Japan call up for Maeda gives Giakoumakis his chance to shine at Celtic

With Daizen Maeda being named in Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu’s 23-man squad for his country’s World Cup qualifiers with China and Saudi Arabia this morning, Celtic may find themselves with a lack of striking options for the upcoming Scottish Premiership ties with Hearts, Dundee United and of course the Glasgow Derby with theRangers on 2 February.

However, with Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi not named in the squad the impact on Ange Postecoglou’s group is not as bad as it may have been.

Photo: Andrew Milligan. IMago/PA Images

With Tom Rogic, having been included in the Australian squad announced yesterday, there were concerns Celtic may also be light in numbers in midfield for these crucial matches, particularly with David Turnbull still out injured with his own hamstring injury. Instead, the availability of both Japanese midfielders may be crucial and is a further vindication of Ange Postecoglou’s work in the transfer window being completed so soon. That addition of Matt O’Riley from MK Dons may also now seem a very prudent and timely addition to the squad.

Moriyasu has also thankfully declined the option to call on the services of Kyogo Furuhashi, with Japanese journalist Dan Orlowitz quoting Moriyasu as citing the player’s current injury issue as the reason not to ask Kyogo to travel.

“We don’t know the details about his injury. But because it’s at the level where we were concerned about whether he’d be able to contribute to the team we decided not to call him up this time.”

The loss of Daizen Maeda is of course a blow, however with Furuhashi not being selected the chances of Maeda being called in as a goalscoring threat for Japan was always likely and Moriyasu clearly sees Kyogo’s goal threat being suitably covered by Daizen Maeda.

“What I expect from him are goals. He scored shortly into his debut for Celtic and he was the J1 (co-)top scorer last season. That’s what I want from him.”

For one Celtic player, the Japanese call ups create the ideal opportunity to shine.

Giorgos Giakoumakis made an appearance against Hibs on Monday night and after a frustrating stop-start opening to his Celtic career, due to a mixture of a missed pre-season and unfortunate injuries picked up, it now appears all Giakoumakis needs now is to get the match sharpness he has up to now been denied, through no fault of his own, and a chance to make an impression.

 Giorgos Giakoumakis of Celtic celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Celtic FC and St. Johnstone FC at on October 23, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It seems the Greek striker who was the top scorer in the Dutch top flight last season, will surely now get a run of games in the side and a chance to show the goalscoring touch he evidenced in the Netherlands can transfer to Celtic.

Indeed, it may well be Giakoumakis will start out on his road to proving his abilities as a Celtic striker against Alloa tonight in the Scottish Cup. With the loss of Daizen Maeda to Japan after tonight’s game, it seems the ideal opportunity to get match sharpness into Giakoumakis and hopefully a goal or two to get him up and running ahead of three huge fixtures ahead.

Niall J

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As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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