Zico announces Japan squad

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Japan coach Zico has announced his squad for the World Cup, going with a team he hopes will be able to overcome recent goal-scoring problems.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:40 IST
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Japan coach Zico has announced his squad for the World Cup, going with a team he hopes will be able to overcome recent goal-scoring problems. Zico selected forwards Atsushi Yanagisawa, Masashi Oguro, Naohiro Takahara of Hamburg SV and Keiji Tamada to the 23-man squad. Japan has had trouble scoring in recent friendlies. In their last tuneup matches on home soil, Zico's squad scored just one goal in two matches against Bulgaria and Scotland, two teams that failed to qualify for the World Cup. In the biggest surprise, Tatsuhiko Kubo was left off the team in favor of forward Seiichiro Maki, who scored the lone goal against Bulgaria on May 9 in Osaka. Zico has faced mounting criticism at home for failing to find an offensive mix that can produce more goals. "Maki has shown me that he has got quality and potential and can get the job done,'' said Zico. "He gives us something different and if he can maintain the kind of form he is in at the moment I'm confident he can do a good job for his country.'' Japan's midfield will include Europe-based players Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton), Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic) and Junichi Inamoto (West Bromwich Albion). Domestic players Takashi Fukunishi, Mitsuo Ogasawara, Yasuhito Endo and former Feyenoord player Shinji Ono were also selected as midfielders. In defence, Zico selected Brazilian-born Alessandro Santos, Keisuke Tsuboi, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, Yuji Nakazawa, Koji Nakata, Yuichi Komano, Makoto Tanaka and Akira Kaji. The squad includes 11 members from the 2002 World Cup team that reached the second round under French coach Philippe Troussier when Japan co-hosted the tournament with South Korea. Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, Seigo Narazaki and Yoichi Doi were selected as goalkeepers. Japan is drawn in a tough Group F against Australia, Croatia and defending champion Brazil. They will be making their third straight World Cup appearance in Germany. Squad:Goalkeepers: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata), Yoichi Doi (FC Tokyo), Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus Eight). Defenders: Makoto Tanaka (Jubilo Iwata), Tsuneyasu Miyamoto (Gamba Osaka), Alessandro Santos (Urawa Reds), Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F Marinos), Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa Reds), Akira Kaji (Gamba Osaka), Yuichi Komano (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Koji Nakata (Basel, Switzerland). Midfielders: Takashi Fukunishi (Jubilo Iwata), Mitsuo Ogasawara (Kashima Antlers), Shinji Ono (Urawa Reds), Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Hidetoshi Nakata (Bolton Wanderers, England), Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic, Scotland), Junichi Inamoto (WestBromwich Albion, England). Forwards: Seiichiro Maki (JEF United Chiba), Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus Eight), Atsushi Yanagisawa (Kashima Antlers), Masashi Oguro (Grenoble, France), Naohiro Takahara (Hamburg SV, Germany). (AP)