Japan's 'Golden Generation' return for Aussie clash

When Australia takes the field against Japan next Tuesday, there are going to be some familiar faces on the opposite side of the pitch.

After fielding a very experimental line-up that lost 4-0 to Brazil in Singapore in October, coach Javier Aguirre has recalled some tried and trusted members of the Samurai Blue for games with Honduras on Friday and the Socceroos four days later.

VIDEO: Ange discusses his squad for Japan clash

Especially well-known to fans down under are long-serving midfielders Makoto Hasebe and Yasuhito Endo. Such international know-how will, Aguirre hopes, help reverse some indifferent results since he took the job in August.

The Mexican may be looking to the AFC Asian Cup in January and beyond but like any coach, he must consider results in the here and now. 

With just one win in four games so far, a lacklustre victory over Jamaica, it is perhaps not too cruel to say that some of the new players have impressed the new boss about as much as the new boss has impressed media and fans, and if rumours are to be believed, his bosses at the Japan FA.

In Toyota on Friday and then Osaka on Tuesday, there has to be improvements in both performance and results. It is understandable then that the former Atletico Madrid coach has turned to some of the players who delivered the last Asian Cup to Alberto Zaccheroni four years ago, at a similar stage of the Italian's time in Japan.

Hasebe needs no introduction to Australian fans. It was his hands, not Lucas Neill's, that lifted the continental trophy in Doha on that January night four years ago.

The 30 year-old rarely makes the headlines but has been a determined captain of the Samurai Blue since the 2010 World Cup. This coolest of midfielders keeps things simple but classy and starting attacks with his crisp passing or breaking up those of the opposition. 

He caught the eye for Urawa Reds in their 2006 league title campaign and then Asian success the following year.

That earned a move to Germany, one of the first of the current crop to head east and in 2009, he was lifting the league title with Wolfsburg. With a good World Cup a year later and a great Asian Cup six months after that, Hasebe's career looked to be entering supersonic mode.

It never quite did and he lost his regular starter status at the Wolves and was sometimes played out of position. A move to FC Nurnberg in 2013 never worked out and when the Franconians were relegated he joined Eintracht Frankfurt. Now he's fit, playing regularly and raring to go.

Endo, the long-term midfield partner, seemed to have played his last game for his country in Brazil. Now 34, there was debate as to whether he still had the energy to play for 90 minutes. Japan is hardly short of technically gifted midfielders but Aguirre has now turned to the popular veteran.

Unlike Hasebe, Endo has played all his career in Japan, the vast majority of it for Gamba Osaka. There were rumours and links to big moves overseas but for various reasons, including health, it never happened. 

Liverpool's loss was Osaka's gain as he helped the Kansai club to league and continental success and at the moment, Gamba lies second in the league thanks in no small part to the ever-present Endo.

And Atsuto Uchida also returns. The Schalke heart-throb is recognised as the number one right-back in Asian football but was contemplating retiring from the international game after the World Cup. He has returned to the fold as has centre-back Yasuyuki Konno who had something of a torrid time in Brazil.

He could revive his partnership in defence with Maya Yoshida and with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa ready to play, this is a Japan team that knows Australia well and vice versa.