- Associated Press - Monday, December 15, 2014

TOKYO (AP) - Japan coach Javier Aguirre opted for experience Monday when he named his 23-man squad for next month’s Asian Cup, where the defending champion will be bidding for a record fifth title.

Aguirre named Europe-based regulars including Keisuke Honda of AC Milan, Shinji Okazaki of Mainz and Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund for the January 9-31 tournament in Australia.

Drawn in Group D with Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, Japan has dominated the continental competition over the past two decades, winning in 1992, 2000, 2004 and 2011.

Aguirre insisted Monday his team won’t be distracted by Spanish media reports that authorities in Spain are moving to prosecute him and some 30 others on suspicion of fixing a league game against Levante when the 56-year-old Mexican managed Zaragoza in May 2011.

“At the Asian Cup I will just be concentrating on the sports and competition side of things,” said Aguirre, when asked about the allegations that he denied in a meeting with the Japan Football Association.



Aguirre selected Hannover midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake for the first time since taking over as Japan coach. Veteran striker Yoshito Okubo, who led the J-League with 18 goals this season, was not included.

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Japan Squad

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Standard Liege), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Shusaku Nishikawa (Urawa Reds).

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan), Masato Morishige (FC Tokyo), Kosuke Ota (FC Tokyo), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima), Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Gen Shoji (Kashima Antlers).

Midfielders: Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka), Yasuyuki Konno (Gamba Osaka), Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund), Hiroshi Kiyotake (Hannover), Gaku Shibasaki (Kashima Antlers)

Forwards: Yohei Toyoda (Sagan Tosu), Shinji Okazaki (Mainz), Keisuke Honda (AC Milan), Yu Kobayashi (Kawasaki Frontale), Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yoshinori Muto (FC Tokyo).

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