Former Ligue 1 star tips Celtic hero Daizen Maeda to be the difference-maker for Japan

By David Walton

January 24, 2022

Former Japanese international and Ligue 1 star Daisuke Matsui has tipped Celtic striker Daizen Maeda to be the difference-maker for Japan against China on Thursday.

Maeda’s side will take part in 2 massive World Cup qualification matches against China and Saudi Arabia in the coming days. As has been well documented, the striker will miss the upcoming Glasgow derby clash vs Rangers on February 2nd.

Japan are desperately looking to hold on to second spot in their qualifying group ahead of Tom Rogic’s Australia. Progression from the group will see them qualify directly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year.

Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

And 31-cap Matsui, who spent 7 years in France’s top flight, has tipped Maeda to do the damage off the bench this week:

As quoted by Soccer Digest Web, he said: “I would like to see the quick-footed Daizen Maeda come on in the second half, score a goal, and then score another on the counter. He also scored a goal for Celtic, so I want him to score a goal on the counter-attack.

“There aren’t many players who can make a difference. It’s the last qualifying round, so it’s going to be a very close game, 1-0 or 0-0. I think he can make a difference.”

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Celtic man Daizen Maeda looking for his big Japan moment

Maeda may have been called up in recent times to the Japanese senior squad, but he’s still to really receive his big breakthrough. He’ll view these upcoming World Cup qualifiers as a massive chance to make himself a national hero back home.

Manager Hajime Moriyasu clearly sees something in him. Something that he’ll hope can be a useful tool for him from the bench. With Kyogo Furuhashi out for an extended period of time, Maeda could very well be the first attacking option that’s called from the bench.

It’s unlikely that the Celtic man is given an immediate call to the starting XI for the China clash however. Vissel Kobe’s Yuya Osako has been Moriyasu’s go-to man in the qualifiers. That’s despite the fact Maeda finished last season as the top scorer in the J-League.

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Of course, the Celtic fans will just be hoping their star man comes back from international duty without an injury. He looks like he’s going to be a big asset for us in the second half of the campaign. The last thing we need from him is any extended periods of time out.

Celtic will face Motherwell at Fir Park on February 6th in what will undoubtedly be the game Postecoglou will want his contingent back for. Best-case scenario? Maeda is raring to go after being the standout hero that helped send Japan to Qatar.

But would we honestly just settle for him getting back safe and sound whatever the outcome? Absolutely.

In other news, Pundit believes vital behind-the-scenes role awaits injured Celtic captain Callum McGregor