WHEN JOZO SIMUNOVIC replaced Dedryck Boyata on Sunday, Celtic remarkably had two Croatian central defenders on the park -Jozo and Filip Benkovic – and that is something that the fit again Simunovic hopes we’ll see a lot more of in the games ahead.
Boyata is a big fitness doubt for the short trip to Fir Park tomorrow night to play Motherwell and if he doesn’t make it then it will be the Croatian partnership that saw out the final that will start.
That’s a prospect that Jozo relishes.
“Filip is my wee brother!” laughed Simunovic. “It is amazing for there to be two Croatian centre-halves together for Celtic.
“Finally, after four years we again are reunited.
“We had one game at Dinamo Zagreb and it was a 0-0 away draw against the team Rangers played, Osijek.
“Sunday was our second game with a second game and it was really enjoyable.
“We could never have imagined that one day we’d play together for Celtic in a winning cup final.
“We are very lucky. Filip signed for Leicester but then had a chance to join Celtic. We spoke and I told him the fans are amazing and it is a huge club.
“Zagreb is also a very big club and so that is good for your mentality. It is better than fighting for a team that is middle of the table. That is not the same.
“Filip had a good game against Aberdeen also, he really enjoyed it.” Despite looking forward to more regular game time, Simunovic has insisted that he would rather have got his chance on merit rather than because of injury.
Simunovic was keen to show his concern from his friend Dedryck Boyata, who is struggling with a thigh injury from the Final and the subject of renewed transfer speculation as the opening of the January window approaches. We have covered his situation on The Celtic Star already this morning – see HERE.
“We hope Dedryck is okay,” insisted Simunovic in his post final chat with the media. “But if me and Filip are to continue to play together then I’m sure we’ll do well.
“To be honest, I don’t care who is beside me. I just what to help the team, I want to do my best.
“I feel sorry for Dedryck. But he is, for sure, going to be back soon. He is a big part of things. The gaffer picks the team – and I want to play.
“Dedryck will probably be out of the next game. But I am ready, I just want to enjoy my football.”
After winning the first trophy of the season to add to the double treble already stacking up, Jozo isn’t dismissive of the chat about the possibility of winning the league and the Scottish Cup to create history with a Treble Treble.
“Why not? We believe in that,” he stated. “We have started very well, one trophy is already in our hands. Why can’t we do it again?
“The season is very long while the next cup starts next year. But we’ll be good. For us it is good that Rangers are good, so we can give even more.
“It brings the best out of us – and we need that. We are definitely still the strongest team in the country. We need to keep going.”
Also on The Celtic Star today…
Boyata exit? ‘He has created a market for himself,’ Rodgers…See HERE.
Jim Craig – 55,372 see Celtic beat Rangers in Cup Final…See HERE.