Ange Postecoglou's reveals Celtic's target for rest of season and hails 'remarkable' feat
Following the 2-0 success away to Ross County on Sunday that continued their imperious form, victory in Saturday’s hosting of Rangers would stretch Celtic’s cinch Premiership lead over their rivals to 12 points. With only seven top flight games beyond this match-up, a 29th win from 31 league encounters at the weekend would make them a shoo-in to retain the championship.
Postecoglou, though, is setting his sights higher. His team’s current 85 points total is the second highest in the annals of Scottish football at the 30-game mark – only Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic invincibles eclipsing the tally at the same stage through then sitting on 86 points in their treble-winning 2016-17. In that campaign, they ended with an all-time Scottish record points total of 106. Postecoglou’s men, themselves chasing a clean sweep with a Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers on April 30, can finish with 109 points, and the Australian doesn’t blanche from setting that as an ultimate objective.
“With eight games to go, there are 24 points we want to get, and that’s our target,” Postecoglou said. “It is a remarkable run [we have been on] because there have been some brilliant sides in Scottish football but this team has surpassed those teams in terms of starts for a season. But just as pleasing is the level, with good, strong performances every week.”
The defeat dished out at Dingwall was earned with Postecoglou giving a first league start to Tomoki Iwata. In doing so the Japanese midfielder – selected with Aaron Mooy and Reo Hatate both sidelined by injury – became the 25th player to make Celtic’s starting line-up for a cinch Premiership this season. Iwata made an immediate impression and it has been the ability of the 57-year-old to derive effective contributions from all corners of his squad that he believes has been key to their consistency within their home borders. A domain in which a 2-0 league loss away to St Mirren in mid-September represents the League Cup winners only domestic reverse in 37 outings. “That is credit to the group – and it is the group,” he said. “Everyone has chipped in, and that was the case again [in the County game]. Guys coming into the team have helped and that is testament to the group.”
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