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Old 17-05-2011, 18:27   #34
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Costa Rica to contest Copa America with U-23 side as Japan confirm absence

Costa Rica are set to replace Japan in the Copa America after the Samurai Blue confirmed their absence, but the Central American nation would only travel with a team formed from Under 23 and locally-based players due to Gold Cup commitments.

As revealed on Monday evening, the head of the Japanese FA Junji Ogura sent a letter to his Argentine counterpart Julio Grondona explaining that his side would be unable to attend the tournament. As the missive explained, the Asian side's presence was made impossible by the refusal of many European clubs to release players for the South American tournament.

The original idea was to play with J-League representatives, but due to a six week suspension made necessary by the devastating natural disasters which hit Japan earlier in 2011 the league will continue in July, meaning the Japanese FA could not field a competitive squad in Argentina.

Ole subsequently report that Costa Rica, currently coached by Argentine Ricardo La Volpe, have been chosen to fill the 12th spot in the tournament, and will later today receive an official invitation to join Group A alongside the hosts, Colombia and Bolivia. The local federation, however, according to the newspaper, have already made the decision to leave the nation's biggest stars at home.

The bulk of the side will be youngsters under the age of 23, with five over-age players permitted. These will most likely be from the Costa Rican leagues, unless foreign-based players such as Junior Diaz and Bryan Ruiz can get permission from their clubs to travel.
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