OKADA CALLS UP KAWAGUCHI FOR JAPAN
Japan coach Takeshi Okada has stunned 34-year-old former Portsmouth reserve goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi by recalling him for his World Cup squad.
'I thought it would be 99.9 percent impossible,' Kawaguchi told reporters Monday after Okada announced the 23-strong party which contained no major surprises except for the gutsy keeper's return to international duty.
'I am confused. I may panic if I think too much about it,' the veteran of 116 caps added.
'I will be in a position as the third-choice goalkeeper. But I will go out there to fight. I also want to care about the whole team as its oldest man.'
Kawaguchi was the main keeper in the Blue Samurai's winless World Cup finals debut at France 1998 when Okada served as national coach for the first time. He was also picked for the Germany World Cup four years ago.
But Okada replaced him with Seigo Narazaki after a Kawaguchi blunder led to a 1-0 defeat away to Bahrain in a World Cup qualifer in March 2008.
Kawaguchi has also been sidelined at his J-League side Jubilo Iwata with a leg injury he suffered in September.
'I've been watching him (Kawaguchi) even after I dropped him from the starting line-up and from the team altogether,' Okada said.