Celtic player makes honest admission about selection

Japan v Croatia: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Japan v Croatia: Round of 16 - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 / Visionhaus/GettyImages

The AFC Asian Cup tournament was always going to have a big impact on Celtic. They have several players away from Glasgow with their national teams and they will miss some important games for the Hoops. How many matches of course depends on how far their side progresses through the tournament.

The impact on the club is slightly different from what we anticipated in December. The Japan national team manager, Hajime Moriyasu, delivered a couple of surprises when he named his squad.

Daizen Maeda was in there as expected, having played a key part at the World Cup as well. Kyogo Furuhashi missed out once again, while despite spending weeks out with injury, Reo Hatate was selected. 

That must have come as a surprise to Hatate as well. He has not been a regular for the Blue Samurai by any means. The AFC Asian Cup is his first major tournament with the Japan national team. He has not had a great season with Celtic either, having struggled with both injuries and inconsistent form.

Celtic player makes honest admission about selection

Hatate did return to the bench for the win over the Rangers on December 30 but was not brought on. He did make an appearance for the last 19 minutes of the win against St Mirren before the winter break.

Hatate was very honest about his selection. As reported by Glasgow Times, he said:

"Honestly, I thought it was going to be very difficult for me to make the squad because I have not started a game for Celtic for a long time.

"So to be included in a major tournament for the first time as a Japan player is a dream come true."

The tournament kicked off for Japan with a 4-2 win against Vietnam. Both Hatate and Maeda were in the matchday squad, but neither got any game time. Next up are group matches with Iraq and Indonesia.

Hopefully, Hatate and Maeda will get their chances in those games. Japan have high hopes of going beyond the group stages too, and possibly even winning the tournament. The Blue Samurai are certainly one of the favourites.