On Saturday afternoon, Celtic fans’ focus was strictly on Pittodrie. A 1-1 draw left many disappointed but from the afternoon, there were a few positives.

One of those was the debut of Adam Idah, but the other was Japan’s elimination from the Asian Cup. The unexpected news surfaced at half-time of the Hoops’ clash with Aberdeen, and it was well received among the support.

Many assumed that the Samurai Blue would go all the way, but Iran had other ideas, putting them to the sword in a 2-1 victory that entailed a dramatic 96th-minute winner from the spot.

Daizen Maeda Japan
REUTERS/Carl Recine

This left Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda heartbroken but Celtic fans were rejoicing. The pair have been missed in recent matches and although the former won’t be back for a while through injury, Maeda will.

He is fully fit and despite the fact he started for Japan in Qatar on Saturday he could well play for The Bhoys this midweek. For some, this may seem like a quick turnaround however Takumi Minamino played 23 minutes from the bench for his nation in their quarter-final and a day later on Sunday, he was on the bench for his club, Monaco:

Against Le Havre, the attacker came on for the last twenty minutes. If Minamino can undergo such a quick turnaround, one imagines Maeda can similarly do the same with two days extra for recovery.

Given the Hoops’ showing at the weekend, having the 26-year-old back in the team for the Easter Road match-up would be a significant boost. The player recently expressed his desire to get back to the grind with his club, but the ultimate call will lie with Brendan Rodgers and whether he deems Maeda fit and able to contribute.


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