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Zaccheroni names strong Japan squad for friendly

Alberto Zaccheroni's men continue their preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on March 5 against New Zealand, who missed out on this year's tournament after losing a play-off with Mexico.

Italian coach Zaccheroni has been forced to make changes due to injuries to captain Makoto Hasebe and Schalke full-back Atsuto Uchida.

Those absences have allowed Jubilo Iwata defender Komano and Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Aoyama the chance to stake a claim for a place at the World Cup finals.

Milan playmaker Keisuke Honda and Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa are also been included in a strong 23-man squad as Zaccheroni's men look to build on recent strong performances against the Netherlands and Belgium.

Japan drew 2-2 with the Netherlands before beating Belgium 3-2, with Honda on target in both games.

After the New Zealand game, Japan face Cyprus in May prior to departing for the World Cup in Brazil, where they have been drawn in Group C alongside Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia.

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds), Shuichi Gonda (FC Tokyo)

Defenders: Yuichi Komano (Jubilo Iwata), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Masahiko Inoha (Jubilo Iwata), Yuto Nagatomo (Inter), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart)

Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Hajime Hosogai (Hertha Berlin), Toshihiro Aoyama (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Keisuke Honda (Milan), Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Nuremberg), Manabu Saito (Yokohama F Marinos), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka)

Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Yoichiro Kakitani (Cerezo Osaka), Masato Kudo (Kashiwa Reysol), Yuya Osako (1860 Munich)