Japan expected to name World Cup squad on May 31

FILE - In this March 27, 2018, file photo, Japan's national team poses for a team picture prior to an international friendly soccer match between Japan and Ukraine at Maurice Dufrasne Stadium in Liege, Belgium. Japan is expected to name its 23-man squad for the World Cup on May 31, several days ahead of the June 4 deadline set by soccer's world governing body FIFA. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys, File)

TOKYO — Japan is expected to name its 23-man squad for the World Cup on May 31, several days ahead of the June 4 deadline.

Japanese Football Association spokesman Hiroshi Tada said Tuesday the 35-player provisional list has been filed with FIFA. He said that list will not be released.

Tada said Japan will name a squad on Friday for an international friendly on May 30 against Ghana in Yokohama. The final 23-man squad is expected to be announced the next day.

In two World Cup warm-up matches, Japan will face Switzerland on June 8 in Lugano, Switzerland, and Paraguay on June 12 in Innsbruck, Austria.

Japan faces a stiff challenge. It fired Vahid Halilhodzic as coach last month, only two months before the World Cup opens, and replaced him with Akira Hishino.

Japan will be playing in its sixth straight World Cup, but has only twice reached the knockout round, losing both times in the last 16. It reached the last 16 in 2002 under French coach Philippe Troussier, and again in 2010 under Japanese coach Takeshi Okada.

Japan will play in Group H at the World Cup with Colombia, Poland and Senegal.

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