J.League stars and products fill Japan roster for friendlies vs. Canada, Tunisia

J.League stars and products fill Japan roster for friendlies vs. Canada, Tunisia

Japan are set to take on Canada and Tunisia in a pair of domestic friendlies as part of their preparation for this winter’s AFC Asian Cup and manager Hajime Moriyasu has once again called in a team made up entirely of players who either play in the Meiji Yasuda J.League or got their professional start in the competition.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Keisuke Osako is back to try to earn the starting goalkeeper spot. He’ll be joined by Albirex Niigata’s Ryosuke Kojima, who has parlayed his strong J1 season into a national team call up as he pursues his first Samurai Blue cap.

Urawa RedsAtsuki Ito is in the squad once again, having just made his Japan debut this summer. He scored his first national team goal last month and is back to continue his push for a midfield spot at the Asian Cup. Cerezo Osaka’s Seiya Maikuma earned his first cap last month and is also back for more.

Leading the J.League alums is Takefusa Kubo, who began his professional career at F.C.Tokyo before moving to Spain, where he is currently among La Liga’s leading goal scorers for Real Sociedad.

Two Premier League players are also in the squad, with Avispa Fukuoka product and current Arsenal right back Takehiro Tomiyasu set to pull on the Japan shirt again. Shonan Bellmare academy man and current Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo will join him for the upcoming friendlies as well.

Japan have been in terrific form, building off of their appearance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout stages last year with a string of friendly wins. They’ve won four in a row, beating El Salvador, Peru, Germany and Turkey by a combined score of 18-4.

Now, the Samurai Blue take on Canada on October 13 in Niigata before playing Tunisia four days later in Kobe. Good performances there would send them on to a pair of 2026 World Cup qualifiers before the Asian Cup kicks off on January 14 in Qatar.