Japan pull out of Copa America

Earthquake leaves Asian champions unable to take up invitation

Zaccheroni: Denied South American test

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Japan have been forced to withdraw from this year's Copa America tournament.

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The Asian giants were invited to make a second appearance in the South American competition in Argentina this July.

Last month, JFA general secretary Kozo Toshima claimed they would field a side despite the earthquake that has devastated Japan's Pacific coast.

But JFA president Junji Ogura confirmed on Monday that Japan would be unable to compete after all, with rebuilding their nation their top priority.

Japan were invited along with regular guests Mexico but their withdrawal leaves the tournament a team short just three months before it begins in Argentina in July.

Fixtures suspended

The J-League has been forced to suspend fixtures until April 23 and the rearranged games would be played in July, meaning coach Alberto Zaccheroni would only have been able to take a weakened squad to South America.

The Blue Samurai won a record fourth Asian Cup in January and the Copa America would have been ideal preparation for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, should they qualify.

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