Celtic boss slams 'ignorance and probable agenda' behind Kyogo Furuhashi diving criticism

Ange Postecoglou has hit back at the critics who claim Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi is guilty of play-acting, accusing them of “probably having an agenda”.

Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi points to his stomach after an altercation with John Souttar. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi points to his stomach after an altercation with John Souttar. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

The Japan international has scored 14 goals and received widespread acclaim for his performances since arriving from J-League side Vissel Kobe in the summer.

However, he has also been criticised in certain quarters for going down too easily after recent incidents involving Hearts defender John Souttar and Livingston's Ayo Obileye.

Former Rangers midfielder Alex Rae claimed Furuhashi's reaction to a slap from Obileye which earned the Hoops a late penalty was “embarrassing”, while former Premier League referee Keith Hackett claimed the Celtic striker should be fined by the Scottish FA for "exaggerating".

Speaking ahead of his side’s final Europa League group fixture against Real Betis at Celtic Park on Thursday evening, the Celtic boss leapt to the defence of his striker.

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"It always amuses me when I hear these big, brave warriors sitting on the sidelines judging guys like Kyogo - who’s literally built like a jockey playing against guys who are six foot three - questioning his bravery or his courage in playing the game," he said.

"Look, I haven’t followed that narrative and it’s not something I would be interested in having meaningful discussion because it virtually is centred around ignorance and probably having an agenda. So I’m not going to do that track.

"What I will say is I would be very surprised if any people who love football, irrespective of who they support, don’t think Kyogo is great for this competition. He is certainly great for our football club; our supporters love him, which is the most important thing, even for the competition.

“He’s a great guy to have around, an absolute gentleman and beyond that I’m not brave enough to take on all these other big courageous, couch-sitting, observers of the game."

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In his clash with Souttar last week, Furuhashi indicated that the Hearts defender had grabbed him in the stomach as he lifted his shirt to referee Bobby Madden.

“I’m sure the opposition will try to stop him,” Postecoglou added.

“But I’d like to think they’re doing that in legal ways. Kyogo doesn’t expect to go out there and not get marked or not get attention, physical or otherwise.

“So that’s no issue.”

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