Pat Nevin, a commentator for BBC Radio 5 Live, complimented the hard ethic of Daizen Maeda and his colleagues after Japan’s dramatic victory against Germany.
However, the former Scotland international feels that more Celtic players should have been included in their World Cup team in Qatar.
Japan kicked off their campaign this afternoon against Germany, the 2014 champions, who presented a particularly difficult challenge.
Hajime Moriyasu and his team, who will also play Costa Rica and Spain in Group E, needed a win in their first match in order to have any chance of advancing.
Celtic striker Daizen Maeda headed the attack from the beginning and was as active as usual, pressuring the opposing defence. The 24-year-old even attempted to score, but his attempt was ruled offside.
Ilkay Gundogan scored the game’s first goal from the penalty spot in the first half, putting Japan down by a goal.
Maeda was subsequently substituted just before the hour mark, and the game was turned upside down by the Samurai Blues, who scored two goals to capture all three points.
Speaking immediately after the victory, BBC Five Live presenter Kelly Cates discussed Scotland’s growing affinity with Australia, which will see many Scots backing the Socceroos during the winter event.
Cates, on the other hand, correctly noted Japan’s bond with Scotland, with Celtic at the forefront of it, courtesy to Ange Postecoglou and his five J-League signings.
Pat Nevin, a Scottish commentator, commended Maeda and his teammates for their effort during the encounter against Germany, but also expressed his conviction that more than one Celtic player should have been included to Japan’s squad for the trip to Qatar.
“Well, not enough of them (were picked). Oddly, it slightly put me off; I love Japanese football, and I love the energy they bring to the games.
“However, the fact they didn’t bring Kyogo Furuhashi stunned most people in Scotland and certainly stunned me as well. I was a wee bit miffed about it.
“But then, if you can go and do that, what they have just done, then I’ll forgive them for it. Maeda was upfront anyway; he’s a Celtic player. And what he did, the amount of running he put in the first half. It was almost pointless, apart from almost nearly scoring, it was offside though.
“But the fact that they all work that hard. They are all technically good. I heard the lads talking about it, have a look at their bench; these are no mugs, and they use their bench.”
“How well they used that bench was astonishing, and it’s going to be one of the most important things at this World Cup. As we go on, use the bench well because you’ll get tired players as it’s the middle of the season.”
As Nevin accurately pointed out, Japan’s usage of their replacements bench was crucial in their triumph against Japan, with Maeda putting in a hard effort during the opening hour of the game.
Japan has shown the importance of using the complete team, and we will see this trend repeated in each of their group games.
This also implies that whether Maeda starts or comes on later as a replacement, he will play a significant part in this World Cup.
Because of his speed and tremendous pushing ability, the Celtic forward is precisely the kind of player you want in this Japan team.
So it will be encouraging to see him continue to have an effect for his country and, perhaps, help them progress to the next level.