All you need to know about the Celtic derby & Japan stars as reporting reaches absurd levels
It’s hard to keep up with what’s going on with Celtic’s Japanese and Australian contingent, international duty and how it impacts the upcoming February derby against Rangers.
In fact, at the moment there seems to be a new ‘update’ every half an hour on the situation, a ‘fresh twist’ to consider, ‘boosts’, ‘blows’ or something equally bamboozling. The situation has become an industry in itself almost for the media.
So let’s boil it all down to the facts, what’s likely to happen, what Celtic can do about it and what they are likely to do about it.
What are the Japan and Australia matches that can impact Celtic?
Japan and Australia both have upcoming World Cup qualifiers that will determine whether or not they head to Qatar 2022. Both are still in the running but have yet to book their place. They are vital fixtures.
Japan play China on January 27th and Saudi Arabia on February 1st. Both matches are scheduled to take place in Japan. Australia plays Vietnam on January 26th and Oman on February 1st.
The JFA has cancelled a proposed friendly against Uzbekistan that was due to take place on January 21st. This is no longer a factor and was originally due to be played by domestic-based Japanese players anyway. It also doesn’t mean the Japanese qualifiers will be cancelled, far from it.
Who is likely to be called up?
Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate all have a good chance of being selected for Japan, Kyogo especially. Yosuke Ideguchi is less likely to feature as he has not earned caps for a number of years now.
Tom Rogic is almost guaranteed to be selected by Australia for their fixtures.
Why is there confusion about the Japanese contingent?
Essentially, the Japanese government has been hesitant to grant the ability of foreign-based stars to enter the country and play football due to the ongoing pandemic. However, the JFA has applied for dispensation to include them and has reportedly been granted it. [Kyodo News]
Even if they hadn’t, Japan would have likely sought to stage the matches outside of the country as the China and Saudi Arabia squads likely would have been denied entry too.
The matches look like going ahead and some of Celtic’s players look like being called up.
Which games will anyone called up miss?
Celtic have matches against Hearts on January 26th, Dundee United on January 29th and Rangers on February 2nd. These are the games anyone called up to represent their country will be absent for.
What can Celtic do?
Celtic can’t prevent any of the players from being involved in FIFA qualifiers. If they are called up they will go.
However, if three or more are called up, Celtic can apply to the SPFL for match postponements. This is not guaranteed to be granted even if Celtic do ask.
It seems unlikely that Celtic would want to push three matches further into the season anyway, creating a wild fixture headache. More problems could arise from that as nice as it would be to wind up Rangers.
The smart money would be on the players leaving without much incident if they are named in squad announcements.