"Take my hat off to them"; Harry Kewell proud of Celtic stars after gruelling schedule

By Dave Flanigan

November 20, 2022

Celtic first-team coach Harry Kewell has spoken of his pride in the club’s players for their efforts in the first half of the season following the conclusion of their Sydney Super Cup tournament.

Though Celtic lost both Sydney friendlies, it marks the end of an intense run of fixtures in the last three months that has seen them soar ahead in the Scottish Premiership, winning all but one of their first 15 league games.

Kewell, who was returning to his home city for the friendly fixtures, was beaming with praise for Celtic’s players despite the two results in Australia.

Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images for Bursty

Speaking to Celtic TV after the Everton match, he said: “I’ve done this trip to Australia many times and I think that the boys felt it, this trip. I have to take my hat off to them because they’ve stuck to their guns and it’s a very hard way that the manager plays but I’m proud of them.

“I think they’ve enjoyed it, they’ve enjoyed walking around Syndey, they’ve enjoyed seeing the sights, a few of them have wandered over to the other side where Manly is, I think they’ve really enjoyed it.

“Even though it’s not a break, they probably don’t feel like it’s a break, but it’s nice to just mix it up a little bit and they’ve worked extremely hard over the last month – all of the season – but especially over October so now they get that chance to have that break and recharge and we go again for the second half.”

Kewell was also pleased with how Celtic handled the Everton match, despite the disappointing result, with the Scottish champions taking a far more expensively-assembled squad all the way to a penalty shootout.

“I thought we were excellent, I’m not going to lie,” he said.

“The players did exactly what the manager asked, we played our way, the conditions were difficult to play in but we still played our way.

“We wanted to high press, we wanted to dominate, we wanted to play quick restarts, get over the top of them and I thought we did that. It’s just unfortunate that we didn’t finish our chances.”

Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images

Though both matches ended in defeat, the Sydney Super Cup looks to have been a thoroughly worthwhile experience for the Celtic squad, with lots of focus on the team bonding aspect of the trip, in addition to the benefits of playing two different levels of opposition.

In his own post-match interview on Celtic TV, Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou mentioned the importance of a mental as well as physical break for his players, after a frantic few months.

It’s a break that should stand the squad in good stead to go again in the second half of the season following the Qatar World Cup, which finally commences today.

In other news: Everton boss Frank Lampard hails Celtic star he tried to sign at Chelsea