Okada reveals Japan World Cup certs
Japan coach Takeshi Okada has revealed that Europe-based players Keisuke Honda, Makoto Hasebe and Daisuke Matsui are guaranteed places in his World Cup squad as long as they stay fit.
Okada views the three players as crucial to Japan's hopes of progressing from a tricky group including Cameroon, the Netherlands and Denmark.
"Their places on the team are not on the line unless there are problems with injury," Okada said before departing for Moscow to begin a three-nation trip to see the three midfielders play.
Honda has been in impressive for CSKA Moscow since signing from Dutch club VVV-Venlo in January, scoring twice in four league games and helping the Russian club to the quarter-finals of the Champions League before exiting at the hands of Inter Milan.
Japan took six Europe-based players to the 2006 World Cup but it will be just three this time with Hionda likely to be joined by VfL Wolfsburg's Hasebe and Grenoble's Matsui when the Japanese Football Association announces its World Cup squad between May 10 and 14.