Honda returns to Japan squad for March friendlies

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2017 file photo, Japan's coach Vahid Halilhodzic smiles during a press conference, in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, northern France. Keisuke Honda was among 26 players named on Thursday, March 15, 2018, by Japan coach Halilhodzic for two friendlies against Mali and Ukraine at the end of March. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler, File)

TOKYO — Keisuke Honda was among 26 players named by Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic on Thursday for two friendlies against Mali and Ukraine at the end of March.

Honda, who hasn't played for Japan since September's World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, has four goals in 11 games for Mexican side Pachuca this season.

Japan takes on Mali on March 23 and Ukraine on March 27. Both games will be held at Stade Maurice Dufrasne in Liege, Belgium.

Japan will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in the group stage of the World Cup. Halilhodzic hopes to simulate those matches in Group H by taking on teams with similar playing styles in the upcoming friendlies in Belgium.

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Shinji Kagawa have both been left out of the squad due to injury.

Leicester forward Shinji Okazaki, who returned to action for the Premier League side last weekend following a knee injury, has also been omitted.

A preliminary World Cup squad of 35 will be named by May 14, with the final 23 to be announced by June 4.

Must Read

Federer beats Nadal to win Shanghai Masters title

Oct 15, 2017

Roger Federer extended his winning streak over Rafael Nadal this year to four matches after beating...

Chawrasia leads in Hong Kong by 1 stroke

Nov 25, 2017

S.S.P. Chawrasia shot a 1-under 69 in the third round for a one-stroke lead at the Hong Kong Open

PGA Tour signs deal to partner Chinese firm Shankai

Dec 7, 2017

The PGA Tour has signed a deal to partner with Chinese firm Shankai Sports to manage the operations...

Fiji crushes NZ 50-7 to roll into Hong Kong 7s quarters

Apr 7, 2018

Fiji has crushed New Zealand 50-7 to complete pool play unbeaten at the Hong Kong Sevens

Verstappen, Hamilton ready tangle again in Chinese GP

Apr 12, 2018

Get set for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to tangle again in the Chinese Grand Prix

AseanCoverage is a next-gen news site focusing exclusively on online news from South East Asia.

Contact us: sales[at]aseancoverage.com