Japan set to take on El Salvador, Peru in ramp up to 2023 Asian Cup

Japan set to take on El Salvador, Peru in ramp up to 2023 Asian Cup

Japan has chosen a 26-player squad for its upcoming friendlies against El Salvador and Peru set to be played in Meiji Yasuda J.League stadiums. The matches serve as continued preparation for this winter's Asian Cup, where the Samurai Blue will look to lift the continental cup for a record fifth time.

As always, the Samurai Blue side is made up entirely of J.League stars past and present. All 26 players on the roster began their professional careers in the domestic league and four players are still plying their trade for J1 clubs.

Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Keisuke Osako brings his three caps with him to the goalkeeper rotation as Japan look to see who will be their go-tman in goal in this World Cup cycle.

The three other J.League players are all in search of their first senior team caps. Osako’s teammate, Takumu Kawamura is an option in the Japan midfield for the first time, as is Kyoto Sanga’s 21-year-old Sota Kawasaki. Ryoya Morishita has also been called up after an outstanding start to the season for Nagoya Grampus.

Leading the way for the European-based contingent is Wataru Endo, who came up at Shonan Bellmare and played for Urawa Reds before leaping to Belgium and now VfB Stuttgart in the German Bundesliga. He captained the Samurai Blue in one of their two March friendlies, with Kawasaki Frontale product and current Borussia Monchengladbach man Ko Itakura taking the armband for the other match.

2022 World Cup stars Ritsu Doan, Takuma Asano and Daizen Maeda are all in the Japan team, as is one of the Premier League’s breakout stars, Kaoru Mitoma.

Japan will play El Salvador on June 15 at Nagoya Grampus’ home, Toyota Stadium. They will then take on Peru on June 20 at Gamba Osaka’s Panasonic Stadium Suita.