The Japanese forward – who is currently in Qatar preparing for the World Cup next week – came under fire from certain sections of the Celtic support for some of his performances this season, but the 25-year-old signed off ahead of the break by scoring goals against Hearts and Motherwell to help the defending cinch Premiership build up a nine-point lead at the summit of the league. He says a key part of his improved display has been the work he has done with Australian Kewell, who was added to the Glasgow club’s coaching staff by Ange Postecoglou this summer and is clearly a big hit with the playing squad.
"I had some difficult weeks and months, but I had some very good support from our coaching staff,” said Maeda. “I have been working on it with them and I really appreciate what they are doing for me. Each of them has supported me. But especially Harry Kewell. He has been sharing his experience with me and we have been watching videos together. We have been having sessions and this is something which helps me a lot.
"Throughout my professional career and indeed my whole time in football I have not met a coach like Harry. So it’s thanks to him that I am really enjoying my football and improving my skills. It’s down to Harry that I started to change my approach and performing better. Thanks to Harry.
“He is very good at establishing relationships with the players. He can verbalise clearly our good points and bad points. We’ll sit and watch the videos and he will explain to me very clearly where I can be better and what I need to do. It’s a good situation for me. It’s because of this that I feel I am really enjoying my football right now.”
Japan are in Group E at the World Cup alongside Spain, Germany and Costa Rica. Their first match is on Wednesday against the Germans and Maeda is targeting a victory against the former world champions. "I think we have chances,” added Maeda. “The first game against Germany will be very important. We are targeting victory in that match and hopefully that will put us in a good rhythm.”