'King Kazu' offers World Cup services at 43

TOKYO - Former Japan striker Kazuyoshi Miura is offering to report for World Cup duty at the grand old age of 43 - with no hint of irony.

Still going strong with J-League second division side Yokohama FC, Miura insists he is serious about wanting to be named among Japan's stand-by players by coach Takeshi Okada.

"I was excited about the squad announcement (on Monday)," Miura told Wednesday's Nikkan Sports newspaper. "If I had been fit I would have felt a greater sense of expectation."

Miura, sidelined with an ankle injury for two months, was famously axed by Okada just before the 1998 World Cup finals in France, sparking a national debate.

"Even if there is no chance of playing I don't care," said Miura, who is Japan's second highest goalscorer with 55 goals in 89 internationals and the oldest player in the J-League.

"I'm free and if I can be of service I am here," added the former Genoa forward, dubbed "King Kazu" during his hey-day in the early 1990s when he was Asia's best-known footballer.

Okada was scheduled to name his list of seven replacements for his final 23-man squad later on Wednesday.

Asked what advice he would give younger Japan players appearing in their first World Cup, Miura said: "Dunno. I've never been to one myself!"

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