Daizen Maeda gave the perfect response to those who rubbished his inclusion in the Japan World Cup squad at the expense of someone such as, for example, club teammate Kyogo Furuhashi. While Kyogo did notch his eleventh goal in what could be termed a telling riposte after his snub the not-always-so-celebrated Maeda came on and scored what proved a clinching goal in the 2-1 win over Motherwell. Manager Ange Postecoglou is not one of those who feels Maeda is fortunate to be heading to Qatar. Questioned on whether he believes Maeda is under appreciated, Postecoglou replied as you might expect him to reply: ‘not by us, mate’. Postecoglou is a huge fan of a player whose non-stop energy is perfect for the type of football the manager wishes to play.
“It depends on what you’re looking at,” he said, when it was put to him that Maeda tends to go ‘under the radar’. “Not internally. He works so hard for the team. He’s surrounded by other attackers who are different to him. He doesn’t get the headlines. But the contribution he makes is immense. I left him out for the last couple of games to freshen him up. He was outstanding again. The subs coming on were really important for us. He finished it off. At the weekend it was Kyogo and Liel (Abada). The lads have a good attitude about rotating the team, which is not easy, because they all want to play all the time.”
Postecoglou has been sure to avoid a war of words breaking out with Scotland manager Steve Clarke. You know things are staying assuredly polite when the Celtic manager referred to his Scotland counterpart by his Sunday name of “Stephen” in an interview on radio last night.
Postecoglou, who once managed Australia of course, empathises with what Clarke described as his disappointment at the news Celtic were withholding their players from heading with Scotland for a friendly against Turkey next week. Anthony Ralston, Greg Taylor, David Turnbull and James Forrest will all be heading to Australia to compete in the Sydney Super Cup instead. Skipper Callum McGregor is currently injured.
Speaking to BBC Sportsound, Postecoglou said: "It's quite simple, Steve [Clarke] has every right to be disappointed, he is national team manager and I've been there. As a club manager we are sometimes disappointed with players who go out on national team duty and they get injured or they don't play, but we all get over our disappointment quickly I've got no issue with Stephen, I wish him all the best. The players that we are taking are important for us and important for our supporters, that's why we have taken the decision."
Hammell’s woes go on
Motherwell manager Steven Hammell has not got his worries to seek injury-wise so he could have done without the contentious nature of what proved to be Celtic’s winning goal last night. With the hosts having won a throw-in in Celtic’s half, the taker, Matt Penney, was impeded by Celtic player Sead Haksabanovic, who had been off the field. Haksabanovic had barely returned to the pitch when he headed the ball almost as soon as it left Penney’s hands and Celtic swept up field and scored to make it 2-0.
“I thought the officials should have looked at the Celtic goal as they head the ball from off the pitch! They don't even look at it,” pointed out Hammell. It was a strange one, though there can be few excuses for the hosts still conceding a goal from that position.