|
|Keigo Higashi||Omiya Ardija|
|Takuji Yonemoto||FC Tokyo|
|Akimi Barada||Kashiwa Reysol|
|Takahiro Ogihara||Cerezo Osaka|
|Kensuke Nagai||Nagoya Grampus|
|Ryohei Yamasagi||Jubilo Iwata|
|Yuki Otsu||Borussia MG|
|Manabu Saito||Yokohama F. Marinos|
|Yuya Osako||Kashima Antlers|
|Hiroshi Ibusuki||Sevilla Athletico|
|Genki Haraguchi||Urawa Reds|
|Kenyu Sugimoto||Tokyo Verdy|