Celtic forward Daizen Maeda looks set to make first Japan start in 3 years

By David Walton

June 9, 2022

Celtic striker Daizen Maeda looks all but set to make his first start for Japan in 3 years during the Kirin Cup matches.

Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu has confirmed that he wants to make plenty of changes from their friendly loss to Brazil when they tackle Ghana in the Kirin Cup.

Japanese outlet Gekisaka believe after speaking in an interview with Moriyasu that Maeda will be one of the players who will be on the receiving end of these opportunities. The Japan boss stated that he wants players to start who haven’t yet had the opportunity.

Photo by Hiroki Watanabe/Getty Images

Maeda’s side will face the Ghanaians tomorrow and, regardless of whether they win or lose, will then play another match against either Tunisia or Chile in the final or 3rd-place playoff.

Daizen’s last start for his country came all the way back in June 2019 when he made his debut against Chile in a 4-0 defeat. His 5 appearances since then have all come as a substitute.

The Celtic forward came on at half-time during the 4-1 win over Paraguay and was then handed the final 25 minutes against Brazil on Monday.

Daizen Maeda still waiting on Japan starting XI slot after Celtic title-win

It’s unclear as to whether Maeda will start against Ghana or in the second match. However, it finally looks as though he’s about to get his international reward for his hard work at Celtic.

Daizen did manage to make a small impression against Brazil in the closing stages. He had Liverpool superstar Alisson worried when he charged him down late on, forcing a rushed clearance. However, given the fact Brazil were building up pressure when Maeda came on, he didn’t have much of a chance to make an impression.

That won’t be the same against Ghana if he is indeed in the starting XI. And it’ll be interesting to see where Moriyasu sees the Celtic forward operating. When he came on against Brazil, Maeda took Kyogo’s place at centre-forward. At Celtic Park, he’s often been utilised down the wide areas.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Not that the player will truly care. If he’s about to end a 3-year wait for an international start, all he’ll be bothered about is actually making the starting XI. That’ll be a huge achievement if and when it comes.

And the truth is that this just the start for the likes of Daizen and Kyogo. Should they perform in the UEFA Champions League next season, they’ll be front and centre of Japan’s World Cup bid at the end of the year.

All the best to Daizen whenever his starting opportunity arrives. Fingers crossed it’s as soon as tomorrow.

In other news, Steve Clarke explains decision to play Celtic hero Anthony Ralston after snubbing him for months