No Kyogo or Hatate as Hajime Moriyasu takes ‘clear pop’ as Scottish Premiership

The path from J League football to Celtic has been opened up by Ange Postecoglou as a core part of his Celtic recruitment drive, but if that is to continue Celtic’s Japanese stars will need to be satisfied they can realise their international ambitions playing in the Scottish Premiership.

Worryingly, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu has named his international squad for the Blue Samurai’s upcoming friendly clashes with Uruguay and Colombia, and just as he did with the Japan World Cup squad for Qatar, both Reo Hatate and Kyogo have once again missed out, although Daizen Maeda retains his place after scoring at the Qatar showpiece.

Japan’s forward #25 Daizen Maeda celebrates with teammates after scoring the first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Moriyasu has explained his reasoning on the players exclusion and Dan Orlowitz, ever helpful to the Celtic support as he is, kindly translated for the Japan manager’s thinking via his social media account.

“I’ve watched all of Celtic’s games and seen what they’ve accomplished and their presence in the team. But there’s no bar to clear to be called up; it’s a comprehensive decision.”

: Kyogo Furuhashi of Celtic scores his team’s second goal during the Heart of Midlothian v Celtic Scottish Cup match at Tynecastle Stadium on March 11, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

“We think about the level of the league and various other factors when making the decision. For this squad we focused on the squad from Qatar as well as some new players. There will be other call-ups. As I said, we’re trying to build strongest team possible ahead of 2026.”

“In order to do that we’re taking a wide view of how to build the team… as I think we all agree, (Reo & Kyogo) would absolutely be able to contribute to the team, but this time I wanted to try out some different players and that’s why they weren’t selected”

Moriyasu’s concern surrounding the standard of the Scottish Premiership certainly sets alarm bells ringing, but let’s be honest the standard of Scottish football is not exactly a well-kept secret, and if Celtic can qualify for Champions League football again this season, then our Japanese players, including Japanese player of the year Tomoki Iwata and Yuki Kobayashi, as well as Hatate and Kyogo, will be able to prove their international credentials of the highest stage of them all.

“He’s a very determined young man”, Ange Postecoglou on Reo Hatate

Yet Moriyasu’s thinking does raise concerns as to Celtic’s ability to not only attract but also retain players going forward. While the rest of World football seems to have embraced international recruitment, modern coaching practices and tactical advancements, Scotland, as we all too often do, remain somewhat lagging behind, indeed Celtic only really seem to have got up to speed with the arrival of Ange Postecoglou as manager.

To be fair to Moriyasu, his thinking also appears to include his already being aware of the talents of both Hatate and Kyogo, and it seems the Japanese boss is keen to use these friendly encounters to run the rule over players he hasn’t yet seen in action. And given these two encounters are both friendly internationals, then the real time for concern will be if the players are excluded when the competitive action comes around in November.

Hajime Moriyasu, Head Coach of Japan, looks on prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Japan and Croatia at Al Janoub Stadium on December 05, 2022 in Al Wakrah, Qatar. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

The reasoning behind Moriyasu’s decision however is not something to be taken lightly, and his thoughts on the standard of Scottish football is likely mirrored by other countries.

Celtic may be a big club and an attractive destination for players; however, retention is as important as attraction when it comes to building a squad going forward, and players will certainly take into consideration their international hopes when choosing a club to sign for, or indeed when deciding to remain there when offers from stronger leagues come in.

Niall J

Former Celtic captain Scott Brown spoke to the Celtic fan media yesterday including of course The Celtic Star. Here’s what happened, a really enjoyable half hour with Broony talking to Celtic supporters with not a hack in sight…


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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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