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


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.

, and were among several regular national team members not selected.

Japan squad

Goalkeepers: (Standard Liege), (Urawa Reds), (FC Tokyo), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka)

Defenders: (Hannover), (Stuttgart), (Inter Milan), Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo), (Southampton), Daiki Niwa (Gamba Osaka), (Urawa Reds), (FC Tokyo)

Midfielders: (Eintracht Frankfurt), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers), (Cerezo Osaka), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), (Hannover)

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

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