“I love them all equally” – Ange Postecoglou on Celtic’s Japanese Bhoys

Ange Postecoglou had reason to praise three of his Japanese Celtic stars at yesterday’s media conference ahead of the Scottish Premiership match against St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park.


Celtic v Livingston – Daizen Maeda in action during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park,  Wednesday February 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

Asked if he has noticed an increase in Daizen Maeda’s confidence since returning from his World Cup adventures with Japan, the Celtic manager reckoned that this was a fair assessment.

“I think that is a fair assessment. I obviously know Daizen from coaching him in Japan. I have never thought that he lacked confidence and have always felt he had a lot of self-belief. I just think he is now taking a lot of responsibility.

“The one thing people have noticed since day one is that he is a very selfless player. He will do things for the team and will work hard both defensively and offensively.

Celtic’s Australian coach Harry Kewell leads a training session at Lennoxtown. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images) 

“Harry Kewell has done a lot of work with him that has helped him. The World Cup has added an air of confidence to him but I think it is more about Daizen wanting to take more responsibility and an active role in being a protagonist And still doing selfless work for his team-mates. He has been outstanding for us.


Celtic v Livingston Reo Hatate and Livingston’s James Penrice battle for the ball during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park,  Wednesday February 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

The Celtic manager was then asked about the quotes from Reo Hatate ‘s personal diary that were featured in the press yesterday morning relating to approaching Ange after his World Cup snub and asked how he could better himself. Reo stated that Ange said to him to improve in the final third. “Since that conversation, he has registered two goals and six assists. Is that something that has pleased you?’ Ange was asked.

“Yes. He got his two goals from the full-back position. I think he took it literally when I said that! Look I think it is part of his game and all the coaches have individual responsibilities and he falls under Gavin Strachan’s portfolio.

Gavin Strachan. Photo for The Celtic Star by Vagelis Georgariou

“Gavin will be the first to tell you that Reo is always the first in the door after a game asking for feedback. He is just that kind of player as he is constantly asking how he can improve and what areas he can get better in.

“I haven’t had too many conversations with him. Usually, when he comes to see me he just wants a clear direction. Last year I felt that his fitness levels weren’t where they should be and I felt he was dying in the last part of the games and he worked really hard on that. I think he is a lot better this year and a lot stronger.

“He asked me what the next layer is. I said to him for him to be the player he wants to be, and I know he has got it in him as he has always played in an attacking way, he has to have greater attacking output as he gets into such great areas. I am not dropping any pearls of wisdom as he knows the areas that he is constantly looking to improve.

Reo Hatate celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal which was then wrongly judged to be offside by VAR during the Viaplay Cup Semi-final match between Celtic and Kilmarnock at Hampden Park on January 14, 2023 . (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“For me, it is just about making sure they also understand that all these things happen in time and with hard work and the right attitude. It is not just about me saying something and the players putting it into practice. I had one conversation with him but I guarantee that somebody like Gav (Strachan) has probably had one hundred conversations with him to make sure that all the information gets to him and he uses it well.”


Celtic v Livingston – Kyogo Furuhashi scores the third goal of the game during the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Wednesday February 1, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

it is not just about his goals, it is his work rate, his movement

After Ange’s initial comments on Kyogo (previously reported here) Ange Postecoglou was subsequently asked about the form that Kyogo has been in and the goals that he has scored and done that make him undroppable at the minute?

“I don’t know what dropped or undroppable means as I’ve never thought in those terms,” Ange admitted.  “Every player starts the week on the same level and then I assess things as we go along. I hate to think that Kyogo doesn’t play as if he is undroppable much in the same way that Callum McGregor doesn’t play as if he’s undroppable or Joe Hart. They don’t train like they are undroppable.

 Kyogo Furuhashi of Celtic celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the Scottish Cup Fourth Round match between Celtic and Greenock Morton at Celtic Park  on January 21, 2023 .(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“It is not something that is in my vocabulary or something that I try and set up in my environment. I said about Kyogo it is not just about his goals, it is his work rate, his movement the other night I thought was exceptional in terms of him playing in a very congested area and he was still finding pockets of space to break through and I thought we found him really well.

“I know people love cliches but there is no best eleven, there is no one that is undroppable, and there is no one that is my favourite. I love them all equally.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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