TOKYO - Eccentric Japan coach Ivica Osim has triggered more dismay with his decision to call up a bare-bones squad of 12 players for next week's friendly against Cameroon.
The Bosnian continued where he left off after a string of bizarre incidents at last month's Asian Cup by naming 12 players - and not one striker - for the August 22 game in Oita.
Yesterday, the Japanese media called Osim's latest squad selection a "new record" after he picked just 13 players for his first match in charge against Trinidad & Tobago last year.
The 66-year-old is expected to add another five or six players to his party to face Cameroon, although Japanese officials were left scratching their heads after Tuesday's announcement.
"I don't think a half-baked selection is necessarily a good thing," Japan Football Association (JFA) technical director Kozo Tajima was quoted as saying.
Japan's bid for a third successive Asian Cup title came unstuck when they were beaten 3-2 in the semifinals by Saudi Arabia.
Their lack of thrust in attack was underlined when they failed to find a way past 10-man South Korea in the third-place playoff and subsequently lost in a penalty shootout.
Osim took a dim view of questions about why he opted not to include a single striker in his provisional squad for next week's Cameroon game.
"We'll see what happens in the J-League games," he said, jabbing his ballpoint pen at his inquisitors. "Scoring goals is important but we have to think of other things too."
Osim's cryptic replies have become a staple, while one verbal volley he launched at his players during the Asian Cup reduced his interpreter to tears. Osim's latest demonstration of his single-mindedness suggested more turbulence may lie ahead. - Reuters