SINGAPORE - Japan may be unable to pick
their strongest squad for the Copa America in July but the Asian
Cup holders have pledged not to pull out of the tournament for a
"Which ever players we choose I'm confident we will be able
to form a team of high calibre," Japan Football Association
(JFA) vice-president Kozo Tashima told Reuters in an interview
"It (another withdrawal) will not happen. The level of our
players is very much better. In the Asian Cup (this year) we
couldn't get all our best players but still we produced
Japan, invited to the Copa as a guest team, are likely to be
without some key players after reversing their original decision
to withdraw from the tournament which will be held in Argentina.
European clubs, in particular, are reluctant to release
their players for the Copa.
"The players want to play the highest level of football,"
said Tashima who is in Singapore to promote cooperation between
its Football Association and the JFA.
"The Copa America is the oldest continental tournament, very
traditional. Normally we cannot play in (such) high level
matches and almost all the players want to participate."
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund do not want midfielder
Shinji Kagawa to play in Argentina while Schalke 04 full-back
Atsuto Uchida and VfB Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki seem
unlikely to travel.
Japan's domestic J-League are also unable to release players
with the season having been postponed following last month's
deadly earthquake and tsunami.
"The clubs and the national team are like two pillars
working together. We have to respect each other," said Tashima.
"It is not about which is more important or which is less
He added the JFA does not expect world football's ruling body
FIFA to bend its rules and make European clubs release their
Tashima said he could only hope to secure the services of
Japanese internationals through negotiations with their
Japan, who won their fourth Asian Cup in January, are ranked
13th in the world.
They have been drawn to play hosts Argentina, Bolivia and
Colombia in Group A of the Copa.
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