Ange Postecoglou on what Yuki Kobayashi and Tomoki Iwata will bring to Celtic

Ange Postecoglou introduced Alistair Johnston at the first possible opportunity in the controversial 2-2 draw at Ibrox where Celtic were cheated out of a penalty kick by yet another refereeing and VAR decision going against us. That resulted in the first couple of points dropped since the introduction of VAR but the draw remained a better result for Celtic as the nine points advantage at the top of the league looking down on theRangers was preserved.

These match officials since being tooled up by the introduction of VAR into the Scottish Premiership in early October have thrown everything they’ve got including a few kitchen sinks at Celtic in what feels like a game by game basis and still they’ve not been able to achieve the desired result as Celtic turned around glaring (dis)honest mistakes to win all the matches up until Monday. That Kyogo equaliser must have seen their bitter hearts sink.

It was all too much for Ange Postecoglou who abandoned his previous position about not talking about VAR to come out all guns blazing at yesterday’s media conference ahead of today’s match against Kilmarnock where a win will see Celtic increase our lead to 12 points.

While Johnston, who had been playing football at the World Cup, got an early start we might have to wait to see our two other January signings in action. Yuki Kobayashi has been training both Celtic since the squad re-assembled after the World Cup break but will have to wait to be introduced over the next few weeks while Tomoki Iwata only left Japan yesterday making his way to Glasgow where he is expected to be introduced to the support at today’s match against Kilmarnock.

KOBE, JAPAN – MARCH 15: Yuki Kobayashi of Vissel Kobe in action during the AFC Champions League qualifying playoff match between Vissel Kobe and Melbourne Victory at Noevir Stadium Kobe on March 15, 2022 in Kobe, Hyogo,Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

“Yuki Kobayashi has been training with us for two or three weeks now and he joined us in Portugal. He hasn’t had a competitive game for quite a while, so it’s just about introducing him at the right time. He’ll get an opportunity over the coming weeks. It’s just about picking the right time for him, but in terms of training, he’s good.

SAITAMA, JAPAN – AUGUST 18: Tomoki Iwata of Yokohama F.Marinos controls the ball under pressure of Nanasei Iino of Vissel Kobe during the AFC Champions League Round of 16 match between Vissel Kobe and Yokohama F.Marinos at Saitama Stadium on August 18, 2022 in Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

On Tomoki Iwata, who Ange Postecoglou confirmed should be at the game this afternoon, his ability to play in multiple positions continues a recent trend in Celtic signings that has real strategic benefits for the squad with a heavy fixture schedule every season.

“Iwata should be at the game on Saturday. He’ll need a bit of work, but knowing the player and the person well, he’ll be working really hard to be ready as quickly as possible. The first thing is getting him settled in here and I’m sure he’ll be contributing before long. He’s a really intelligent footballer. He takes in information really well and is very disciplined.

Tomoki Iwata at the departure gate yesterday morning as he began his journey to Celtic Park

“The way we were playing at the time at Yokohama, with that double six, I felt he could be a really good player. In Japan, a lot of teams tend to play on the counter-attack, so I thought he could be a really good extra layer of defensive security for us. But he’s also very good on the ball technically and a very powerful runner.

“I knew he could play two or three positions — full-back, centre-back and as a six. If you look at his record at Yokohama even after I left, he’s done all those roles really well for them. We’ll let him grow into it here.

“As well as building a team, you’re also building a squad. For the challenges we have — and we’ve already done it with two or three players we’ve brought in — having guys who can play more than one position is vital. We’re always going to have some fixture congestion and chopping and changing, so having a player there who can play two or three positions will help our squad a lot,” Ange noted.

“He may settle into one position where he feels most comfortable, but even within that context I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play different positions.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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