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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Yamase, Yano earn recalls to face Serbia

Kyodo News

Yokohama F. Marinos midfielder Koji Yamase and Albirex Niigata striker Kisho Yano both won recalls as national team manager Takeshi Okada on Monday named a 20-man squad for the team's upcoming World Cup warmup against Serbia in Osaka.

News photo
Late run: Koji Yamase (center) has been called up to the national team for the first time since August 2008. KYODO PHOTO

Yamase was last called up for national team duty in August 2008 while Yano returns to the fold for the first time since last June. Twenty-one-year-old Fukuoka University striker Kensuke Nagai was also picked for the April 7 friendly at Nagai Stadium.

Okada only has Japan-based players at his disposal for the last match before selecting his final squad for this summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

Yokohama F. Marinos playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura and defender and club teammate Yuzo Kurihara were also named but Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara and towering FC Tokyo striker Sota Hirayama were both overlooked.

"I have selected players that haven't really had a chance so far," said Okada. "But that doesn't in any way mean the players I haven't picked have no chance of going to the World Cup."

Okada is expected to name his World Cup squad in mid-May.

Japan faces bitter rival South Korea on May 24 at Saitama Stadium 2002 in a send-off match before the team leaves for a pre-World Cup training camp in Switzerland.

Japan then squares off against England on May 30 in Austria before taking on Cote d'Ivoire in Switzerland on June 4, which will provide Okada's men with the opportunity to take on African opponents before they face Cameroon in their World Cup opener on June 14.

Japan has also been drawn against the Netherlands and Denmark in Group E.

Sven to lead Ivorians

ABIDJAN (AP) Former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson was appointed Sunday to lead Cote d'Ivoire to the World Cup in South Africa.

Souleymane Alex Bamba, a member of Cote d'Ivoire's Football Federation (FIF), made the live announcement on national television exactly one month after FIF president Jacques Anouma fired the previous coach, Vahid Halilhodzic.

The FIF said Eriksson was chosen ahead of several other candidates as he is "an experienced coach who has proved himself" and who can ensure an "honorable" performance at the World Cup, which runs from June 11-July 11.

It wasn't clear if the Swede will be asked to stay on beyond the tournament.

Cote d'Ivoire, led by Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, is in Group G with Brazil, Portugal and North Korea at the World Cup.

Halilhodzic was sacked after a disappointing performance at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, when the team lost in the quarterfinals to Algeria.

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