Japan omit wonderkid Usami

TOKYO - Bayern Munich-bound striker Takashi Usami was surprisingly overlooked for Japan's key 2012 Olympic qualifiers this month by under-22 coach Takashi Sekizuka on Friday.

Sekizuka said picking his squad for the two-leg tie had caused him sleepless nights but he can expect more if his side fail to qualify after leaving out teenage sensation Usami.

"I don't want to talk about the players not selected," Sekizuka told reporters. "It doesn't mean I won't be looking at them in the future.

"Everyone want so to play and all the players have their strong points. Some nights I have trouble sleeping."

Japan face Kuwait on June 19 at home before the return match in Kuwait on June 23, the winners advancing to the final round of Asian qualifiers beginning in September.

Sekizuka selected Nagoya striker Kensuke Nagai, the top scorer when Japan won the gold medal at last year's Asian Games in Guangzhou.

However, he sprung a surprise by leaving out Gamba Osaka forward Usami, who was called up to the senior Japan squad for the recent Kirin Cup involving Peru and the Czech Republic.

"I have chosen players who have been in good form," Sekizuka said, overlooking the fact Usami had been deemed good enough for senior Japan duty.

"I have also selected the side based on who I feel can handle the heat in the away game in Kuwait."

Japan, bronze medallists at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, are bidding to qualify for their fifth successive Games in London next year.


Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo), Takuya Masuda (Ryutsu Keizai University), Tatsuya Morita (Kyoto Sanga), Shunsuke Ando (Kawasaki Frontale)

Defenders: Yusuke Higa (Ryutsu Keizai University), Taisuke Muramatsu (Shimizu S-Pulse), Daisuke Suzuki (Albirex Niigata), Yutaka Yoshida (Ventforet Kofu), Hiroki Sakai (Kashiwa Reysol), Mizuki Hamada (Urawa Reds), Gotoku Sakai (Albirex Niigata), Takahiro Ogihara (Cerezo Osaka)

Midfielders: Kosuke Yamamoto (Jubilo Iwata), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Cerezo Osaka), Kazuya Yamamura (Ryutsu Keizai University), Keigo Higashi (Omiya Ardija), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Kyohei Noborizato (Kawasaki Frontale)

Forwards: Kensuke Nagai (Nagoya Grampus), Ryohei Yamazaki (Jubilo Iwata), Yuya Osako (Kashima Antlers), Genki Haraguchi (Urawa Reds)