The decision to move the Kirin Challenge Cup competition from the Far East to Dusseldorf in Germany this autumn is excellent news for Ange Postecoglou and the Celtic support. Japan will take on USA and Ecuador in the competition which will act as a World Cup warm-up and give the national team managers a chance to have a look at their options ahead of announcing their squad for the World Cup in Qatar.
From a Celtic perspective that means that these games will be vital to Kyogo, Daizen Maeda and perhaps Reo Hatate in the Japan squad and also Cameron Carter-Vickers for the United States.
Celtic will play our second Champions League match of the group stages on 13/14 September then will make the short journey down the M8 to play St Mirren on 17 September before the international break kicks in. And for the Japan and United States stars in the Celtic squad this will mean much shorter flights as they gather in Germany for these Kirin Challenge Cup matches.
Japan v United States will take place in Dusseldorf on Friday 23 September then on Tuesday 27 September it’s Japan v Ecuador with both games having afternoon kick-offs (Celtic Park time) to suit the Japanese broadcasters.
As well as two Champions League matches in September Celtic play three Scottish Premiership games, at home to theRangers (3 September) and Livingston (10 September) before that trip to Paisley to play St Mirren.
In October the Champions League action will continue and there are five league games – home matches against Motherwell (1 October) and Hibs (15 October) and away-days to Perth to play St Johnstone on 8 October, Edinburgh to face Hearts (22 October) and then it’s Livingston on 29 October.
The quarter finals of the Premier Sports Cup, the League Cup in old money, take place between 18-20 October and if Celtic beat Ross County at the end of this month, we’ll be involved in that too.
Add three Champions dates in October and it’s going to be a busy month, so having four players staying in Europe in the September international break is a huge boost for Celtic.