Liel Abada was missing from the Celtic squad today for the Scottish Cup tie against St Mirren in Paisley with his manager Brendan Rodgers stating that he was out as the player was not in the right frame of mind at the moment to have played his part for Celtic.
The Bhoys – without Abada’s assistance – were more than capable of winning and goals from Japanese internationalists Kyogo and Daizen Maeda meant that Celtic were included in this afternoon’s Scottish Cup quarter final tie, and earning a home against Livingston, with that game to be played next month.
Whether Liel Abada will be available for that match is anyone’s guess, and Brendan Rodgers had the consolation today of increasing his squad’s strength even with Abada missing due to the return of South Korean international stars Oh and Yang. Both forwards were at the Asian Cup with Korea and arrived back at the end of the week. Both featured from the bench in today’s win over St Mirren, who certainly gave Celtic a strong test, particularly in the first half.
Abada came off the bench at Easter Road in midweek and was clearly out of sorts in his performance, then refused to acknowledge the travelling Celtic support at the final whistle, instead heading straight down the tunnel. Abada’s issue is thought to be with the Celtic support and this has been caused by anti-Celtic feedback from his homeland with many Celtic supporters openly supporting the Palestinian cause for many years, well before Liel Abada signed for the club.
Speaking about Abada after the game this afternoon Brendan Rodgers had this to say about the Israeli international winger, who put pen to paper on a new Celtic deal in September 2023.
“He wasn’t in a right frame of mind,” Brendan said at Paisley today. “I’ve spoken a lot to Liel and it has been a challenging time for him. I just felt when he came into the game the other night, it just wasn’t him.
“So we gave him this chance to have a few days and clear his mind. I’ll have a chat with him again next week, see where he’s at.”
If Abada was in the right frame of mind before the game at Easter Road or not isn’t clear but you would imagine this isn’t something new. Celtic got a late penalty award which Adam Idah brilliantly scored to give Celtic the vital three points, which were absolutely essential in this title race.
If Liel Abada isn’t in the right frame of mind to play for Celtic then he shouldn’t play for Celtic again until everyone making the decisions at the club is completely satisfied that he will be focused and prepared to give 100%. Abada was essentially a passenger at Easter Road, a passenger on a very large salary. There can be no room for passengers in the Celtic first team squad, never has been and never will be.
Had we dropped points on Wednesday night the situation would be much worse than it is and ultimately this is down to Brendan Rodgers – he picks the team and could and should have been aware of Abada’s state of mind ahead of selecting him ahead of, for instance Rocco Vata, to come off the bench.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see ay resolution for this other than Abada moving on in the summer. Having always supported him and going out of our way to give him a huge and warm ovation in the previous round of the cup, Abada should be well aware that the Celtic support likes him, appreciates him and values him as a Celtic player up to this point.
Others – outside voices with their own agendas – have soiled this relationship but it is not of the Celtic support’s doing. We often praise Brendan Rodgers for his man-management skills, not on this occasion though. He made a huge error of judgement on Wednesday night, playing Abada when he was clearly not in the right frame of mind. And it was happening in plain site.
His refusal to acknowledge the support is bad mannered to say the least, but we can accept that slight. What the Celtic support is not prepared to accept is a non-trier costing us points and that is much more likely to happen when there is a weak link in the side. Lucky for all concerned that never happened at Easter Road but it was a very close call, thanks to Adam Idah’s penalty kicking hitting the back of the Hibs net.
It’s going to be a long way back for Liel Abada. If that is going to happen he needs to get fully focused on his football and appreciate that he’s there to do a job for the club paying his wages. If he doesn’t want to play for our club he should never be given another chance.