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Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic names 25-man squad for World Cup qualifier, Iraq friendly

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TOKYO — J-League top scorer Takashi Usami and Mainz-bound forward Yoshinori Muto were among 25 players named by Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic on Monday for this month's World Cup qualifier against Singapore and a friendly against Iraq.

Japan opens its World Cup qualifying campaign on June 16 at Saitama Stadium, five days after hosting Iraq in Yokohama.

"Usami has tremendous talent and will only get better," Halilhodzic said of the Gamba Osaka striker. "He has a lot to offer to the national team."

Halilhodzic won his first two games in charge of Japan in March against Tunisia and Uzbekistan.

Usami is tied for the J-League scoring lead so far with 10 goals from 12 games, while Muto signed a four-year contract with Bundesliga club Mainz last week.

Atsuto Uchida, Yoshito Okubo and Yasuyuki Konno were among several regular national team members not selected.


Japan squad

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)

Defenders: Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Daiki Niwa (Gamba Osaka), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa Reds), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo)

Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover)

Forwards: Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Genki Haraguchi (Hertha Berlin), Takashi Usami (Gamba Osaka), Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Yuya Osako (Cologne), Kengo Kawamata (Nagoya Grampus)

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