Mitsuo Ogasawara has been thrown a World Cup lifeline by Japanese national coach Takeshi Okada.
Ogasawara, a star midfielder with Japanese club Kashima Antlers, was named Wednesday to Okada's squad for Japan's exhibition match against Venezuela on Feb. 2 in Oita.
Ogasawara, 30, is the reigning MVP of the Japanese league and has earned over 50 caps for Japan, but he hasn't played for his country since the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Okada's decision to include Ogasawara in his roster for the Venezuela game could open the door for veteran midfielder to earn a place in Japan's squad for this year's World Cup in South Africa.
"We know his abilities very well," Okada told FIFA.com.
"It was just a matter of timing with regards to his call-up. I would like to play him as attacking midfielder rather than a defensive one like he plays for his club and I hope he can show his presence in the team."
Japan will play in Group E in South Africa with games against Cameroon (June 14), the Netherlands (June 19) and Denmark (June 24).