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Soccer: Teen talent Kubo named to Japan's national squad for 1st time

This file photo taken in April 2019 shows 17-year-old FC Tokyo talent Takefusa Kubo, 2nd from left, playing in a J-League football match at home to Kashima Antlers. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Seventeen-year-old J-League star Takefusa Kubo on Thursday received his first call-up to Japan's senior national squad for next month's friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador.

Kubo, an attacking midfielder for J1 side FC Tokyo, was one of three uncapped players named to the squad, joining Yuta Nakayama, 22, a center-back with Dutch first-division club PEC Zwolle, and Sanfrecce Hiroshima goalkeeper Keisuke Osako, 19.

"We want to incorporate a new generation (of players) and give them deeper exposure to our team tactics," Samurai Blue manager Hajime Moriyasu said.

Japan will host Trinidad and Tobago on June 5 at Toyota Stadium before facing El Salvador four days later at Hitomebore Stadium Miyagi in northeastern Japan.

The pair of friendlies will serve as a warmup for the June 14 to July 7 Copa America in Brazil, where Japan will play as an invited nation.

Veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima returns to the Japan squad for the friendlies following a roughly year-long absence from the national team. The 36-year-old glove-man for French side Strasbourg last played for the Samurai Blue at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Kubo, who was invited to the Barcelona youth academy at age 9, is considered a likely selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, where the men's soccer tournament will be contested by under-23 teams with a limited number of overage players.

A native of Kawasaki near Tokyo, Kubo in March last year became the youngest goal scorer in the history of the Japanese league cup at 16 years and nine months, netting for FC Tokyo in a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata.

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