The Japan Football Association announced Monday it will send 23 Under-19 players to the country’s World Cup base in Russia to help the national team train and gain a better sense of the tournament, which begins Thursday.

FC Tokyo midfielder Takefusa Kubo and Sagan Tosu forward Kyosuke Tagawa are among the players who will join the Samurai Blue in camp in the city of Kazan during a 12-day tour that starts Sunday. The U-19 squad will also watch Japan’s matches against Colombia and Senegal during the tournament.

The JFA is sending U-19 players to Japan’s World Cup base for the first time in a bid to create an opportunity for younger talent to get a better understanding of the world’s largest soccer tournament.

It also serves as a chance for the young squad to play a pair of friendlies against local clubs.

The 17-year-old Kubo, who has played for Barcelona’s youth team, became the youngest scorer in the history of Japan’s league cup at age 16 when he scored for FC Tokyo during a Levain Cup match in March. Kubo and Tagawa will be pushing for a place in Japan’s team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Samurai Blue open their World Cup campaign against Colombia in the city of Saransk on June 19. Japan will then face Senegal in Ekaterinburg on June 24 before playing its final group match against Poland in Volgograd on June 28.

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