Celtic’s Japanese Bhoys Should Not Regret International “Snub.” The National Coach Might.

Image for Celtic’s Japanese Bhoys Should Not Regret International “Snub.” The National Coach Might.

To say that the commentariat who follows the Japanese national team are shocked at the omissions of Kyogo and Hatate is an understatement. The general feeling is actually closer to outrage. When you look at the players in their place – in particular those keeping Kyogo out of the side – you can completely understand why.

The arguments this guy is putting forward for rejecting our players are all over the place. During the World Cup preparations, he said he wanted to prioritise players who played in their domestic league. Fair enough. But that was flatly contradicted by the squad he eventually picked. Then during the World Cup he offered up a squad depth argument.

But I ask myself; would Kyogo have gotten them past Croatia? I think so. They would certainly have offered more than the powder-puff stuff that they gave in that match. It is hard to imagine them being worse against Costa Rica had he been available and in the squad. The results against Germany and Spain were exceptional, even miraculous … but still the nagging questions remain.

This time he has offered up a bizarre suggestion that the strength of the national leagues is taken into consideration. But how do you judge that? Based on what? Is the German second tier – from which he has plucked a midfield player – really superior to the SPL? Based on whose data? Based on whose presumption? And if this is true … why the Hell is Maeda in the squad?

There is something about certain national coaches which needles international fans. They have an inherent bias towards so-called “bigger leagues.” At least when he was talking about playing domestic based players you could nod your head and think “Yeah, that makes sense, and it’s good for their national game.” But he didn’t follow through on it.

Steve Clarke is one of the guys who continually appals me with some of his selection decisions, preferring players even in England’s second tier to some of those who are doing really well in our domestic game. Observe the early lunacy of choosing Oli McBurnie, perhaps the most ineffectual striker ever to get a game for Scotland … 16 matches and zero goals, with ten of those under the ex-Kilmarnock boss.

And based on what? Certainly not his scoring record. Based on reputation and the “level of opposition.” Yeah who were all too good for him as his scoring record in club football is little better than that in the international set-up.

At the moment, Moriyasu is seen as walking on water because of their very good showing at the World Cup, but tensions exist. Their 2019 Asian Cup defeat at the hands of Qatar was a searing experience and it put him under real pressure.

Before the World Cup kicked off, The Japan Times had the Japanese football federation considering other candidates, and their stated goal before a ball was kicked was – as ambitious as this will sound – reaching the Quarter Finals, which he actually failed to do, beating Germany and Spain notwithstanding. So he’s not Mr Popular there.

The competition they are about to enter – the Kirin Cup – isn’t exactly prestigious, but it’s hosted in Japan and they expect to win it. Last year they lost 3-0 to Tunisia in the final, which along with the Asian Cup disaster is a black mark against his name.

The thing with contentious decisions is that when you make them you have to be right. Because if people are already questioning you for them they will be virtually screaming if things start to go wrong. So he’s got to nail this and I think, at least in his choices for the forward line, leaving Kyogo out is a ridiculous decision which he’ll be flayed for.

Hatate is, at least, competing with some top, top players as the World Cup proved, where I thought their midfield was comfortably the strongest part of their team. Still, Asian football journalists are flabbergasted at his exclusion and that, too, will be hung around Moriyasu’s neck if things don’t click in these two internationals which are coming up.

I can’t pretend to be too disappointed; these guys are crucial to our league and cup campaigns and I don’t want anything to happen to either of them. There’s also the looming spectre of the next Asian Cup, coming next year, where as it stands neither of them will be selected … and I wouldn’t mind that one bit as their inclusion would obviously not be welcomed.

I think, over the course, these two boys will be fully vindicated. They are easily good enough to be in that squad and as starters, and if this guy doesn’t know that he’s the last person in Asia to twig to it. They will be representing their country sooner rather than later. Whether he’s still national coach at that point will depend on his results in the meantime.

I think on balance, and considering the second-guessing that’s already going on, the odds are stacked against him.

Share this article


  • Johnno says:

    It’s to our advantage that kyogo and hatate have been overlooked, so happy enough with that.
    Strongly believe that it’s the Ange factor that has the Japanese manager running scared.
    Managers survive by there decision making and can’t be to long now before the Japanese manager will be looking for a new job.
    There loss will be our gain.

  • Benjamin says:

    Broadly agree with you here James. The Japanese bhoys playing for us are good enough for their national team. All 4 of them.

    The only mitigating factor here for their manager is that the upcoming games are completely meaningless. A couple friendlies being played two years before the next WC qualifiers even start. I imagine a lot of international managers will be taking the opportunity to look at some players who would otherwise not be selected. If players like CCV, Alastair Johnston, and Abada aren’t selected it’s not the end of the world. The bigger worry is the Asian Cup next January, and for that competition I think we’d all agree that it’s best if Celtic’s players aren’t selected at all, or at least as few as possible.

  • John S says:

    Japan’s loss, Celtic’s gain.

  • JimBhoy says:

    So Japaneasy, I don’t think the Bhoys will be too put out at missing some friendlies. They are for looking at players on the fringes or new formation and partnerships OR they were when I was coaching.

  • Johnny Green says:

    The only negative I see is that their valuation, if eventually transferred, will likely be less if they are not Internationalists. Other than that, I’m happy to see them here with the bhoys.

  • SSMPM says:

    Quite contradictory like so many managers are when they comment on players they leave out. It’s a bonus for us fitness-wise. To do so particularly in friendlies, when you’re also saying you’re trying out players on the fringe and that you want to play home league players when in reality your picking players in other European leagues is odd, at least to us when we see them performing so well. If they weren’t in the WC squad then surely they’re on the fringe though the comment about our SPL league is probably valid. It does shows how much he valued Maeda though, something it has taken us sometime for us to do.
    Don’t have much time for Clarke or Strachan come to that. They both picked EPL and Championship players though and somehow Clarke found places for Killie players. Also very odd.
    Maybe this guy has an historical anti Ange thing going on and/or he’s trying to discourage more top Japanese players leaving for Scotland

  • Tenaka Khan says:

    What I don’t like about this is what if our Japanese players take this to heart and decide that they have to leave Scotland for the sake of their international ambitions? I’m hoping that this blows up in that clown’s face and he gets punted for a more rational manager. I would hate to see the back of our Japanese Bhoys anytime soon.

Comments are closed.