Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni on Thursday called up four strikers from a second-string team that won the East Asian Cup last month to boost the Blue Samurai's firepower when they host Guatemala and Ghana.
The J-League foursome will join Manchester United attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa and CSKA Moscow playmaker Keisuke Honda in a 23-man squad including 11 Europe-based players for the home friendlies.
Japan play Guatemala in Osaka on September 6 and Ghana in Yokohama four days later.
"As a matter of course, I have expectations for the new players," Zaccheroni said. "I will prod the team to grow as one and become more united through the two matches."
One of the four strikers is Cerezo Osaka's Yoichiro Kakitani, 23, who made his senior international debut at the East Asian Cup in South Korea, where he won the golden boot with three goals as Japan roared on with two wins and one draw.
The others, all also aged 23, are Manabu Saito (Yokohama Marinos), Masato Kudo (Kashiwa Reysol) and Yuya Osako ( Kashima Antlers). They scored a total of four goals at the regional tournament.
The fates of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh remain unknown after a deadline purportedly set by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for the release of would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for Goto passed at sunset Thursday. (The Japan News)
The Aichi Prefectural Police said Friday that the 19-year-old Nagoya University student who has admitted killing a 77-year-old woman last month apparently used her cellphone to take pictures of the victim's corpse. (Japan Times)
Manga giant Katsuhiro Otomo won the Grand Prix Award at the prestigious Angouleme International Comics Festival on Jan. 29, marking the first time that a Japanese creator took the event's top honor. (Asahi)
Police in Saitama Prefecture said Thursday they have arrested 11 people who, as part of an organized scam group, call up individuals claiming that they had missed a payment for using a website that is actually free to use. (Japan Today)
A Nagoya University student who says she killed an elderly woman found dead in the 19-year-old's apartment has also admitted poisoning a former high school classmate, investigative sources said Thursday. (Japan Times)
Paul McCartney, who had to cancel all his concerts in Japan last year due to an illness, announced on his blog Thursday that he will return to Japan for four concerts in April as part of his "Out There" world tour. (Japan Today)