The 25-year-old made his first Japan outing for two-and-a-half years in his country’s World Cup qualifying 2-0 win at home to China, a victory that ensures they remain firmly in the frame for the Qatar finals in December. Maeda came off the bench after 58 minutes to bag only a third appearance for his full national team – and the first since a two minute run-out in a Copa America 1-1 draw with Ecuador on June 25, 2019.
The forward’s international commitments counted him out for Celtic win at Hearts, and will see him absent as they host Dundee United on Saturday and follow that up with the crucial home derby against Rangers four days later. Yet, the joint J-League golden boot winner with 23 goals in the 2021 set-up may look upon ending the long wait for a third cap as providing immediate justification for his £1.7million loan-to-buy move from Yokahama F Marinos to Ange Postecoglou’s men at the start of the January transfer window. The player followed the switch to Scotland by netting inside only four minutes of his Celtic debut to set his new team on their way to a 2-0 success at home to Hibs a week past Monday. The Celtic manager, who took him to Yokahama, revealed his contribution to the win, and that produced by fellow debutant Reo Hatate on the night, had earned the pair rave notices in their homeland.