Penpix of Japan squad

TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Penpix of Japan's 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa:

Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus). Goalkeeper. Born April 15 1976. Caps 75. Goals 0.

Narazaki has become Japan's first-choice goalkeeper after a long battle for the keeper's jersey with Kawaguchi. Experienced, courageous and an excellent shot-stopper, Narazaki is indisputably Japan's best goalkeeper.

Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale). Goalkeeper. Born March 20 3 1983. Caps 8. Goals 0.

Established himself as a solid back-up for Narazaki after Kawaguchi suffered a horrific leg injury last year and has proven himself a reliable starter when Narazaki has been unavailable.

Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata). Goalkeeper. Born Aug. 15 1975. Caps 116. Goals 0.

Japan's most recognisable keeper and the country's second-most capped player, Kawaguchi won a race against time to make his fourth World Cup squad after breaking his leg in September. An instinctive shot-stopper whose experience will be a major plus to Japan, although causes a few heart-stopping moments with his tendency to flap at crosses.

Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F-Marinos). Defender. Born Feb. 25 1978. Caps 102. Goals 17.

The Japan captain is far and away the team's best defender and the heartbeat of the national side. Strong in the tackle and powerful in the air. Several of his 17 international goals have bailed out Japan in big games.

Tulio (Nagoya Grampus). Defender. Born April 24 1981. Caps 37. Goals 7.

Brazilian-born stopper who adds steel to the Japanese backline and wears his heart on his sleeve although his suspect temperament has proved a liability for coach Takeshi Okada at times. Like Nakazawa, is dangerous going forward at set pieces.

Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers). Defender. Born March 27 1988. Caps 31. Goals 1.

Japan's flying right-back has the speed and trickery to dazzle the best going forwards and has improved his tackling and defensive positioning after a shaky start to his international career. Possibly one to watch.

Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo). Defender. Born Sept. 12 1986. Caps 23. Goals 3.

A more defensive option down the right to Uchida, Nagatomo may have dropped down the pecking order after a poor display in a recent 3-0 home defeat by Serbia. Versatile player capable of delivering quality crosses but lacks Uchida's burning pace.

Yasuyuki Konno (FC Tokyo). Defender. Born Jan. 25 1983. Caps 34. Goals 0.

On the plane to South Africa as cover, a no-nonsense defender who has grown in stature since making his Japan debut against China in 2005.

Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata). Defender. Born July 25 1981. Caps 51. Goals 0.

Mr. Reliable for Japan and could yet play a part at the World Cup with Okada still tinkering with his lineup in the run-in to the tournament.

Daiki Iwamasa (Kashima Antlers). Defender. Born Jan. 30 1982. Caps 2. Goals 0

Twice voted on to the J-League best eleven, a disciplined player as you would expect at champions Kashima and a tidy enough player to call upon in the case of injury.

Shunsuke Nakamura (Yokohama F-Marinos). Midfielder. Born June 24 1978. Caps 95. Goals 24.

Japan's best-known player, Nakamura is increasingly injury-prone and arguably past his peak but can still produce a moment of magic to unlock defences and change games. Deadly from free kicks around the penalty box, the silky playmaker can find a killer pass from anywhere if given space and remains Japan's most creative player.

Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow). Midfielder. Born June 13 1986. Caps 12. Goals 4.

Could prove to be Japan's X-factor at the World Cup after blossoming since establishing his place in the team last year. Muscular, direct and with a ferocious long-range shot, Honda's power gives Japan a physical edge they have often lacked at past major tournaments.

Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg). Midfielder. Born Jan. 18 1984. Caps 28. Goals 1.

Another bustling and gritty player in Japan's midfield, Hasebe's presence gives Japan more bite in attack and like Honda he can score spectacular goals from distance.

Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble). Midfielder. Born May 11 1981. Caps 22. Goals 1.

A hit in France, Matsui has never quite lived up to his billing in a Japan shirt but has shown signs of improvement on his recent trips back for international duty. Has excellent close control and a decent turn of speed. Opponents may need to closely watch him.

Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka). Midfielder. Born Jan. 28 1980. Caps 91. Goals 8.

The quiet man of Japan's midfield, the Asian footballer of the year is a box-to-box player with a superb range of passing and a viciously dipping free kick. Along with Nakamura, Endo supplies the ammunition for the forwards and gives Japan an extra weapon at the World Cup where set pieces could give them some hope of upsetting teams.

Junichi Inamoto (Kawasaki Frontale). Midfielder. Born Sept. 18 1979. Caps 79. Goals 5.

The golden boy of Japan's run to the last 16 as 2002 World Cup co-hosts, Inamoto's return to the J-League to play in a third finals paid off. The former Arsenal and Fulham midfielder could be given the task of shielding Japan's defence from Group E raiders.

Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale). Midfielder. Born Oct. 31 1980. Caps 45. Goals 5.

The "other" Nakamura could not be more different in style to his illustrious namesake. An honest squad player who works selflessly for the team, breaking up the opposition's attacks with a decent range of passing himself.

Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds). Defender. Born Sept. 6 1981. Caps 42. Goals 3.

Another versatile player equally at home in defence or anchoring Japan's midfield. One of several players dangerous from free kicks, Abe is likely to see action coming off the bench if Japan find themselves needing to safeguard points.

Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse). Forward. Born April 16 1986. Caps 25. Goals 16.

Japan's pint-sized "fox in the box" grabbed headlines last year by smashing home 15 international goals. Although most came against weaker Asian teams, Okazaki will expect to start at the World Cup.

Keiji Tamada (Nagoya Grampus). Forward. Born April 11 1980. Caps 68. Goals 16.

Hot and cold striker who has never quite lived up to his potential in a Japan shirt. Stunned Brazil with an early goal against them at the 2006 World Cup, annoying the Brazilians, who replied with four. Decent turn of pace and clever runs could make him a handful in South Africa if he is on his game.

Takayuki Morimoto (Catania). Forward. Born May 7 1988. Caps 3. Goals 1.

Powerful striker blessed with a good turn of pace but still very raw. Serie A-based player could give Japan something extra coming off the bench at the World Cup. One for the future.

Yoshito Okubo (Vissel Kobe). Forward. Born June 9 1982. Caps 46. Goals 5.

It is something of a mystery how Okubo keeps getting selected after an undistinguished international career marked by very few goals and frequent disciplinary trouble. A red card waiting to happen.

Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata). Forward. Born April 5 1984. Caps 17. Goals 2.

Japan's fifth-choice striker and another player whose inclusion will not alarm too many defenders at the World Cup. Likely to be thrown on only if Japan need late goals.

(Compiled by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Clare Fallon. To query or comment on this story email