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Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Zico picks full strength squad for U.S. tour


By KUMI KINOHARA
Staff writer

Kyoto Purple Sanga striker Teruaki Kurobe won his first ever call-up to the national squad, while Shimizu S-Pulse defender Ryuzo Morioka and Portsmouth goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi were recalled for the first time since last year's World Cup as Japan coach Zico named his squad for the two-match U.S. tour on Monday in Tokyo.

Zico stressed that the 23-strong squad was the best possible selection he could make. The squad includes six of the other Europe-based players -- Hidetoshi Nakata of Parma, Shunsuke Nakamura of Reggina, Junichi Inamoto of Fulham, Shinji Ono of Feyenoord, Takayuki Suzuki of Genk and Naohiro Takahara of Hamburg SV.

"Kurobe has shown consistency in his game and made a great contribution to bringing Kyoto its first trophy (the Emperor's Cup)," Zico said. "I always keep the door open for whoever works hard and displays consistency and he is a good example of that."

The Brazilian boss noted that he may try out the three-man defense system of his predecessor Phillipe Troussier, rather than his preferred four-man set up, as a way of increasing the options available to his team.

"It is important to have as many options as possible in order to win at international level," Zico said. "We'll have more time to train together during this tour, which I hope can give us more variation to our game."

The squad will leave for San Diego on March 23 where it will play Uruguay on March 26 before traveling to Seattle for a friendly against the United States on March 29.

Japan Football Association general secretary Takeo Hirata noted that the U.S. tour will go ahead even as planned unless the conflict in the Gulf turns into a worldwide dispute.



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